Cincinnati is going through a GLBT renaissance, fueled primarily by the repeal of Article 12 of the Cincinnati City Charter on election day last November. Article 12 prohibited the city from protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In addition to this momentous repeal for the GLBT citizens of Cincinnati, two other recent successes have contributed to a greater equality for GLBT residents of the area: the passage of Cincinnati�s 2003 hate crime ordinance and the expansion of the human rights ordinance in Covington, Ky, the same year.
This year�s Cincinnati Pride celebrations are within the context of these recent victories, in a city that had been one of the most unfriendly to GLBT citizens of the state�s three major metropolises.
Marti Kwiatkowski is one of this year�s Pride co-chairs along with John Pennell. Kwiatkowski, who is also president of Cincinnati�s P-FLAG chapter, is a straight ally of the GLBT community who got involved in activism in 1996 after a childhood friend of hers passed away from AIDS. This is Kwiatkowski�s first year as co-chair of Pride and she is very happy about how things have turned out.
�We felt that with the repeal of Article 12 we had to help the GLBT community come together for a celebration and we decided that it should be done at Pride,� she said.
Kwiatkowski feels that in the past few years, with all the anti-gay activity in the city, state and nation, the GLBT community �seemed to be falling apart at the seams� in Cincinnati. �They were very discouraged and there was a feeling that things were never going to change.�
�But, we want to show the community at large that we are very much alive, we are very much political,� she added, �and most importantly we are very much together on the issues of gay marriage and gay equality.�
Kwiatkowski is very excited about a special children�s area at this year�s Pride, a first. The large, enclosed, supervised area will welcome GLBT families and their children will have many activities.
Kwiatkowski is also excited about the rearrangement and expansion of the area where the festival will take place. She is hoping that this year�s event will attract between 15,000 and 20,000 people.
This year�s Pride festivities began with a Pride Alive Rally on Fountain Square June 1. Proclamations issued by Mayor Charlie Luken of Cincinnati and Mayor Butch Callery of Covington were read at the rally.
Kwiatkowski said that this year�s Pride organizers were very intent on including Northern Kentucky in its celebrations.
�They have participated with us in the past,� she said, �but they have been on the fringes and have not always been acknowledged.�
Kwiatkowski, who has been with PFLAG since 1996, said that this group will kick off the parade on June 12 and that they are going to be the cheerleaders. They have written many cheers for the occasion.
Kwiatkowski acknowledges that an event as big as this needs the help, co-operation and hard work of a lot of people, particularly the five committees working to make this year�s events ones to remember as Cincinnati holds on to and builds upon its recent victories for its GLBT citizens.
For a listing of Pride Alive2005 events see www.prideisalive.com.
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