That point was echoed by Karis Baker, a 19-year-old singer in the rap/rock/soul fusion band and self-identified "anti-girl group" Mzery Loves Company, who said even when she is with her girlfriend at shows, men will approach her and say, "Oh, you don't know what sex is."

"I just know that a lot of men, they feel as though women are not as capable musically, that we're not as powerful. And we are ... It just comes on more when they try to get at us because we are lesbians," Baker said.

The best way to shed these labels and stereotypes can be to create music that is universal, TT said.

"I think that me being out was never a big topic for me, because it just was me. I never separated the two, like I never was like, 'I am a homosexual artist,'" said TT. "I just said, 'I'm an artist.'"

TT raps about sexuality in a broader sense, but DDm (which stands for Dapper Dan midas) addresses it directly, in songs such as "High School." On it, he raps about striking back at bullies: "If you want to hate with us, I got a Smith & Wesson that will call your bluff."

While DDm says he looks up to singers like Queen front man Freddie Mercury for the way he was able to convey feeling to large stadium crowds, he hopes to speak more to his experiences as a gay man in future releases, and that those songs will serve as guidance.

"I really want to reach my kids — when I say my kids, I mean especially my young, gay black kids. I have to reach them. They have no real representation. Even in a medium as small as hip-hop, there's no real model they can look at," he said. "They're not represented. I have to say something and make a statement for them."

"And until I do that," he later added, "I'm not going to be satisfied. I'm just not."

Baltimore Pride 2012

The annual Baltimore Pride Festival officially begins with Friday's Twilight on the Terrace, a cocktail party and benefit that runs from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Gertrude's, 10 Art Museum Drive in the Baltimore Museum of Art. Tickets are $100.

The main Pride festivities are Saturday, with the Pride Parade and Block Party. The activities are centered on Charles and Eager streets. The High Heel Race is at 3 p.m., followed by the 4 p.m. parade, which runs along Charles Street from Mt. Vernon Place to Chase Street. The rowdy Block Party is 6 p.m.-11 p.m.

On Sunday, the free Pride Festival — a much more laid back time — is 11 a.m.-6 p.m. in Druid Hill Park. For more information, go to baltimorepride.org.