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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
June 24, 2005

Dayton takes a stand at Pride parade and festival

Dayton--The community certainly stood proud in the June 18 Pride celebration, proving the theme for this years celebration: Stand Up! Stand Out! Stand Proud! with an estimated crowd of over 2,000 attending the festivities at Courthouse Square.

The celebration began at noon with a parade stepping off from Cooper Park and wound through the streets of Dayton to end with the welcoming crowd at the square.

The parade featured floats from many of the local bars and churches as well as the flag-twirling Flaggots Ohio from Columbus and the Queen City Marching Band from Cincinnati.

The crowd could not see the stars in the sky for the bright sunshine, but the stars from the national touring cast of Oklahoma shone brightly. The cast strutted their stuff through the streets with songs from the musical, which they shared with the cheering crowd.

Ann Wilger, former regional director of P-FLAG, was the keynote speaker.

��We are dealing with a group of people who are radical--and wrong,� Wilger said, referring to those who oppose homosexuality politically in an attempt to squelch basic human rights and legislate discrimination.

�You can continue to pass laws and take away our rights and treat us like second-class citizens, but we are not going away,� said John Gantt, executive director of the Dayton Lesbian and Gay Center. �We are like everyone else. We are taxpayers, doctors and lawyers.�

Andrew Hyde, last year�s grand marshal and current director of the Mu Crew, the youth alternative group sponsored by the AIDS Resource Center Ohio, likened the gay community to reality TV in his speech.� He is a past contestant on the Amazing Race.

�Take the show Fear Factor, for instance� he said. �Guys doing crazy stunts, crashing cars, eating gross things, getting all stinky. Doesn�t that remind you of something? Leather men.��

�What about Survivor?� asked Hyde. �People digging up dirt, climbing trees, building shelter, backstabbing and full of drama. Hello? Lesbians.� That brought a few groans as well as laughter.

All in all, Dayton�s Pride celebration was by far the best-attended and celebrated in many years. This gay night of nights did not end with the festivities at Courthouse Square, with all bars and queer establishments continuing the festivities into the night.


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