On Saturday, June 5th, hundreds of people went down to Edgewater Beach to participate in or watch the LGBTQ Pride Ride, a convoy of cars, trucks, and bikes parading through town celebrating Pride. It was coordinated by the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland. From the decorated cars to the music playing to the flags flying throughout the park, it was clear: love and pride were in the air. Cleveland’s Pride event brought out people of all types of backgrounds, identities, and worldviews, but there was a common love and acceptance that linked everyone together. The Cleveland Observer went to this event to hand out papers and conduct interviews. Here are reflections from our interns who attended:
Trey Razanauskas: As someone who has never been to a Pride event, I was impressed by the way in which Pride extended far beyond a celebration of LGBTQ identities; race, ethnicity, age, ability, and socioeconomic status were all celebrated as well. I conducted multiple interviews with people and asked, “what does Pride mean to you?” People said that pride means “freedom,” “being yourself,” “being out and happy.” The answers I received were uplifting, positive, and moving, and I noticed something interesting. The answers to this question reminded me of the event as a whole. Most of the answers were similar in nature, but each had their own individualized spin and perspective. Similarly, Pride was a celebration of some general ideas and values like acceptance, love, and freedom, and yet the people who attended Pride were extremely diverse and unique. Like the answers to the question, Pride was a show of unity, but this unity was formed by a group of unique individuals. In some ways, the answer to the question about what Pride means was a microcosm of the whole event. To me, this speaks to the fact that unity and acceptance are not only possible, but actually encouraged through being oneself and being proud of it.
Makalla Bogardy: The 2021 pride event took a different turn this year as attendees were instructed to drive in place of walking. The cars were released in groups of fifteen as the roads remained open for the duration of the event. Many participants embraced this change to showcase their creativity through the artistic decoration of their vehicles. Family members and friends demonstrated their support through bright pride flags, rainbow face paint, and the use of specific music to increase energy for the occasion. Families also arrived with matching outfits coordinated for the event. The pride ride was a huge success and it was inspiring to see everyone celebrating and supporting one another. From the multiple interviews conducted, there was one that stood out from the rest. A father, named Kurt, opened up about his experience raising a daughter that is a member of the LGBTQ community. Kurt was raised in a traditional manner and had a lack of knowledge surrounding this circle. His biggest advice to parents is “to educate yourself in every way possible.” It was inspiring to hear such passion and active support from a man who was raised to have completely opposing views. His vehicle had “Proud Dad” displayed across the front with a display of rainbows and banners. It was also a touching moment when Kurt gave a complete stranger a hug as she mentioned the lack of support from her father. Overall, the pride event was a great opportunity to interact with kind, like-minded people and to encourage support for the LGBTQ community.
Robert Carr: Covid-19 has affected everyone in the world. After seeing people get sick from this virus, it has caused them to stay indoors and away from other people. Due to this, people lost their jobs, and everyone had a hard time dealing with staying indoors all the time. Now that the world is slowly getting back to normal, people can have fun at events where they fit in the most. The Pride Ride is an event that many people have been looking forward to for months. The LGBTQ community has a hard time finding a place where they feel accepted. When Covid-19 hit, most of their regular hangouts closed and even some of their places shut down. One of the LGBTQ members, Ishmael Phillips, says, “Most of the bars are closed and that is where most of us LGBTQ people meet at. When Covid happened, it was hard for us to come together because we did not want to get ill.” After everything closed up, people had to move online, and for some people it wasn’t the same. Some people can’t be who they want to be in their own homes, so they can’t get the same support they usually get in their local bars. They lost their normal hang out areas which were like a second home to them. Covid-19 has also affected LGBTQ members’ health care. Another member of the LGBTQ community exclaimed that most members are abandoned by their families, and after Covid-19, it is clear that we need a “medical care for all” type system. Now that Covid-19 is almost over, we are able to have events like this again, and this should inspire more people to come and plan more events that are like the pride ride. These people came here to march for their equal rights and to show off who they really are.
Overall, Pride was an extremely successful event this year despite the altered celebration due to COVID-19. Although the Pride Ride was just one day during Pride month, the impact of it can extend much further. Hopefully this year’s Pride event will increase visibility, assistance, and ally-ship for the LGBTQ community throughout the whole year. The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland is a great place to go for any individuals seeking guidance, resources, and support. For more information about them please visit their website: Home – LGBT Community Center (lgbtcleveland.org)