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May 6, 2011

Bullying is out of fashion

Sultry models filled the space under the sweeping arches of the Cuyahoga County Courthouse’s center concourse at the Human Rights Campaign’s gala Dare2Care: Unite Against Bullying evening of fashion and performance last weekend.

In addition to a runway fashion show, there was singing, drag, poetry, dancing, comedy and speakers, uniting to fight against the bullying of youth, which has led to many high-profile teen suicides over the last few years.

Part of the May 1 soirée was the presentation of the winners of the Dare2Care Poetry Scholarship, promoted by the Cleveland LGBT Center for the past few months. Mary Kate Krizman’s “This Cinderella Shoe” took first place, followed by Seth Wyckoff’s “Just Like You” in second and Haley Kuhns’ “I Was Your Daughter” in third place.

Kuhns is a junior in high school, while Wyckoff is senior. Krizman is a freshman at the University of Akron, and her poem was also printed in the Plain Dealer.

Around 300 people attended the event, which was billed in the program as “our May Day Gay Day.” The event will return next year, spectators were promised.

In addition to the performances, a silent auction filled with lavish goods benefited the Cleveland LGBT Center.

“This event manifested at a time and place that was right: collaboration, integration, and unity was the theme of the evening from an individual to an organizational level.” said event chair Liz O’Donnell. “We wanted to shatter prejudice and open hearts and minds and we want Cleveland to know that this is just the beginning.”

Vice chair Joe Ward concurred.

“There are many more courageous conversations to be had--we would ask everyone to commit to doing something to bring compassion and engagement to the fight for equality,” he said. “Support your local teens by supporting the things that are important to them. Giving them a voice was what they told us they needed. Lending them our ears has to continue.”

O’Donnell interjected, “It didn’t hurt that we had some fun doing it in a venue that is all about justice in a city that the nation likes to poke fun at. Well, who’s laughing now? Viva la Rust Belt!”

--Anthony Glassman

Photo: Brian DeWitt

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