Rehoboth Beach prepares for Delaware Pride

by Troy Petenbrink

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday September 15, 2010

Although one of the smallest states in the union, Delaware has big plans for its gay Pride observances this weekend.

Celebrating 14 years, Delaware Pride will be held this Saturday, Sept. 18, from noon to 6 p.m. at Cape Henlopen State Park (North Shores), just north of downtown Rehoboth. A line-up of national and local entertainers as well as a record number of vendors are expected.

American Idol finalist, Broadway star and Grammy nominee Frenchie Davis is among the more than a dozen scheduled performers.

Davis is no stranger to the gay community. In a 2007 interview with Metro Weekly, she shared that while a student at Howard University that she "did a lot of extra work singing at many [Washington, DC,] gay bars to make extra money." Since those early days, she has become a fixture on the gay circuit; performing earlier this year at Pride events in Mobile, Ala., Austin and Seattle and at Gay Days in Orlando.

"Having the gay community be such a significant part of my life and career has definitely shaped my views on marriage equality and gay rights as a whole," said Davis. "Here's my thing. There was a time when the Bible was used to justify slavery. The Bible has also been used to justify the oppression of women, so I would think that history has taught us enough about using religion as a basis for any argument against civil rights. I believe that marriage equality is a civil rights issue, not a religious one. As a black woman, I am frightened to know how many people don't get it. How can we say that America is the land of the free when all of her citizens do not have the same rights?"

Davis was rather coy, however, when asked whether she would grab a slice of Nicola's pizza, sample some Dolle's taffy or check out the shirtless servers at Aqua while at the beach.

"This will be my first time in Rehoboth," she said. "I am hoping the weather will be nice enough for me to enjoy the whatever attractions are nearby. I don't eat dairy so no pizza for me but shirtless servers sound fun!

Headlining the day's festivities will be Davis' fellow American Idol Season Two contestant Kimberly Locke, who also has a long history as an advocate for gay people and supporter of numerous HIV/AIDS organizations.

Among the other scheduled performers are singers Brendan Velasquez, Stewart Lewis and Jeryl; New York-based dance troupe Manhattan Prairie Dogs; The Rainbow Chorale of Delaware and drag divas GiGi and Isabella Frost and Mona Lotts, hostess of the Blue Moon Diva's show and reigning Miss Gaye Rehoboth Beach, will serve as the day's emcee.

Participating vendors will be on-hand, offering various food, drink, clothing, jewelry, books and other items. Regional LGBT groups will also have tables at the festival, including political groups, churches, community organizations, and extracurricular activities. Local politicians have been invited to speak at the festival, and it is expected that U.S. Senate candidate Chris Croons will make an appearance. Croons, a Democrat, will be facing Tea Party-backed Republican candidate Christine O'Donnell in the general election to fill the seat vacated by Vice President Joe Biden. O'Donnell believes gays can be cured and headed an ex-gay advocacy group called Saviors Alliance for Lifting the Truth.

Admission to the Delaware Pride is $5. Parking will be available on-site for a nominal fee and a free shuttle will be running from the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center.

After the festival on Saturday, the Blue Moon will host a meet and greet with Locke and Davis from 8 - 10 p.m.

The night before Delaware Pride, Friday, Sept. 17, there will be a "Night of Remembrance" candlelight vigil, to honor loved ones who have passed away. Attendees will meet at the Rehoboth Avenue Pavilion at 8 p.m. for a ceremony, then walk up Baltimore Avenue and disperse. Attendees are invited to submit names and short remembrances to [email protected].

According to a news report posted earlier this week on delmarvanow.com, the Aryan Nations Church of Jesus Christ Christians, a white nationalist group based out of Chillicothe, Ohio, will host what is being advertising as a "White Patriot Day," in Bethany Beach, Del., which is less than 15 miles south of Rehoboth, on the same day as Delaware Pride.

Troy Petenbrink resides in Washington, DC and is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. You can follow him on Twitter: http://twitter.com/thegaytraveler