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June 18 , 2010

Cleveland Pride’s grand marshals brought us the Games

Cleveland--Last year, Cleveland Pride was officially old enough to drink at its own beer garden, and for the 22nd annual event on June 26, things are getting even more exciting.

It’s been an important year for Cleveland. Among all the typical legislative and social happenings, it became the latest city selected to host the Gay Games, and definitely the one most deserving of the title “underdog” in the selection process, beating out Boston and Washington, D.C. to snag the 2014 event.

It was incredible news for a city that is infamous for its low self-esteem, and a symbol that the eyes of the world’s LGBT communities are not just focused on the largest of metropolises but also on the smaller cities, that gay life is not just on the east and west coasts (and Chicago) but also in the heartlands, that the “Rust Belt” also glitters like gold.

It took a lot of hard work and perseverance on the part of the Cleveland Synergy Foundation and its allies in government, the sports world, the tourism industry and, most importantly, the LGBT community and its supporters, who demonstrated the theme of this year’s Cleveland Pride, Unity Through Diversity.

That long recap of the Federation of Gay Games’ selection of Cleveland introduces the grand marshals for this year’s parade, the Cleveland Synergy Foundation. As part of their efforts to bring the Games to northeast Ohio, they brought Cleveland and Akron together, they brought thousands to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum for a massive party during the week the site selection committee was in town, and they organized the first of an ongoing series of multi-sport festivals, SynergyFest, a sort of dry run for the Gay Games that each year will add more sports into the mix.

The parade will follow the same route as last year, stepping off at noon from West 3rd Street and Rockwell Avenue, heading north, then east on Lakeside Avenue until it turns north on East 9th Street and makes its way to Voinovich Park, on Lake Erie behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Speakers will address the crowd at the rally stage outside of Voinovich Park from 12:50 pm to 1:30 pm, and the festival, like the parade, starts at noon with a multitude of vendors, community organizations and performers.

DJs will provide non-stop dance music, including Billy J’s Disc Jockeys, Big G, Heather Ike, Mike Gunn, Veruka Assault, Mike Textbeak, Chip Bradford, Pink Flash Productions and Saint.

The entertainment runs the gamut from bands like the Breakout Band, Anthony Cavotta, the Angie Haze Project, Carma Delane, Maura Rogers and Color in December to drag troupes like Devinity’s High Energy, Wasted Productions, the Cleveland Kings and Girls, Life’s a Drag, LiquorBoxx and La Femme Mystique Burlesque/Boylesque.

Some of the dancers include Kali’s Fire with their dark tribal dancing and the belly-dancers of Troupe Rajani, while the Rubber City Bombshells roller-derby team always are a crowd pleaser, especially watching them go onto the grass in their roller skates.

Erika Martinez, Veranda L’Ni, Brionna Brooks, Alexandra Love, Athena Ghost and Kiki are just some of the individual drag performers who will keep the day rolling.

That’s in addition to Wing Heart Productions, Viva Valez, Zumba, Renegades, Kade, Roxis, Montrel Blue, She2, Patti L., Da Dollhouze and UN and Ladie JC, who together are Unladielike.

For those who like a little tipple, and judging from the difficulty in moving through the beer garden at Cleveland Pride in any given year that might be everyone, this year will see a shocking development: In addition to beer, they will also be serving wine for the first time.

Unity Through Diversity, reflected in the entertainment, the beverages, the city and, of course, the community. That is what Cleveland Pride’s 22nd iteration will be, most certainly.

For more information on Cleveland Pride, go to www.clevelandpride.org.

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