CLEVELAND — Events are kicking off in Cleveland this weekend to celebrate, advocate and educate people across Northeast Ohio about Pride Month. Pride is dedicated to fighting for equal rights for those who identify as LBGTQ+.
Tonight is just the start of many events this month, organized by the LBGTQ+ Community Center of Cleveland. The center said this month has always been all about advocating for people in our community.
"We're excited that it's a month, you know we celebrate pride all year!" said Lauren Welch, the marketing and communications specialist for LGBTQ Cleveland.
Pride is held during June to commemorate the start of the LGTBQ equal rights movement after New York police raided a gay club called The Stonewall Inn" back in 1969. The raid triggered marches and protests across the U.S.
"We started in Cleveland really at the height of the HIV and AIDS epidemic, really marching for protection and safety of LGBTQ+ people," said Welch.
And those marches here in Cleveland continue to grow.
"We had our largest year in 2019, where we had over 30,000 people out on Public Square," she said.
But last year, Cleveland's march was put on hold due to the pandemic. Instead, organizers with the city's LGBTQ+ community center came up with a socially distanced "pride ride"—which they'll be continuing this year.
"We know that the LGBTQ+ community was one of the most vulnerable populations for COVID, and so we had decided even with the restrictions being lifted to still keep people safe, just to be absolutely sure," Welch said.
Hundreds of people and organizations will be dressing up their cars, bikes, trucks, and vans and riding from Edgewater Park through the Detroit Shoreway and Ohio City neighborhoods starting at 10 a.m. The event is open to public spectators, but registration to participate in the ride itself is now closed.
There will also be virtual programs highlighting the work of local LGBTQ+ artists, musicians and leaders.
"I think there's always more work that we can be doing to protect LGBTQ+ people in Northeast Ohio," she said.
Organizers said they’re already looking forward to gathering in person again next year.
"We imagine we're going to probably have one of the largest pride yet."
Pride Ride Route Information
The roads will not be closed during the event but the LGBT Center said the event is a strict rules-of-the-road parade. To avoid congestion, organizers are launching cars in groups of approximately 15 from Edgewater, by zone.
Leave Edgewater and head South on W. 73rd.
Right on Detroit.
Left on W. 74th.
Left on Franklin.
Right on W. 44th.
Left on Bridge.
Right on W. 28th.
Left on Lorain.
Left on W. 25th.
Left on Detroit.
Finish at the Center – 6705 Detroit.
For a full list of Pride Month events, click here.