Cincinnati--The Queen City�s �Pride Alive� month of celebrations kicked off June 1 with news that a tripartite alliance of former foes has been forged to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in the city.
Equality Cincinnati formed to bring harmony and healing to LGBT citizens and visitors caught in political turmoil and apathy here.
Its three members are:
� Stonewall Cincinnati, the town�s long-standing gay equal rights organization that suffered a split among members and a financial crunch that left it moribund.
� One Human Family, started by disgruntled Stonewall activists as a human rights organization working to eliminate discrimination and prejudice by promoting diversity and inclusion through advocacy, education and community service.
� Citizens to Restore Fairness, which led the successful repeal of the anti-gay Cincinnati Charter Article 12 last November.
�Equality Cincinnati will continue the fight for fairness and for individual rights as a single strong voice for change,� pledged CRF chair Gary Wright. �We changed the heart of the city. We proved that open and honest discussion about the reality of gay and lesbian lives can change minds. We showed that by appealing to what is best in people, we could overcome a million and a half dollars from hidden sources poured into deceptive advertising.�
He was referring to the campaign to retain Article 12 led by Citizens for Community Values, the suburban Sharonville group that was also behind its passage in 1993. In both campaigns, the anti-gay group never revealed the source of large amounts of money it spent.
Wright spoke at a lunchtime Pride rally at Fountain Square on a stage draped with rainbow flags and banners to celebrate the repeal of Article 12 and the positive impact of CRF�s campaign.
�Straight or gay, we welcome you to join with us,� he told the mixed crowd of LGBT leaders and downtown workers on their lunch break.
Equality Cincinnati was designed to achieve full equality for LGBT people and prevent discrimination and violence against anyone based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The boards of One Human Family and Stonewall Cincinnati have already endorsed the new group�s creation. Formal approval by the members of these groups is expected by June�s end.
�Our success last fall shows what we can accomplish when we work together with our allies to educate everyone in our community about the reality of gay and lesbian lives,� said Wright. �Our win was the only ballot initiative victory for gay people anywhere in the country last year. We won that election decisively with 54% of the vote in spite of being outspent by a half-million dollars. People in Cincinnati clearly said that they believe that discrimination against gays and lesbians is wrong. Equality Cincinnati will be a single strong voice for acceptance of gays and lesbians in the city and the surrounding area.�
Pride Month this year was organized by the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Greater Cincinnati, a nonprofit group that offers LGBT support services. The events are highlighted by the Pride parade and a two-day festival in Northside�s Hoffner Park, expected to draw 10,000 people on June 11 and 12.
Cincinnati Pride almost did not happen this year. A group of people that had organized earlier Pride events disbanded last September, suffering from burnout.
�Since they said Pride was dead,� said Pride co-chair John �J.P.� Pennell, �we decided to say �Pride is Alive�.�
�After the bitter fall of Stonewall Cincinnati and the reactionary creation of One Human Family,� observed Chris Seelbach in a Greater Cincinnati GLBT News article in, �the LGBT community went through a very rough period of time up until November 2004. Things have changed and it�s time to move on.� Seelbach is campaign manager for Councilmember David Crowley
�Not only is Pride alive here,� noted CityBeat reporter Stephanie Dunlap, it�s kicking!�
Pro-gay proclamations issued by Mayor Charlie Luken of Cincinnati and Mayor Butch Callery of Covington, Ky. were read at the rally. Luken praised Pride Alive�s door-to-door outreach.
For updates, see www.citizenstorestorefairness.org, www.onehumanfamilycincinnati.org, www.stonewallcincinnati.org, or www.prideisalive.com.
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