CLEVELAND, OHIO- June 28th, hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the festivities that help us to remember the many who were ridiculed at Stonewall just 45 years ago. Celebration of the freedom of walking the streets of many alliances in support of equal rights. This years theme was, “Express Yourself.” Many people attack gay pride festivities as a way for gay people to “drag up” and go over the top with their “gayness” and to walk the streets flaunting glitter and purses, but it isn’t that at all. This was a gathering of people who dug deep into the theme and really expressed their want for equality and love. Express yourself isn’t just about being who you are on the outside without the hazing from what people think about you, it’s about loving everyone unconditionally, even if it’s just a mutual friendship love, and being able to do so without looking at people for their faults, or things that make them different from yourself, and also celebrating those difference. It’s acceptance.
On this day, that’s exactly what was done. It was not just hundreds of people taking a stand and celebrating tolerance. They celebrated total world acceptance, and how far the world has come from when stones, bricks, and such were thrown at officers who were arresting folks for being who they were. It was a celebration of a path that was established, a ground breaking for the Gay Rights Movement, and allowed them to walk tall and proud.
The parade lasted about an hour, and the festival lasted all night. Events went on deep into the night such as a cruise on the Goodtime III, and a fundraiser for the International Puppy Contest which was coordinated by The PAAC and the Ohio Gay Pride system. Entertaining was Hershae Chocolatae from season 6 of America’s Got Talent, Miss Ohio Gay Pride 2014, Ashley Austin Ferrah, Mr. Ohio Gay Pride 2014, Izaya Cole, and Miss Toledo Gay Pride 2014, Reianna Ali. They all brought their A game to the stage and a lot of fun was had.
Next year, when you begin to wonder if you should attend pride of any city, I want you to step back and remember for yourself, the pain and suffering those who have come before us, so many years ago, that paved the way for these festivities, and go in their honor.