Newsmakers: Toledo Pride weekend builds communityWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
By Dave Kubacki
Toledo Free Press Star Staff Writer
With nearly 10,000 people in attendance, 2012’s Toledo Pride weekend was the most successful to date, organizers said.
The festivities kicked off Aug. 10 with the inaugural Toledo Pride 5K Glo Run. Participants, holding glow sticks and following an illuminated path, traversed through the University of Toledo’s main campus. Despite Mother Nature’s best efforts, Event Director Lexi Staples said the race was a success.
“It was terribly rainy and we were kind of discouraged by that,” Staples said. “We still had 150 runners, which we thought was phenomenal for our first time.”
Aug. 11’s main event was the second annual Toledo Pride Parade. More than 30 organizations participated in the parade, which started Downtown on North St. Clair Street and Jefferson Avenue and ended on Adams and North St. Clair streets.
Mayor Mike Bell and Jennifer Tyrrell were the parade’s grand marshals. Tyrrell gained media attention for speaking out against the Boy Scouts of America’s policy banning gay participants after she was removed as her son’s den mother for being gay. According to Kelly Heuss, marketing and communications coordinator of Toledo Pride, Aug. 11’s events were truly the soul of the weekend.
“Saturday is really our main event,” Heuss said. “It kicks off with the parade, which sets the tone. Following the parade, Support Marriage Equality actually held a mass commitment ceremony for six couples.”
The events wrapped up Aug. 12 with the Sunday Funday at Owens Community College. The event gave the community a chance to come together for a picnic and ice cream social.
“It’s important that the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community has the sense of unity,” Heuss said. “By being more visible in the community, it makes it much easier to show the rest of Toledo that the LGBT community is just like everyone else. We have families and we love the same things as everyone else. ”
According to radio personality Steve Reamey, Toledo has become more accepting of the LGBT community.
“I remember when I had to sneak into a gay bar because I was afraid someone would see me,” Reamey said. “Now, nobody cares. The bars are open. Our community has much more outspoken gay people in the community that are part of the mainstream.”
Plans for the 2013 Toledo Pride events are still in process. The first item on the agenda will be figuring out where this year’s events will take place. Staples said she’d love to move the events back to Promenade Park, but that will depend on whether or not construction and renovations are complete. Regardless of where the event is, the goals remain the same.
“We are just trying to build community and create connections,” Staples said.