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LGBT join in show of unity at Cleveland Pride Fest

The theme of this years festival was “unity through diversity”

By Shanette D. Buford

JULY 12, 2010

Bright colors, multi-culture, freedom and unity describes the atmosphere at the 2010 Cleveland Pride Festival.

The 22nd Annual Cleveland Pride Festival took place on a hot, sunny and humid afternoon at Voinovich Park in downtown Cleveland. The festival brought together attendees from all over the city of Cleveland, on June 26, to celebrate a community which can go unnoticed at times.

This year’s theme “Unity through Diversity” brought together people from all races, ethnicities and generations. The attendees at the festival ranged from 14-year-old to senior citizens.

Many young people at the festival were enjoying the entertainment and music at the Youth House tent location.

gayfestival1The annual Cleveland Pride Festival took months of hard work and planning, but with an eager and engaging staff on board things went smooth, said Adam Bowers, marketing director of Cleveland Pride Inc.

“In January we begin holding planning meetings at our office for anybody
in or out of the LGBT community to attend. Anybody interested in taking a significant role is appointed, and we start formulating ideas about Pride.”

“We discussed things that worked well from last year, things that need to change, and ideas about the theme, etc,” continued Bowers.

Many local and national organizations, such as the City of Cleveland Water department, Pilgrim United Church of Christ, Gay Peoples Chronicles, Playhouse Square, Cleveland Black Pride, Spangle Magazine and Cleveland Democratic Census joined in to express their support.

The festival’s atmosphere was great, exciting, bright, and fun with many different activities, and entertainment. The displays of arts and crafts, attendee’s creative outfits and costumes gave a colorful cultural expression to the meaning of freedom.

“It is great to have a lot of younger individuals helping us out with Pride this year as volunteers; some even as interns or significant volunteers,” explained Bowers, talking about youth taking leadership roles.

“With any community, especially the LGBT where people are emerging and joining continuously as they discover who they are, it is great to see some step up as leaders,” continued Bowers, referring to the youth who volunteer at the festival.

“They are very excited and eager to be a part of the LGBT community and help out a greater cause,” explained Bowers, discussing the youth volunteers who are apart of the LGBT community.

Gay Pride and the LGBT Community all over the United States will celebrate “pride” in different forums and fashion during the summer months. “Pride” has many different meanings for people who are apart of the community.

In Cleveland the LGBT Community is growing in huge numbers with more youth in the 14-24 age bracket, celebrating “unity”, “freedom” and “diversity” in many different ways. At the festival the youth stood out and offered kind words.

“I transferred to Cuyahoga Community College Western campus for the gay community, and to meet new people,” said Deonteze McElrath, a Cleveland native and college student.

“We went to Buffalo, NY for a Northeast LGBT Conference last April. I learned about the difference of a culture. I just started to join to the meeting for Pride. I am also a volunteer for Cleveland Pride,” continued McElrath, explaining his experience of being apart of the LGBT Community.

Being a part of the LGBT Community is something some youth are proud of; they have “another” family that understands and supports them with their decision.
Celebrating something such as “unity” and “freedom” is a milestone in their everyday lives. Cleveland State University LGBT Community does not have a “solid” voice, but has youth who are a part of the community.

“As a recently “out” lesbian I am new to the community I have been comfortable in my own skin for about four years,” said Dominique Butler, a recent CSU graduate.

“I have met a ton of people through my experiences; the LGBT community has been welcoming. It has been one of unity, progression, expression, and has helped me be embrace and openly express myself, at the same time I have had several instances where I have been judged because of my sexuality and have been discriminated against solely on that factor but it has not stopped me from being who I am,” explained Butler, referring to her experience in the LGBT community.

One of the things the LGBT Community celebrated was the passing of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (EDNA), which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In 2014 the Cleveland Pride Festival will also have many other reasons to be happy because of the 2014 Gay Games are coming to Cleveland.

“The 2014 Gay Games have been brought on primarily by the Synergy
Foundation, with some assistance of Cleveland Pride,” said Bowers.

The 2010 Cleveland Pride Festival was a success; with the anticipation that the 2011 Cleveland Pride Festival will be much better.

“We had a lot of that this year, and we hope that this positive energy will continue in consecutive years,” stated Bowers, on the positive feedback of the festival.