BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maskerade Baltimore, a virtual silent auction and mask design competition to raise awareness and funds for issues facing the LGBTQ community in Baltimore, will be hosted starting next week on November 7.

Marylanders have grown accustomed to wearing masks, and that inspired the LGBTQ Fund at the Baltimore Community Foundation to partner with Maryland Art Place to host the event.

“It has a double meaning because often LGBTQ community members wear a mask in their life. They’re hiding who they truly are, and the masks also represent COVID,” Jon Adler Kaplan with the Baltimore Community Foundation said.

The virtual mask design competition brings together local artists to create one-of-a-kind pieces of history, turning an everyday essential item into a memorialized work of art.

Those masks will then be entered in a silent auction fundraiser open to the public online.

“On the mask, I have not only the standard Love is Love, of course, Black Lives Matter right here on the black stripe,” artist Joan Cox explained, showing off the design of one of the masks.

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Cox is thankful to be a part of the event, which has helped fuel creativity.

“A lot of art shows have obviously been canceled,” Cox said.

The proceeds will be split 40/60 between local artists who have lost income amid the pandemic and the LGBTQ Fund to ensure support continues for vital programs.

That support, leaders say, is needed more than ever since the pandemic is hitting marginalized groups especially hard.

“During times of COVID, when people are at home, most discrimination with the LGBTQ community takes place at home, and children and the youth are very vulnerable,” Adler Kaplan said.

The silent auction runs from November 7 though November 13. To learn more, click here.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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