After facing a hateful demonstration by members of the KKK and at least 15 tornadoes destroying homes and businesses, Dayton needed a reason to raise their heads up.
Citizens gathered together to celebrate what makes them special over the first weekend in June for Dayton Pride 2019.
Over 5,000 people attended the weekend’s festivities, including a performance by the RubiGirls and the Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus, a “Spikes and Heels” kickball tournament, a 5K run/walk and the centerpiece of the event, a massive parade and community festival on Courthouse Square seven days after it was commandeered by a hate group.
Pride is a celebration of all LGBTQ members of the Dayton community; a time for these individuals and all their supporters to put their cares away and embrace who they are in a safe and welcoming environment.
2019’s incarnation of the event is the 43rd of its kind, and the 5,000 person attendance was the highest in the festival’s history.
Over 55 local and national businesses marched in the parade, including Warped Wing Brewery, PNC, CareSource, Equitas Health and LGBTQ groups from Wright State University and Wayne High School.
The main program of the day was hosted by Carrie J. Summers, host of Masque nightclub’s weekly Friday and Saturday night drag shows, Josh Stucky, the founder of the RubiGirls, and Josh Martinez, a host for popular Dayton radio station 99.9 FM.
The trio manned the stage for roughly four hours, introducing performers, holding a runway contest, audience karaoke and giving the microphone to several guest speakers, chief of these being Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.
Whaley spoke on the progress made, and the work that was far from over for the LGBTQ community:
“We’re here to take a short break and look back and celebrate 50 years of hard work… but the work is not done.”
Summers gave her thoughts on hosting the show and the importance of Pride:
“I’m hot, sweaty and falling apart. But I’m still here, still queer… Pride to me is everything because especially as gay people, lesbian, transgender and gender fluid, you know, whatever you are.”
“It is so important to own what you are and not be ashamed of it and show the world, because if the world knows that you’re ashamed of it, then they’ll use that against you. But instead we came out and we have masses of people here that are all really proud to be who they are.”
The RubiGirls announced a huge milestone for their organization, raising $2 million for HIV research and treatment since the group was founded 35 years ago.
Sinclair Community College made its presence felt at the event, hosting two booths for interested citizens.
BriTe SiGnaL Alliance, the campus organization dedicated to creating a safe space for LGBTQ students, attended the event, passing out flyers, painting faces and giving out resource guides to the crowd.
In the Sinclair Community College booth, Multifaith Campus Ministry Chaplain and LGBTQ liaison Larry Lindstrom represented the college in his first Pride, greeting people, offering buttons and starting conversations with attendees.
“I am amazed at the energy I guess I would say, bordering on chaos but that’s alright,” Lindstrom stated about the atmosphere of the event. “I’m very impressed, I think that this brings together a lot of folks that would otherwise feel pretty isolated… you can tell this is a community that appreciates the support that it finds here.”
This was the first Pride event where the college sent a representative, and Lindstrom hopes the practice will continue:
“Quite a few folks have been pleasantly surprised to know that Sinclair had a presence here,” Lindstrom explained. “I think that the school can be very proud to be here, and I’m hoping we will continue to do that. I think it’s really cool to be right here where [the college] can be seen.”
One attendee, Elisha Chamberlin, was a recent Sinclair graduate enjoying the festivities.
Chamberlin participated in last year’s Pride, and appreciated the way the organizers of the event help make members of the LGBTQ community feel included.
“It shows that Dayton does care about us,” Chamberlin said. “[Pride] helps me live the way I am and allows me to be unapologetically myself, regardless of what people think.”
A large focus of this year’s Pride was history. 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots of 1969.
The three day riot in New York City brought about a radical paradigm shift for the LGBTQ community, as they were no longer interested in living in secret and demanded their voices be heard and social changes be made.
In the spirit of preserving this history and not forgetting the journey it has taken to get to the point they are now, Dayton is calling on those versed in local knowledge to help them with pinpointing the LGBTQ history of the Gem City.
In conjunction with the Stonewall riots, Dayton citizens spoke out, held events, ventured to bars and helped the acceptance of diversity.
This is the Greater Dayton LGBTQ+ Herstory/History Project.
The Dayton Metro Library, and the Greater Dayton LGBT Center are hosting the project and asking anyone with knowledge of these events to help commemorate the efforts made by Daytonians during the ongoing movement to secure truly equal rights for the LGBTQ community. They can be found on Facebook.
Dr. Yvette “Diva” Williams, adjunct professor of English, took part in her third Pride, calling it “a blast” and explaining why the event is necessary for her.
“I needed to be around people that don’t judge, that love unconditionally, and that are just here to be themselves,” Williams said. “We’ve just been bludgeoned by so much lately, you know, we’ve had so much hatred in Dayton lately. We’ve had so much controversy and national controversy that normally doesn’t come here but they picked our city and to have this, right afterward. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.”
“I’m very, very proud of the way this city has pulled together and just ignored the bulls*** and just still came together and did what we’re supposed to do. Not just as this sector, or this sector, or this sector–we came and we did this shit as f***ing human beings and that’s what the f*** I needed.”
The weekend’s festivities ended, and the work resumed as it was, but the LGBTQ community of Dayton and their allies will look back fondly at the huge gathering of like-minded individuals that celebrated without the need of 12 feet high fencing, or 300 officers standing guard.