Erie, Pa.--On October 15, the LGBT and allied communities of Erie County came together to celebrate the successes of the past year and the challenges of the upcoming year with a march and rally through Erie. Fall pride events have been held most years since 1998, and picnics in late spring or early summer have been held since 1992.
The march included 60 to 75 people representing such diverse groups as PFLAG, Allegheny College, Penn State Behrend and Edinboro University gay-straight alliances, the Erie County Health Department, and others.
Erie police led the march down State Street from the Zone club to Perry Square. The crowd for the rally was estimated at 125 people.
The organizers of the day�s festivities represented as diverse a spectrum as the groups participating in the march, from Dan Burdick, a faculty member in the music department at Edinboro University, to Patty Puline of the Erie County Department of Health and Michael K. Mahler, co-editor of Erie Gay News.
The rally opened with moving comments by Puline about Jeff Grego, an LGBT community leader who was killed in a plane crash on August 26. Grego and his partner were among the couples who successfully fought in court for second-parent adoptions for LGBT couples.
The keynote was given by Lee Edmondson, co-owner of Trance Nightclub. Edmondson spoke about positive changes that have happened in Erie in the last 40 years and gave examples of how to move forward.�
Other speakers included Mahler, a young man named Zach, the first openly gay Homecoming candidate at Edinboro University, Kate Ebersole of Authentic Lives Coaching, and the president of the local chapter of PFLAG.
Another featured speaker was Joy Greco, Republican member of the Erie County Council who is running for Millcreek supervisor. She spoke about the county council�s support for the civil rights of all the citizens in the county. She has been instrumental in the changes enacted by the Erie County Council.
Joe Giles, Democratic chair of the County Council, discussed how the council has put into place budgetary and administrative details to make the Human Rights Commission possible.
Also speaking was Kahan Sablo, dean of students at Edinboro University, who read a supportive letter from university president Frank G. Pogue.
Entertainment was provided by singer-songwriter Bob Bearfield from Erie, along with Judith Avers from West Virginia. Drag king T. J. Knight provided a number between the singers and worked the crowd of happy women. The rally ended with a special performance by Stephanie Callahan of the Jen Foster Group.
Photos and a positive article on the event appeared on the front page of the daily Erie Times News. The local paper included photos showing the diversity of the event participants. Local NBC affiliate WICU Channel 12 also had coverage.
The traditional �family portrait� was also taken, as happens at all Erie Pride events. The first �family portrait� was taken in October 1995 on the steps of the Erie County Courthouse. Previous photos and more information are available at www.eriegaynews.com. Erie Gay News also continued the tradition of taking photos of community members who want to have their faces and photos on its website�s Friends and Supporters page. About 25 people took new or updated photos.
The next Erie Pride event will be the 14th annual Pride Picnic on Saturday, June 10 at the Rotary Pavilion at Presque Isle. Planning is also expected to get underway in early November for next year's Fall Pride event. Info about past and future Pride events can be seen at on www.eriegaynews.com/pride. One can also register for Pride events at that location.
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