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LGBT Pride to Descend on Victorian Village and Short North

Grant Stancliff Grant Stancliff LGBT Pride to Descend on Victorian Village and Short NorthComposite photo by Walker Evans.
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June is Pride Month. Columbus Pride is June 20th and June 21st, and Columbus shows up in force.

In fact, a big chunk of the Midwest does too: we expect approximately 300,000 people to show up for the Stonewall Center’s Pride Festival this weekend. There are a lot of Pride road-trippers, and Columbus is a premiere Pride destination.

Pride what?

The first Pride celebrations happened after intense police crackdowns on gay and transgender hangouts in the 60s.

Initially, it was a street-level protest, and participating meant risking being smeared in the newspapers, arrested, or worse.

Here in Columbus, we used to black out the windows and organize in secret at Out on Main (now Sidebar 122), dreaming of one day of being able to live openly.

But a lot has happened since the 60s.

Loving, committed, same-sex couples can get married in 19 states. Young people of both political parties and all religions don’t carry the same bias that we had in the past towards gay and transgender people.

Why Marriage Matters Ohio, the statewide marriage equality campaign, is headquartered in Columbus. They're on a roadshow to each Pride celebration to collect signatures and engage Ohioans on the importance of marriage equality.

Why Marriage Matters Ohio, the statewide marriage equality campaign, is headquartered in Columbus. They’re on a roadshow to each Pride celebration to collect signatures and engage Ohioans on the importance of marriage equality.

Unfortunately, Ohio lags behind. It’s shocking, but you can be fired from your job or kicked out of your home in most of Ohio just because you are gay or transgender. And we still have a constitutional ban on marriage equality.

For all of Ohio’s faults, there’s a reason why hundreds of thousands of people will be descending on the Short North and Victorian Village this weekend: Columbus’s urban core is very queer friendly (yeah, that’s a complicated word… we can talk about it sometime if you want). We have a domestic partnership registry. We have a local nondiscrimination ordinance. We have a drop-in center for gay and transgender youth.

For young professional couples deciding where to live, those things are important.

And yet, even Columbus has a ways to go. Recently the heart of gay and transgender Columbus –the Short North–, saw a string of vicious attacks that many feel were based in hate and bias. As a result, many people still wear the color pink on Fridays in Columbus as a sign that hate and bias aren’t tolerable in our city.

That’s what Pride is about. It’s about living and thriving in a culture that in many ways doesn’t accept you.

And that’s something that a lot of people can relate to, whether or not they are gay or transgender. Underneath the “sponsored by Bud Light” banners is something very real.

Columbus is the biggest pride in Ohio, but not the only celebration. Prides have already happened in Cincinnati, Dayton and Youngstown. Cleveland and Toledo are yet to come.

Columbus is the biggest pride in Ohio, but not the only celebration. Prides have already happened in Cincinnati, Dayton and Youngstown. Cleveland and Toledo are yet to come.

It’s activist energy articulated as joy. It’s a march of overcoming.

Not Just For Gay and Transgender People

Now, Pride is a family affair. Happy families with children will be marching alongside community organizations and the famously awesome dykes on bikes.

Pride is a colorful circus of diversity and fun.

This year we need people who don’t necessarily identify as gay or transgender to show up. With all of our recent victories, people who are offended by our existence will be out in force. They’ll be on the sidelines of the parade, with their hateful signs and bullhorns.

Basically, we need you to march or help us out at our table.

I mean. Who wouldn’t want to march in a parade featuring George Takei? Oh, myyy.

We’ve got plenty of room and plenty of need. It’s fast, fun, and free. You’ll probably get a cool Pride t-shirt out of it too.

Marching in a Pride parade or volunteering at a booth is a rite of passage for gay and transgender people – but most especially, for our straight, supportive allies.

Marchers at last year's Columbus Pride practicing marches and getting pumped to drown out protestors.

Marchers at last year’s Columbus Pride practicing marches and getting pumped to drown out protestors.

There are two great local organizations that need your help.

First, Equality Ohio educates and advocates on behalf of the gay and transgender community in Ohio. You can sign up to march or work the table here. We’ll meet a little early to practice chants.  They’ll teach you everything you need to know.

Second, TransOhio educates and advocates specifically on behalf of the trans* community in Ohio. They need marchers – trans* and gender nonconforming people, friends, family, allies –  everyone is welcome to show trans* pride and support for the Ohio trans* community in all its diversity. To hang with TransOhio this Pride, email [email protected] for more information.

For more information, visit www.columbuspride.org.

Edit: This article originally had a different number of expected participants. This year, Stonewall Center’s Pride Festival and Parade is expected to draw 300,000 from central-Ohio and all over the region.

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