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June 17, 2011

Dayton Pride says, ‘Thank you for being a friend’

Dayton--Marching from Cooper Park to Courthouse Square, the Dayton Pride Parade had one message that it made loud and clear on June 4: “Thank you for being a friend.”

The two people being honored for their friendship to the LGBT community were former Mayor Rhine McLin, who left office last year, and Lt. Wendy Stiver, the LGBT liaison for the Dayton Police Department.

Political thinkers in Dayton blame McLin’s support for gay civil rights ordinances for her defeat in the 2009 election, but backing the measure in 2007, she released a statement saying, “I have been challenged by friends on both sides to make the right decision. Clearly, the right decision for me personally would be to ‘abstain’ or find some obscure rationale to vote ‘no,’” she said. “This would be politically expedient, but would it be the right thing to do as mayor of the city of Dayton?”

“It has been nine years since the City Commission first discussed this issue. Justice delayed is justice denied. It is time to do the right thing,” she noted.

The measures passed on November 21 of that year.

Lt. Stiver made the rounds of gay events this spring, talking at the March 8 PFLAG Dayton meeting about her work to make the police department more LGBT-friendly, both for their fellow officers and for dealing with the greater community.

Dayton LGBT Center board member Randy Phillips noted that the women were honored “for their ardent work to make sure we are welcome in our own communities.”

This year’s festival brought over 2,000 out, pouring into Courthouse Square at the end of the parade route. It was a hot day, Phillips noted, but even with attrition due to the heat index, a lot of people lasted until the 6 pm close of festivities.

“Rob Austin had a full day of entertainment scheduled from 12:30 all the way to 6 pm and it was packed with high-energy performances throughout the day,” Phillips said, pointing out, “Some live vocalists, familiar drag queens, everyone got to share a little bit in everything.”

He also noted that efforts to make the festival open to everyone paid off. “We saw a lot of families come out and stay throughout the day,” he noted, pointing out that everyone was welcome, gay or straight.

“Of course, we had a few protesters too, but as we said, all are welcome,” he laughed.

In addition to a record number of attendees, Phillips said there were also a record number of vendor booths, and they were all quite pleased.

“Even all of those vendors said that they had a very good day as far as their sales were concerned, so in that respect, we had a fantastic day,” he noted.

Pride Dinner and Expo on June 25

The Dayton Pride festivities are far from over, however. While the parade and festival have passed for this year, the Pride Dinner and Expo are still to come. Held this year on June 25 at the Ponitz Center at Sinclair Community College, the event begins with the business and non-profit exposition with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at 5 pm, followed by the dinner at 7 pm.

Lt. Stiver will give the keynote address to the assembled throng, and entertainment will be provided by comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer.

“I think we’ll have a very good time with her,” Phillips said.

While sales are already on par with previous years, he said that they are going to be doing an intensive push over the next week and half, “so I have full confidence we will top even last year’s sales.”

Tickets to the Pride Dinner and Expo are $45, and are available on http://daytonlgbtcenter.org.

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