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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
June 9, 2006

Parade and festival mark
20 years of Dayton Pride

Dayton--The first weekend of Dayton Pride Fest began with a parade winding through the streets of the downtown gay district, ending at the historic Courthouse Square.

There, keynote speaker Joe Lacey stood at the site where John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln once stood, saying, �I�m the gay guy on the school board. Thank you for electing me.�

Lacey went on to say, �We are a diverse community and it is important to have that diversity on the School Board as well. I will work to make our schools safe for all students.�

With the June 3 parade and festival, the Dayton Lesbian and Gay Center kicked off its 20th year of Pride.

Dan Foley, Democratic candidate for Montgomery County commissioner, and Tim O�Connell, chief magistrate of the Common Pleas Court, were on hand to garner LGBT support.

�I do not make the laws, but I am hoping to have better laws to protect your rights,� said O�Connell. �As magistrate I promise to have an open ear and apply the laws to be fair to gays and lesbians.�

O�Connell�s words were underscored by the center�s executive director, John Gantt, who challenged local politicians to pass laws so �the day can come that we as gays and lesbians cannot be fired from our jobs or evicted from our homes just because we are presumed gay. The city of Dayton still has not provided such protections.�

Derrick Mize of Equality Ohio stood up to say, �We have a plan to have our voice heard� in the Statehouse and in the White House. �We have a plan to never be used as political fodder.� He challenged all those in attendance to make their voice heard.

R.J. McKay of Diversity Dayton spoke of his group�s efforts at activism. He told being in New York, standing in a little park on Christopher Street and seeing the monuments dedicated to the Stonewall Riots, and the overwhelming feeling he received from that encounter that challenged him to become an activist.

The LGBT community has come a long way in the past 20 years, as grand marshals Aaron Schaffer and Leon Bey can attest. They were among the founding members of the Dayton Lesbian and Gay Center. Today�s events were set to commemorate, educate and liberate the estimated 2,000 people in attendance.

The festivities continued into the night with a street carnival in the heart of the gay district and wound up with a concert by recording artist Amber at Masque nighclub later that evening.

Dayton will continue Pride celebrations next weekend with the annual dinner and exposition on Saturday, June 17 at the David H. Ponitz Center at West 4th and Perry on the campus of Sinclair Community College.

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