ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball kicked off the celebration of Pride Month today with a proclamation and inaugural Pride flag raising ceremony in front of the George Howard Building in Ellicott City. It is the first time the Pride Flag has ever been flown at the seat of County Government in Howard County. Photos of the event can be found here.
This meaningful action reflects our commitment to supporting, celebrating, and standing with all LGBTQIA+ individuals in Howard County, affirming that they are a vital, welcomed, and celebrated part of our community. Howard County is a place where we don’t just tolerate diversity and inclusion, but we celebrate it. That is why I am proud to live in a community that supports, uplifts, and includes our LGBTQIA+ neighbors.
In 2019, County Executive Ball established Howard County’s first ever LGBTQIA+ Workgroup. Since then, the workgroup has partnered with county agencies, nonprofit organizations and other community groups to facilitate an environment of inclusion, communication, understanding and respect throughout the county. That same year, the County Executive partnered with PFLAG of Howard County and HoCo Pride to host the County’s first ever PRIDE Festival.
“We are living in a time where hate crimes and policies against the LGBTQIA+ community are rising,” said County Council Chair Christiana Rigby. “When we see how other communities treat members of our LGBTQIA+ community, it becomes even more important to highlight those differences and affirm our shared humanity.”
“While other counties and states are banning Pride flags, we're raising one right here at the seat of county government," said Byron Macfarlane, Register of Wills. “We're sending a message that hate has no home here, love always wins, and that whoever you are, whoever you love, however you identify, we welcome and embrace you in Howard County.”
"I’m grateful for our County Executive making this day a marker in Howard County because just as Maryland is going to lead the nation in how we treat and love people and respect people, Howard County, for me, for the last 50 years, has been that marker,” said Larry Walker, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives.
“The flag is important to so many people, and it was important to me. I was one of those kids who grew up in school and didn’t know anybody, had no support, didn’t have one person to talk to. Seeing the flag equaled safety. It equaled that I belonged,” said Jeremy Browning, Administrative Director of the MD Commission on LGBTQIA+ Affairs.
Building upon the workgroup, County Executive Ball and the County Council established the LGBTQIA+ Commission in 2022 to advance policy and systemic changes for those with different gender and sexual identities. The commission is made up of 19 voting members and is seeking high school and college student members in the new year.
Today marks a joyous time, and we plan to celebrate to our heart's content at the many Pride parades and festivals set to take place. We will remain steadfast in our mission to better the livelihoods of LGBTQIA+ persons, families, and allies that call Howard County home.
“HoCo Pride’s purpose is to encourage, educate, advocate, support, promote, and enhance the quality of life for LGBTQIA+ community members,” said Abby Hendrix, Planning Committee Member of Howard County PRIDE. “I’d like to thank County Executive Calvin Ball, members of the County Council, along with Howard County residents for creating a community that is safe, welcoming and inclusive for all.”
Other events planned for Pride Month in Howard County include:
- OEC Pride will be held on June 3-4 in Historic Ellicott City. Join the Mascara Run, explore the art fair, enjoy drag story hour, listen to live music, and much more.
- HCPSS Pride Prom will be held on June 10. The Howard County Public School System invites all HCPSS high school students to attend the inaugural Pride Prom at the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center. The George Howard Building will be lit in rainbow colors in celebration of Pride Prom.
- The Howard County Library System is celebrating Pride Month throughout June with over 25 events and counting. Connect and find your community through crafts, poetry, film and more.