Pride and shame.
As a gay man, Steve Glynn battled with both for much of his adult life.
When he was a seaman in the United States Navy, Mr. Glynn proudly served his country. After receiving an honorable discharge, he returned home to Toledo, where he eventually opened a business and settled down.
"I went to work and paid my taxes just like everybody else," said Mr. Glynn, 54. "But I only had to be in the straight world if I chose to."
Mr. Glynn was surrounded by his family, but that was the last thing he wanted.
"I pictured my life away from the city, hiding from my family for the rest of my life," he said. "I didn't think they'd ever accept it."
Once he finally worked up the nerve to tell them: "They didn't talk to me for years."
For decades, gay Americans across the country have faced battles similar to that of Mr. Glynn. The resulting tension led them to form communities, groups, and organizations that sparked political and societal changes.
This weekend, Toledo Pride will gather to celebrate its members, their strides, and society's progress. The third annual festival will open Friday with the first ever Nite Glo 5K run on the University of Toledo's main campus. The main event, Toledo Pride 2012 will take place from 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday at Levis Square in downtown Toledo. The Sunday Funday family picnic will take place on the campus of Owens Community College from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. This year's festival is expected to attract somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 people.
After being alienated by his family, Mr. Glynn sought solace in an atmosphere where he didn't have to hide and where he could be himself.
"I went to work at gay bars," he said. "I didn't have to tell anybody I was gay, but if I wanted to, I could. Either way it was fine."
While things might have been fine inside the bars, what was brewing outside forced Mr. Glynn and others in the gay community to keep quiet about their sexuality.
"Religious people would scream at us, as we were going into the bars, that we were going to hell," Mr. Glynn said. "And there was a lot of violence. There were some clubs, when we left, we knew it was time to fight. Straight men would be in the parking lot waiting to beat us up and hassle us.
"It was definitely a different time back then."
In those days -- the late 1970s and '80s -- gay clubs were generally underground. For safety purposes and patron privacy, clubs kept low-key profiles.
"Most of them didn't have signs," Mr. Glynn said. "You kind of had to know where to go, but once you got in there, you knew exactly where you were."
Inside, the walls were painted dark, lights kept low, and windows, if there were any, were boarded up.
Terry Hymore spent years working in bars, including a few gay bars. Mr. Hymore, who is straight, owns Ripcord Bar, a downtown spot with a clientele that is 95 percent gay. Mr. Hymore recalls club-goers trying to conceal their identities.
"Gay bars had back doors so people could come in and no one would see them," Mr. Hymore said. "They wanted to have a cocktail after work too, but they weren't accepted everywhere. [Gay clubs] were home for them. Think of it as their living room."
Lexi Staples started going to lesbian clubs as a young teen. Somewhat different from the men's bars, the women's clubs were less discreet.
"By the time I started going out, you'd see a rainbow in the window, but no sign on the marquee," said Ms. Staples, 32, co-owner of Outskirts, a lesbian bar in West Toledo. "Other than that, they didn't do much advertising. If you didn't advertise, you didn't get people who weren't OK with the lifestyle."
The prejudices were different for lesbians than gay men. Violence was less prevalent in the lesbian community, but homophobic slurs and questioning were rampant, Ms. Staples said.
"People would question me about whether I was a guy or a girl," Ms. Staples said. "I've been grabbed by the arm and pulled out of women's bathrooms because I look more like a boy. That wouldn't happen in a gay bar."
Over the years, changes and advancements have occurred within the gay community. People became more open about their sexuality and in turn, society became more accepting, Mr. Glynn said.
"The biggest change was people got tired of hiding," Mr. Glynn said. "They started pushing back."
Patrons at the Ripcord, are more likely to enter through the front door now, instead of sneaking in through the back. The sign outside of R-House bar, owned by Mr. Glynn and his partner of more than 30 years, Joe Wise, has a big marquee with rainbow colored letters.
And the gay community's annual picnic, which was usually held at a private club or residence, is now held at a city park and draws thousands of people each year.
"The fact that we can now have a gay pride festival in Toledo, it says a lot," Mr. Glynn said. "Toledo is catching up."
Contact RoNeisha Mullen at email@example.com or 419-724-6133.