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J Pride Gathers a Heartening Show of Support at Cincinnati Pride Festival
By: Samantha Stein
7/18/2011 

Photo Cred: Samantha Stein
On Sunday, July 10, thousands braved the heat to come and show their support for the gay community at the Cincinnati Pride Equinox 2011 parade. Held on Fountain Square, the day included a festival stage with live entertainment, multiple booths selling wares and inviting people to join gay rights’ initiatives, and, of course, a parade boasting fabulous floats, drag queens, and swag.  

The Jewish Federation’s own JPride organization had a booth set up, offering candy, mailing lists, and information. Since its founding last year, JPride has united several different Jewish organizations and agencies in Cincinnati, including the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, the Jewish Community Relations Council, Jewish Family Services, the Greater Cincinnati Board of Rabbis, Mayerson JCC, the Manuel D. and Rhoda M. Mayerson Foundation, and four synagogues: Temple Sholom, Isaac M. Wise Temple, Adath Israel, and Rockdale Temple. Heading up the JPride booth this year was Rabbi Schulman, who gave a stirring sermon the week prior to Pride encouraging the Jewish community to come out and show their support. Schulman seemed pleased with the community’s response to the group. “Our mission is to help the Jewish community be more welcoming and accessible to everyone who would like to reach us.”

Cincinnati is less notorious for its gay culture than some Midwest cities. Chicago and Minneapolis have put themselves on the map with an impressive array of nightclubs, bars and organizations dedicated to supporting its city’s gay members. Cincinnati’s pride movement has been growing steadily, however, and last weekend hundreds of businesses came out to show their solidarity with the gay community. 

Photo Cred: Samantha Stein
One corporation of note who marched in the parade was Procter and Gamble, who has a known history of supporting gay rights in and out of its workplace. They have a GaBLE (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender employees) section of their 7 North America Corporate Affinity Networks. True to their philosophy, they had an extensive number of employees and their children marching in the parade, as well as a booth offering free P&G products and information on their diversity network. Other corporations with similar resource groups that showed up to march included Fifth Third Bank, FedEx, General Electric, US Bank, and Kroger. 

Along with local businesses, many organizations dedicated to bettering life for the city for the GLBT community marched as well. Members of the Human Rights Campaign were there, as was Caracole, a Cincinnati based outreach providing housing and healthcare to individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS.  They had a well thought-out float, considering the heat: a pickup truck with an inflatable pool in the bed, with water guns filled from it and squirted into the crowd. A progressive UCC church had gay couples marching with their children, holding signs encouraging marriage and equal partnership for all.

Other memorable parade moments included the various cars sporting the Kings and Queens of the Equinox GLBT court, a float from 701 bar with rainbow bracelets tossed out the windows, and a host of people walking in pairs or alone, dressed in a way that would be considered outlandish in everyday society but was liberally embraced by this accepting crowd.  It was a refreshing reminder that there is diversity in Cincinnati, it is increasingly more prevalent, and positive changes are on the horizon for the GLBT community.

Samantha Stein is an arts critic, opera singer and music teacher in Cincinnati. She holds degrees in Classical Voice Performance from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music and the Chicago College of Performing Arts. In addition to writing for David's Voice, she maintains an active blog, somanynotessolittletime.blogspot.com, and performs around this wonderful city. Her schedule can be found at www.samanthastein.com