Cincinnati--Not even the sweltering heat, the overcast skies and intermittent drizzles could dampen Cincinnati�s Pride celebrations this year.
In light of November�s repeal of Article 12, the two-day festivities on June 11 and 12 were focused on victory over bigotry and a renewed sense of identity and public prominence of the GLBT community towards achieving complete equality.
According to Ron Rigby, chair of the parade on Sunday, this year�s celebrations attracted over 60 floats and groups with a crowd approaching 10,000 spectators.
Brent Hathaway, Rigby�s partner, said, �With the repeal of Article 12, this Pride celebration was going to be the biggest turnout ever.�
The festivities began with a line-up and rally at Burnett Woods in Clifton, the neighborhood where the University of Cincinnati is located. The rally featured dancing by a faux Village People ensemble (minus the Indian), a D.J. spinning records, and other entertainment.
Truly Scrumptious and Lucy Jackson, two spectacularly-bedecked drag queens, were at the parade to represent the Imperial Sovereign Queen City Court of the Buckeye Empire. Truly Scrumptious said that she hoped that this Pride day would �create a climate of tolerance and acceptance in the city from here on out.�
Jerri and Dave Correll had come to support their son, whose drag name is Cassandra. The Corrells were going to ride on a float with Cassandra, who has been named Miss Golden Lion.
�I hope that there is greater understanding towards people like my son,� said Jerri Correll, �because people are missing out on getting to know wonderful people in the gay community.�
There were many politicians present too, some hoping to keep their current positions in the greater Cincinnati area and other hoping to get elected for the first time to City Council or to the mayor�s position.
Cincinnati councilmember Dave Crowley came with a large contingent including his out campaign coordinator Chris Seelbach. Crowley has a gay son and lesbian daughter in addition to another boy and girl.
�I am very happy,� Crowley said, �because I got the best of all possible combinations with my children and they are all wonderful people.�
�For me, it�s more than just a philosophical position,� he continued, �and this whole struggle for equality is real to me as a father of two gay children. This is also why I became so instrumental in repealing Article 12.�
Seelbach praised Crowley as �one of the most gay-friendly politicians around.�
He added that he had two wishes for this Pride, something he learned from Judy Shepard, mother of the slain Matthew Shepard.
�I want everyone to come out and I want the cameras from the media to stay past the drag queens and men in leather to show how truly diverse the entire community is,� Seelbach said.
Billy Jones and John Smallwood, who have been partners for almost five years and have two foster children and an adopted two-and-a-half year old, worked hard to create the Glitter Pageant events held in conjunction with Pride. Jones and Smallwood decided to use their business, Partini Parties, to create events that would unite the GLBT community.
�This is the first year we have had a Pride king and queen,� Smallwood said.
Jones added that it was important to him to �include the drag king and lesbian communities� in their events.
The Glitter events raised several hundred dollars to support Pride. Special events were held at Hamburger Mary�s and whiffleball tourney organized by Jones and Smallwood was won by the Drag King Society of Cincinnati.
The Pride King and Queen this year were Tristan and Monica St. James respectively.
��I want to use this honor to help raise money by doing a lot of benefits for the Cincinnati Youth Group,� Tristan said.
The group is a safe haven for 13 to 21 year old GLBT youth in the city.
Monica St. James claimed her crowning to be �a privilege and an honor.�
�The city is so diverse and we have had our problems with race and sexuality here so I hope that in the future we are more accepted by everyone in the city,� she said.
The parade route was lined with supporters, mostly at the start and finish. Many religious groups marched in the parade. One of the most compelling floats in the parade was a silver hearse with a coffin mounted on top. The windows of the hearse read �Article 12.�
The parade took around two hours to traverse the nearly three-mile route from Burnet Woods to the Northside neighborhood where the festival was held in Hoffner Park. Over 60 booths were set up at the park, in addition to a stage where entertainment played through the evening.
The spirit of celebration and openness was as vibrant, loud and upbeat. And Cincinnati�s Pride was an extremely diverse one with a very large showing by the African-American community.
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