Cleveland Pride Inc. Drops The Baton, CANCELS This Years PRIDE Celebration

Cleveland Pride Cancelled

Cleveland survived hosting the Gay Games, Donald Trump, the Republican National Convention and open carry but now out of the blue the 2016 Cleveland Pride celebration – including the parade and all other festivities – has been canceled.

Separate statements from the Cleveland Pride executive board and the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland confirmed the cancellation. Todd Saporito, Cleveland Pride Inc.’s executive board president and CEO, said that a “changing social climate” in the city led to the fold.

“Cleveland Pride did not have enough time to engage in the development of awareness programs and training that we believe is critical in today’s environment,” Saporito said in a statement posted on Cleveland Pride, Inc.’s website. The event was re-scheduled for August 13th. After moving Pride back two months to accommodate the Republican National Convention

In the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland’s statement, center president Phyllis Harris said she is disappointed but it was “ultimately not The Center’s decision to make.”

“We are deeply disappointed in the absence of the Cleveland Pride celebration this year,” she said. “From the tragedy of the Pulse nightclub shooting to the historic passage of a trans nondiscrimination ordinance here in Cleveland to the ongoing fight for full LGBTQ rights across the country, this is a time when we desperately need an opportunity to be together and to be visible.”

Both Cleveland Pride organizers and The Center officials encouraged people who wanted to attend the parade and its related festivities to still support outlier events that were planned for the celebration week.

One of those events includes an interfaith unity rally on Aug. 7 at the Old Stone Church in Public Square, hosted by The Center. It’s intended to serve as a safe space for “communal mourning” for LGBT individuals and their allies in light of recent violent acts against the community, most prominently the Orlando mass shooting at Pulse nightclub. Participants will also hear from well-known faith leaders in the LGBT community.

“While the specific day of celebration has been cancelled, Cleveland Pride, Inc. seeks to remind everyone that Pride is not a one-day celebration, but a daily act of visibility throughout our community,” the Cleveland Pride statement says.

The parade’s cancellation “does not cancel out the pride we all feel as LGBT Clevelanders,” Harris wrote in The Center’s statement. “We are a community of individuals to be celebrated, to be honored and to be seen, not on this one day, but every day of the year.”

Cleveland Pride, Inc. had been in charge of organizing the LGBT pride parade and festivities since 1989, according to its website. This year marks the first year it will not host the official event.

My gay nerves are tingling that there is more to the story here.  We will keep you updated.

Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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