CLE PRIDE “Wrap Up” 2014

Today (actually yesterday, at this point) was the 26th Annual Gay PRIDE celebration in Cleveland, Ohio. As with a number of years past, I was unable to attend due to work obligations and just general “grown-upp’ed-ness.” It is Sunday morning, 12:52 AM as I write this, and I know “the clubs” are still teeming with post-PRIDE revelers, riding the high of a day spent just “being gay,” fueled by inspiring speeches, I’m sure an electrifying performance by CLE PRIDE headliner Debra Gibson (the former “Electric Youth” Debbie Gibson of my early/mid 20’s), an army of female impersonators, gender queers, gay families with kids, gay families with dogs/cats/iguanas, LGBT vets, Gay and Gray groups, etc.

And The “Beer Garden,” the most popular attraction at any gay PRIDE celebration.   😉

PrideParadeRainbowBannerI found this image on BING; if you know the source/photographer, please let me know so I can credit it properly.

As for me? I just woke up beside three piles of clean-but-yet-to-be-folded laundry on my bed. It appears I have slept thru another PRIDE…

I mean no disrespect, and have actually enjoyed the images/status updates that have peppered my Facebook page all day. Cleveland PRIDE is 26 years old, one of the oldest continual PRIDE celebrations in America. That fact alone is a source of PRIDE (get it?) According to Cleveland.com (see link above), early estimates place PRIDE attendance this year at around 32,000 people. Not bad, CLE, not bad. Is it the 500,000 that Capitol PRIDE (Columbus, Ohio) boasted, or the over one MILLION said to attend World PRIDE in Toronto a week or so ago? Not even close – but I am PROUD of our PRIDE here in Cleveland, and thankful for its continued presence in our community.

I wish I could have supported PRIDE this year, but as so often happens, life and responsibilities got in the way again. For years I attended PRIDE and felt connected to a much larger community than was typically my day-to-day existence. For one day, for those few hours, we ARE all just one people – the barriers of sexuality, gender, race, class, age and ability all seem to fall away and for those few magical hours, we are all the same. I think THAT is the true magic and meaning/purpose of any PRIDE event. I never thought of it as a coming together of all these diverse groups within our own community, our community just being one diverse group within the much larger context of the general population; instead, I always likened gay PRIDE to a pride rally in high school – you know, the event before a big game where all the sub-groups of school (jocks, nerds, The Plastics, the every mans, all of them) just come together under one, singular umbrella to celebrate and build spirit. That is what PRIDE feels like to me – a gathering of many different people with one common goal – to celebrate all the facets of the LGBTQQIT/SA experience (we have WAY too many letters now, LOL!)

So, CONGRATS Cleveland, on another year of PRIDE! I hope the “party” goes beyond the next few hours, after the bars close, and continues for days, weeks, months and years to come. If “The Gays” know one thing, it is how to throw a party – let’s keep the spirit and purpose of this one going for as long as possible…

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