There has never been a safe time to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Stigmas and violence mean queer people often have to limit how open and free they can be. Conservatives have declared all-out war on the community — outlawing drag performances in some states and labeling anyone who even speaks about LGBTQ+ issues as a child “groomer.” 

These things should concern everyone, even those who aren’t members of the community, even from the relative safety of a blue state like Maryland. When people limit the freedoms of one marginalized group, more limitations on other groups are sure to follow. None of us are free unless all of us are free.

That’s why we wanted to profile the queer and trans dance party VERSION in this issue, which drops right before the beginning of Pride month. In a time of danger and fear that’s unprecedented in many of our lifetimes, VERSION is a temporary respite. 

Arts and Culture Editor Teri Henderson profiled the three people who make VERSION happen: Jessica Hyman, also known as “Trillnatured,” Kotic Couture, and Sydney Allen.

“The bass emanating from the speakers can be euphoric. It’s paired with the uplifting and fierce delivery of rapper, DJ, and emcee Kotic Couture. After dancing the night away, you might see if you made it into one of photographer Sydney Allen’s dreamlike vignettes,” Henderson writes.

To give you a taste of what the event is like, we are running some of Allen’s brilliant, expressive photos from past parties on our Photostories page. 

June is a busy month. There will be Pride events, Juneteenth, and Afram. Make sure to take a look at our extended Arts and Culture calendar for the whole month of June —not just the two weeks’ worth of events that we usually publish.

Make sure you also check out a piece from our friends at the criminal legal system watchdog group Courtwatch, all about the way trans people are treated in prisons. We also have a review of the film “Master Gardener” from Dominic Griffin and a poem from Writers in Baltimore Schools participant Brooke Bourne. Also, get ready for the month with Iya Osundara’s Tarotscope forecast. 

Happy Pride!

Correction: The story “Prioritizing the Planet,” published in Issue 18 gave the wrong year by which Baltimore hopes to be carbon neutral. The city is looking to be carbon neutral by the year 2045.

Lisa Snowden is Editor-in-Chief and cofounder of Baltimore Beat. Previously, she was an editor at Baltimore City Paper, Baltimore Sun, and The Real News Network. Her work has also appeared in Essence,...