This story originally ran in the Sept. 10 issue of The Buckeye Flame. Editor and FreshWater contributing writer Ken Schneck graciously allowed FreshWater Cleveland to reprint it.
There won’t be a march into downtown Cleveland with proud individuals walking with intention, waving to the throngs of supportive onlookers. There won’t be crowds in Public Square gathered in front of the stage cheering on the local drag superstars. There won’t be rows upon rows of tables with LGBTQ+ and ally organizations sharing the ways they make a difference. Heck, it’s not even June anymore.
Virtual Pride in the CLE will be airing on all streaming platforms hosted by the fabulous Veranda L’Ni.But make no mistake about it: Pride in the CLE is still happening. It will look a little different, but it is definitely still happening. The celebration started with a Pride Ride—complete with festively decorated cars—on Saturday, Sept. 12; and this Friday, Sept. 25, the celebration continues with a Virtual Pride Event.
To get the scoop, The Buckeye Flame editor Ken Schneck chatted with Lauren Welch, marketing and communications manager of the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, to find out the details. Here is his interview:
Some other cities canceled their Pride celebrations, but it feels like that option was never on the table in Cleveland.
We always knew that–even in the early stages–we wanted to do something, but we knew we had to do something in a way that was mindful of the disparities that the queer community faces, especially as we were getting the COVID numbers in and realizing that black and brown people and queer people were most at risk.
Holding tight to the idea that Pride is obviously all year round, we still wanted to show up in a way that advocated for us and celebrated us. It took some time but with the help of the community, our steering community, and Mallory [McMaster] who has been with the Fairmount Group helping for years with Pride, we were able to come up with the Pride Ride and the Virtual Pride in the CLE.
So, Pride is going virtual?
Yes! And then we’ll go virtual! What’s great about the virtual part is that you can do it from your home and still see a celebration that is diverse and inclusive. It will be airing on all streaming platforms, on YouTube, Facebook Life, and Instagram Live. Veranda L’Ni will be hosting, and we have Apostle Jones Band and Kyle Kidd & Co. headlining.
There will also be a number of performances and spoken word pieces in between. And there will be a moment of silence to honor those who have come before us and those who will come after us, including those who have been murdered because of the transphobia and homophobia in society.
We will get to hear from our community partners and neighbors and really gather in front of our television sets or our laptops, even for just this hour-and-a-half to remember who we are, where come from, and to celebrate the future.
We’ve never been a community that shies away from resilience. The LGBTQ community knows what it means to be on tough times, and these Prides celebrations show that we are not going to lay down for COVID-19. We are going to pick up our rallying boots and torches and we’re going to fight for our community.
Tell us how it feels to be working on this behind the scenes.
I’m excited! I’ve only been with the Center since November, but this has been amazing to see. It’s almost hard to describe the sheer love and support our community has shown towards one another, the amount of support our team has displayed, the huge number of people who have stepped up to say, “What can I do and how can I help?” Pride is not about this one day or one moment. It’s about how we show up for each other.
I’m overwhelmed with joy at how this has come together so quickly. It’s a phenomenal thing to see the community rally. And as we have said time and time again: this is what our community does. We rally and convene.