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Published: Sunday, 8/29/2010

Gay Pride Day draws hundreds to walk, march, donate funds

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
On hand for the march are, front left, Laurel Johnson of Weston, Ohio, Laura Reece of Bowling Green, and Brian Endicott of Fremont, and second row, Rick Hall and Erin Durante, both of Bowling Green. On hand for the march are, front left, Laurel Johnson of Weston, Ohio, Laura Reece of Bowling Green, and Brian Endicott of Fremont, and second row, Rick Hall and Erin Durante, both of Bowling Green.
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Toledo Gay Pride Day Saturday was a three-part affair organized by three groups that don't necessarily see eye to eye, but it drew hundreds downtown to walk for AIDS awareness, march for gay rights, and enjoy themselves at a community carnival in the Erie Street Market.

Sandra Schroeder turned out for the march with her gay son, Matthew Schroeder. "I want everybody to know there's a straight mom here, a mother of five," she said.

Mr. Schroeder voiced hope the march would "bring out the allies of the gay and lesbian community. There's a much larger group of straight allies than people imagine. A lot of straight allies are afraid to show their face."

Kilo Smith, 18, of Toledo has a rainbow flag painted on his face by Shannon Frye. Kilo Smith, 18, of Toledo has a rainbow flag painted on his face by Shannon Frye.
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The Northwest Ohio AIDS Walk in International Park started the day at 9 a.m. and attracted 400 participants, said Laurie Cohen, development officer of AIDS Resource Center Ohio, the sponsor.

Ms. Cohen said the walk's fund-raising goal was $38,000 and pledges were still coming in Saturday night. Anyone wishing to donate can do so by visiting arcohio.org.

"Our walk was really about AIDS awareness and prevention and the services that are available," she said. "HIV doesn't discriminate."

Meanwhile, 70 gay rights marchers gathered outside Government Center, walked down Erie Street and Cherry Street, crossed the Dr. Martin Luther King Bridge to Main Street, and finished up at the pavilion in International Park.

At the Government Center starting point, Alex Read, describing himself as a socialist, delivered a passionate address about liberation for all those with sexual orientations different from heterosexuals.

Bowling Green residents Annie Bishop, left, and Nathan Boysel stop to chat during the Toledo Pride 2010 community carnival at Erie Street Market.
Bowling Green residents Annie Bishop, left, and Nathan Boysel stop to chat during the Toledo Pride 2010 community carnival at Erie Street Market.
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"This is a struggle, ultimately, for a different and better world," said Mr. Read, who is employed by the Social Security Administration.

"We want a world in which different sexual and gender identities are celebrated. To do this, we must rid ourselves of a world in which capitalist greed and thirst for profit is more important than people," he said.

The marchers set off in a festive mood, cheering at the passing drivers who honked their support.

"Hey, hey, ho, ho, homophobia must go," chanted some of them. Their placards carried such messages as "Trans rights now," "Gay rights are civil rights," and "Gay straight black white, same struggle, same fight."

When the group reached the bridge, Lair Scott, an organizer, sat on the concrete balustrade beside the images of Martin Luther King, to address the crowd.

As the tender, using a loudspeaker, repeatedly ordered him off the balustrade, Mr. Scott was defiant, daring the tender to give him a ticket. Before getting down, he told the marchers he wanted a gay mayor and council members in Toledo.

One of the marchers was not impressed. "You know, we're trying to do this right, not be a jerk," she said.

Such behavior is the reason organizers of the Toledo Pride Community Connection Carnival distanced themselves from Mr. Scott and his group, the Toledo LGBTQ Collective, according to Lexi Staples, a carnival organizer.

"The march is a completely separate event from us," she said. "We're in no way connected to the march, but we support the AIDS walk."

The carnival, sponsored by outSKIRTS bar in collaboration with Equality Toledo, featured entertainment that included a late-evening show by drag performers.

Among the groups with carnival tables were several churches as well as Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo Medical Center, formerly the Medical College of Ohio.

For Candice Milligan, a gay rights marcher who is transgender, the day was a big success.

"I'm just thrilled," she said after the march. "Everybody is enthusiastic and supportive. I'm just thrilled."

Contact Carl Ryan at

carlryan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.


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