Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dayton @ Columbus Pride '09

Yer humble host has been going to the Columbus Gay Pride Parade since 1988, which was his first Pride parade.

That parade ended at the Statehouse and was subject to in-your-face counterprotests all along the route by groups of local fundamentalists, who had no conpunction about attempting to engage the paraders in debate over Scripture.

This parade was the 7th. The first Cols parade in 1981 had marchers with paper bags over their heads for fear of being indentified. Apparently Columbus was quite homophobic. In fact there are anecdotes about Columbus gays visiting Dayton for nightlife since they weren't subject to police harrassment at the bars in Dayton the way they were in Columbus.

Columbus Pride morphs into Ohio Pride

But apparently repression pushed organization. The local Columbus gay community pushed the gay rights issue, leading to anti-discrimination laws and the community becoming integrated into the local political scene to some extent. Since the anti-gay climate thawed in Columbus earlier than elsewhere in the state Columbus became a sort of statewide gay pride celebration. The central location of Columbus helped, too.

The Columbus gay pride parade started to draw spectators....and participants...from across the state. Occasionally contingents from Dayton marched in the parade, like the gay Catholic group Dignity and the Lesbian and Gay Center. And one would see contingents from Toledo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and smaller places like Zanesville.

Ohio Pride back to Columbus Pride.

But as things became more tolerant and local gay communities became more organized local Pride events arose beyond Columbus. Cleveland and Cincinnati now have their own Pride events (Cleveland probably is the big event for Akron, Youngstown, Elyria and Lorain as much as Cleveland proper). Dayton started having a public event a few years ago (though had a private Pride Dinner since the late 1980s).

So Columbus has become more of a local event than it was in the, say, 1990s. Yet there is still some out-of-town presence, such as marching bands from Cincinnati and Indianapolis (Columbus' unofficial sister city). There was a bit of Dayton, to, as Joe Lacey, the school board member, was marching with the gay Democrats (no gay Republicans this time, but the Libertarians marched). And Masque had their strech limo accompanied by their bar staff, probably.

And that was about it.

Yet Columbus Pride still draws thousands, lining the parade route as it passes from the State House to Gooddale Park in the Short North, who join in and follow the parade into the park.

So it's still one of the big gay celebrations of the Midwest.


Anonymous said...

This past weekend my wife, three kids, and I were at the Columbus Convention Center for a quilt show that my wife had a quilt in. Afterwards we went to dinner in the Short North. We didn't know about the Pride events, but didn't mind at all when marchers caught us unawares and high-fived all five of us as they went by.

It gave my wife an idea for a new quilt. :)

Jefferey said...

If I knew there was a quilt show I would have visited it. I saw a very nice one on Courthouse Square in 2005 in honor of the restoration of the Old Courthouse., put on by the Miami Valley Quilters. I should probably blog on that as it was an impressive collection.

North York Landscaping said...

Blog is interesting and motivated me a lot!! thanks