Cornett: Fifth annual Toledo Pride festival and parade biggest and best yetWritten by Rick Cornett | | CountryConnection@toledofreepress.com
The fifth annual Toledo Pride festival and parade is now secured in my Toledo Area LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Historical Archives. By far the biggest and best since the event started five years ago with only 2,500 in attendance at the Erie Street Market. This year we surpassed the 20,000 mark for the three-day events.
With time and growth, the event has gained allied support from not only the community but major corporate sponsorship like Fifth Third, Yark Fiat, Miller Lite, KISS FM, TARTA, Park Inn, Owens Corning, Huntington Bank, Hollywood Casino Toledo and many others. Events like this can’t succeed without financial support from caring businesses in the community who believe in supporting equality for all people within the local LGBT community.
This year I attended the festival with my new friend, James Meyers, a bright and talented young man who had never attended a gay pride event before. He expressed an interest to help and assisted me with selling Toledo Pride merchandise for a few hours. It was a joy to see the first time excitement of someone just experiencing that kind of love and acceptance from thousands of LGBT people and our allies. He sang, danced, rejoiced and truly embraced a loving community of people just being themselves. It was a joy to introduce someone new to this community and trying to find their way.
With mainstream acceptance, I sometimes feel the local LGBT community is losing the unity we once had. Toledo Pride brought back that warm feeling we all enjoy at Christmas time. All of Toledo’s gay bars — Mojo, R House, Legends Showclub and Bretz – joined forces and sponsored the event and were present in the parade.
Of course we had a small group of protesters shouting out hate and contempt for a birth-given sexual identity they don’t understand nor do they care to. They were outnumbered and quickly faded into the rainbow colored celebration they tried to disrupt.
Media coverage this year reached an all time high and was the best so far. All of the local TV stations covered the event, giving great support to attract people down to the events. Many radio stations including KISS FM and WSPD devoted much air time to promoting the event.
For the fourth year in a row, Toledo Free Press served as the media sponsor, publishing an official 34-page “Pride Guide” packed with news, information and photos the week before the event. For the first time, The Blade really got behind the event and devoted two cover stories to Toledo Pride.
Promenade Park was overflowing with vendors from all aspects of the gay and lesbian community ranging from religious, political, educational, support groups, charity organizations, gay marriage, financial institutions, merchandise booths and more. Food and drink vendors were also up this year to the delight of many.
A wide range of entertainment lasted all day until the festival ended at midnight. Featured acts included Flabongo Nation, Pastele Pasquelina, Eryn Woods, Breaking Ground, Dumb Easies and Chavar Dontae. Drag kings and queens featured this year included Gina Arnaz, Porsha Armani, Muffy Fishbasket, Amber Stone, Deja Dellataro, Bois with Outskirts, London Asia and Brook Lockhart. Pride Rides on the Sandpiper were a huge hit again this year as festival goers enjoyed a breezy 40 minute ride on the Maumee River.
I want to personally send out a huge THANK YOU to everyone involved in making Toledo Pride a success this year. The full time committee who work on and off all year with neverending dedication. The army of volunteers who help tie everything together. The many major and minor sponsors who donate financially, physically and in kind. All the print, radio and TV outlets who help spread the word. All the entertainers who donate their time and talents. And the thousands and thousands of LGBT people and our supportive allies who attend. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!
Rick Cornett is a promoter, historian and activist of the local LGBT community serving on the Toledo Pride, Holiday with Heart Charity Gayla and Toledo Area LGBT Historical Archive committees.
Tags: Amber Stone, and Chavar Dontae. Dranf kings and queens featured this year included Gina Arnaz, Bois with Outskirts, Breaking Ground, Bretz, Brook Lockhart, Deja Dellataro, Dumb Easies, Erie St. Market, Eryn Woods, Fifth Annual Toledo Pride Festival and Parade, Fifth Third Field, Flabongo Nation Pastele Pasquelina, gay bars, Gay Pride, Hollywood Casino, Huntington Bank, James Meyers, KISS FM, Kiss FM radio, Legends Showclub, LGBT community, London Asia, Maumee River, Miller Lite, Mojo, Muffy Fishbasket, oledo Area LGBT Historical Archives, Owens Corning, Park Inn, Porsha Armani, Pride Rides, R House, Sandpiper, TARTA, WSPD, Yark Fiat