It’s spring 1973. In Cincinnati, the modern gay rights movement is in its infancy. Efforts are gaining momentum in the aftermath of the 1969 police raid of New York City gay bar The Stonewall, an act that sparked countless instances of protest and rebellion across the country. Bravely standing in the face of conservative ideals and old world sensitivities, 40 courageous LGBTQ Cincinnatians congregate on Fountain Square to march for gay rights awareness, an act of pride that will be celebrated for years to come.
The public pride celebration — Cincinnati’s first — gave birth to Cincinnati Pride, an organization now 40 years strong that promotes the acceptance of all individuals regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Garnering more members and support every year, Cincinnati Pride has grown to include a weeklong celebration of diversity that emphasizes the importance of individuality in the community.
Pride week is here, and it’s teeming with opportunities to celebrate diversity in the Tristate. New events held each day beginning June 26 lead up to Cincinnati Pride’s 40th anniversary parade and festival on June 29, which features an extensive list of entertainment and activities too copious to count. And although Cincinnati Pride has undergone a significant transformation since that initial march in 1973 — namely larger parades and more capacious crowds — the celebrations’ focus on embracing diversity prevails. Visit cincinnatipride.org for more information.
Pride Movie Night: Cincinnati Pride’s very first Pride Movie Night shows the critically acclaimed civil rights documentary The Sons of Tennessee Williams, which tells the story of the gay men in New Orleans who created the culture of “drag balls” during Mardi Gras as a means for celebrating an underground culture before the gay liberation movement began. 7:30 p.m. (doors open 7 p.m.) June 26. Free, no tickets required. Know Theatre Underground, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatipride.org/movie-night.
Pride Interfaith Worship Service: This evening of readings, music, prayer and inspiration celebrates the spiritual side of Pride. Clergy and lay leaders of diverse religious and spiritual perspectives honor how people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are embraced and respected within their various faiths. Chris Seelbach will be speaking at the event as well. 7 p.m. June 27. First Unitarian Universalist Church, 536 Linton St., Avondale, cincinnatipride.org/interfaith-service.
Skyy Vodka Pub Crawl: Toast to Cincinnati Pride Weekend at 20 local bars. A $10 wristband (sold 8-10 p.m. outside Below Zero, Millennium Hotel Cincinnati, Chameleon and Rosie’s/701 or pay at the bus) grants admission to three shuttle loops all night long and free access to any bar with a cover chargecincinnatipride.org/pub-crawl.
Pride Parade: Participants have been challenged to reflect Cincinnati Pride’s 40th anniversary in their floats; those that do so will be automatically entered into a float contest awarding winners with a trophy, free 2014 parade entry and (most importantly) bragging rights. Visit cincinnatipride.org/parade for a map and complete route, which winds from Seventh Street downtown to Sawyer Point. 2 p.m. June 29. Various entry fees. Parade begins at Seventh and Culvert streets, Downtown, cincinnatipride.org/parade.
Pride Festival: Cincinnati Pride keeps the fun going after the Pride Parade. Dance to live entertainment from Debbie Gibson (8 p.m. on the Kroger Stage) and local acts Jonathan Zeng, Penny Tration and more. The festival ends with a bang at 9:30 p.m. when the first-ever Pride Fireworks presented by Procter & Gamble light up the sky. 3 p.m. June 29. Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove, 700 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, cincinnatipride.org/pride-week.Commitment and Recommitment Ceremony: This group ceremony is the perfect place for same-sex and straight couples to pledge their commitment to each other publicly. Officiated by the Reverend Sharon Dittmar, participants will receive a Certificate of Commitment and the opportunity to have commitment photos taken. Cake and champagne will be served after the ceremony. 6 p.m. June 29. $25 per couple in advance; $35 per couple at Pride (must be 18 or older to participate). Sawyer Point (lawn in front of Kroger Stage), 700 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, cincinnatipride.org/commitment-ceremony.
AfterPride Brunch: Wrap up Pride Week with this feast presented by Cincinnati Pride. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. June 30. $20 online; $25 at door. Tonic on Fourth, 125 W. Fourth St., Downtown, cincinnatipride.org/afterpride-brunch.
NORTHERN KENTUCKY PRIDE
The party doesn’t end in Cincinnati: Join Northern Kentucky Pride as they celebrate Northern Kentucky and its support of the LGBTQ community. NKY Pride has participants riding, running and crawling through festivities ranging from pride rides and pub crawls to doggie drag races. Brunch at the Radisson’s 360 will wrap up the weekend, accompanied by a raffle featuring fantastic prizes. Earn an entry for each activity you attend.
The festivity-filled weekend is an exciting extension of NKY Pride. In the past, activities have lasted only one day; under new leadership, NKY Pride has grown to incorporate larger crowds and an even wider variety of events. By providing resources and promoting a sense of community, the organization strives to support and empower the area’s widely diverse individuals, achieve equality for all and give back to all members of the community through scholarships and grants. Visit nkypride.net for more information.
Pride Ride: This bicycle ride through Northern Kentucky includes stops at several LGBTQ-owned businesses with plenty of glitter, swag and fabulousness to go around. The ride begins 7 p.m. at Goebel Park and ends at The Crazy Fox Saloon (901 Washington Ave., Newport). 7 p.m. July 5. Goebel Park, Philadelphia St., Covington, nkypride.net.
5K Run/Walk: Kick off a day packed with pride at this 5K run/walk through downtown Covington neighborhoods. Keep an eye on NKY Pride’s official Facebook page (search “The Official Northern Kentucky Pride Page”) for additional details. 9 a.m. July 6. nkypride.net.
Northern Kentucky Pride Festival: This celebration has activities galore: local musicians, drag performances, karaoke, food trucks, local beer, cocktail creations and much more. The Love Makes the Cov Family Exhibit showcases LGBTIQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, queer or asexual) photos from Northern Kentucky families. Noon-7 p.m. July 6. Goebel Park, Philadelphia St., Covington, nkypride.net.
Puppy Pride/Drag Your Dog Out: Pride week isn’t just for people! Dogs parade around Goebel Park decked out in Pride-themed costumes. Best-dressed pooches will win prizes for most original, best pride and best human/dog pride look-a-like. Doggie drag races, kiddie pools, photos and more comprise a full afternoon for people and pups. 4 p.m. July 6. Goebel Park, Philadelphia St., Covington, nkypride.net.
Pub Crawl: Make sure bring along your Official Northern Kentucky Pride passport (available at the NKY Pride information booth) as you make your way through Covington’s LGBTQ watering holes — Rosie’s, 701, Pike Street Lounge and The Loft. Get your passport stamped at each stop and leave it at your final location for a chance to win prizes during Sunday’s Pride Brunch. 6 p.m.-1 a.m. July 6. Various locations. nkypride.net.
Pride Brunch: This meal, complete with raffles and a full buffet at the Radisson’s 360, is a delicious way to end the week’s events. 11 a.m. July 7. $19.95. Radisson 360, 668 W. Fifth St., Covington, 859-491-5300.