The Pride guide

What you need to know about Dayton Pride Weekend

By Miranda Brooks

The Greater Dayton PRIDE celebration is looking to one-up itself this year. Marking the 40th anniversary of The Greater Dayton LGBT Center’s inception, and in honor of this Ruby milestone, organizers have put a call out for all “friends of Dorothy” to join in the festivities while donning their ruby red slippers. Organizers have put a call out for all friends and allies to enjoy everything PRIDE weekend has to offer.

The Dayton LGBT Center has been, and continues to be, a community resource for sexual minorities (and their allies). The Center provides programs and support aimed at enhancing the lives of those who identify as/with LGBT. Additionally, the Center’s contributions are the driving force behind the weekend long PRIDE celebrations, with this year’s theme being, more or less, 40 years of pride.

“PRIDE is purely a weekend where any individual—LGBT, or ally—can come out, and be exactly who they are by sharing a family friendly festival altogether, with no pretenses,” the Center’s board president, Randy Phillips, says.
PRIDE kicks off Friday, June 3 with “An Affair on the Square.” The opening event hosts a food and beer truck rally at Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton. Entertainment for the night is provided by none other than Dayton’s own Rubi Girls. Afterwards, folks are encouraged to participate in a .5k (mind the decimal) bar crawl along the endearingly termed “fruit loop”—a route that supports gay-friendly establishments (Stage Door, MJ’s on Jefferson, Club Masque and The Right Corner).
Saturday morning begins with breakfast at MJ’s on Jefferson at 8 a.m. “This way people can fuel up for the day,” Phillips added. The official PRIDE Parade steps off at noon, beginning at St. Clair Street and following a path leading back to Courthouse Square. From there, the parade is welcomed and the actual festival takes place until 4 p.m., complete with road closures. Allison Cox, a board of trustees member for the Greater Dayton LGBT Center, and entertainment committee member, says PRIDE attendance this year is anticipated between 3,000 to 4,000 people, with a few hundred of those festival goers being children. Therefore, a youth and children’s area—Rainbow Land—is being introduced for the first time.

“The whole festival itself has expanded considerably,” Phillips explains. Rainbow Land will include a small stage for the youth to share poetry and music. A bouncey house is available, and there are rumors that a Ferris wheel may even be included.
Saturday afternoon’s entertainment will be emceed by local celebrities Montana McDaniels, Brent Sabean and Mary Jane. Entertainment is provided by such notable Dayton acts as Good English and Cherry Lee & The Hot Rod Hounds.

“Additionally, we leave an open space for any public officials who wish to speak,” Cox says. “And with it being an election season, we definitely expect to see that coming as well.”
Sunday’s activities include a true 5k (Running with Pride), which benefits PFLAG Dayton—an advocate for affirmed inclusiveness of gender expression and equality. The run/walk is followed by a wacky, inaugural round robin kickball tournament titled “Spikes and Heels.”

“It’s not your average kickball game,” Phillips says. Teams are encouraged to create a theme and dress accordingly. “It’s a very campy event designed to have fun.”
Returning as a proud supporter and ally is PNC Bank. The company’s financial investment in PRIDE boosts the festival’s accessibility and reach.

“They have certainly stepped up to the plate, both last year, and certainly this year,” Cox says. When asked about the term “ally” in regards to the supporters of PRIDE, Cox responds, “It’s brave for a company to say, ‘We are going to support this. This is important to our organization, and to our employees.’ I certainly consider that an ally. I think that is a great way to describe what they’re doing for the festival, and what they’re doing for Dayton.”

Other PRIDE allies include Budweiser, AIDS Resource Center Ohio, Kroger and MJ’s on Jefferson.
Last year about this time was the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of gay marriage, and despite that highest affirmation, the LGBT community must still strive for equanimity as continued resistance occurs in the way of rhetoric designed to demean their cause.
“The festival continues to grow, and with that growth comes, of course, more attention, and not necessarily all of the attention we want,” Cox says.

“I think it’s important for people to experience new and different things that they may not be presently comfortable with.”

Mostly, though, PRIDE is an event for everyone; no one is excluded. “PRIDE is a safe, fun festival. We hope everyone comes out,” Phillips concludes.

Dayton Pride weekend takes place Friday-Sunday, June 3-5 at various locations in Dayton and beyond. For more information, please visit daytonlgbtcenter.org. 

Reach DCP freelance writer Miranda Brooks at MirandaBrooks@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Miranda Brooks at MirandaBrooks@DaytonCityPaper.com

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