Columbus--This year, the annual Pride parade and festival is being held Saturday, June 25 and the sponsors are expecting this to be bigger and better than last year�s festival.
This year�s theme for Pride in Columbus is �One.�
Stonewall Columbus, which sponsors the event, is trying to emphasize the idea of �one family, one community, one voice, one mission.� In light of last year�s passage of Issue 1, Stonewall, like many other GLBT organizations around the state, are trying to emphasize and rebuild the oneness of the GLBT citizens across Ohio and even the United States.
Columbus� gay Pride parade and festival is traditionally the largest in the Ohio, and this year organizers are expecting the crowd to cross the 100,000 mark, according to Kellye Pinkleton, Stonewall�s director of programming. The parade too is expected to be bigger with many more floats this year, including ones from other cities from the region.
Pinkleton said that each year the festival attracts roughly 120 vendors, and this year will be the same.
This year will be the fourth year for the family area and Pinkleton believes that this adds a lot to the festival. This will be the second year for the Pride 5K run.
She is also very excited about the increase in allies expected at this year�s events, particularly the parade.
�A lot of that has to do with the formation of Speak Out by Sherrie Myers,� she noted. The straight allies group was started last year by Meyers, and doubled in size after Issue 1 passed.
Pinkleton said that although �Columbus Pride has been growing at a rate of roughly thirty percent as far as attendance goes,� the organizational committee of 20 headed by Pride co-chairs Michael Dutcher and Sandy Thomas is a �well oiled machine.�
Pinkleton is careful to point out that Columbus is one of the few cities with a Pride of its magnitude that �does not farm out the event to other management or event companies.�
Pinkleton said that none of this would have been possible without the work of the 500 volunteers locally and more who will come in from out of town just for the event. She also mentioned that the Stonewall board this year �deserves more praise and thanks than is imaginable,� because in addition to working on Pride, they have had to take on organizational duties due to the recent health-related departure of Executive Director Kate Anderson.
Pinkleton said that initially the committee organizing Pride had had discussions about what recent political events would do to the attendance and overall spirit at Pride this year.
�We wondered if attendance would drop,� she said. �But we now believe that enough time has passed since November and that people are starting to get incredibly re-energized� to celebrate and continue the struggle for GLBT equality.
The Pride main stage in Columbus will boast the talents of singer Amber as the headliner this year. Josh Zuckerman, back in the states after a second European tour, is playing various Pride celebrations and music festivals across the country. He too will perform in Columbus, along with Ira Levi an internationally known dance and R&B artist.
Columbus Pride, as part of its strong growth from year to year, has turned into an almost month-long celebration as opposed to just one day of a parade and festival. Some of the highlights of this year�s activities include:
� On Thursday, June 9 at 7 pm a free presentation by Douglas Whaley on �The History of Gay Rights in Columbus� will be presented at the Stonewall Center. This event will be free and open to anyone interested in learning more about gay history in Columbus.
Whaley is an emeritus professor of law at the Ohio State University. He will provide a unique perspective on the gay movement in Columbus, as he was one of the first board members of Stonewall Columbus. In 2003 he was the recipient of the Rhonda Rivera Human Rights Award.
� On June 23, Stonewall Columbus will kick off Pride weekend with �An Exhibit of Pride�, an art show that reflects the GLBT community in all the colors of the rainbow, literally and metaphorically.
This will be the second year of the show, which will feature artists from the GLBT community. Works will be available for purchase by members of the community. Fifteen percent of the price will go towards Stonewall. Last year, this raised over $5,700 for the organization.
Also for the second year in a row, out artist Michael Owens, who has a national line of GLBT cards, magnets and calendars available, has created a special work to epitomize this year�s Pride festival and celebration.
In addition to the art show, Stonewall also hopes to raise money for its work by raffling off a 2005 Harley Davidson Sportster XLH 1200C. Tickets are being sold through the day of the Pride festival at one ticket for $10 and three for $25.
And no Columbus Pride would be complete without the annual fundraising Bat �n� Rouge softball tournament where drag queens and kings team up to end the festivities with some great entertainment and humor, if not almost always mediocre to bad ball playing. The event, attended by thousands in recent years, will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 26 on the Africentric School�s ball field at Livingston and Grant Aves.
For a more detailed itinerary of the month�s activities� visit http://www.stonewallcolumbus.org
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