Cincinnati Pride’s big festival and parade may be canceled this year, but organizers are still finding ways to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.
The organization is planning a variety of smaller or outdoor events for June to celebrate Pride Month, including a Pride Market at the Park on Sunday, June 27. A collaboration with the Greater Cincinnati Gay Chamber of Commerce, the pop-up market in Washington Park will spotlight roughly 25 LGBTQ- and ally-owned retail businesses that have been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Dustin Lewis, entertainment chair for Cincinnati Pride, tells CityBeat that though the Pride Market and other upcoming events aren’t replacements for the traditional festival, they’re still vital for supporting LGBTQ+ individuals.
“Pride is so much more than just a festival or a parade,” Lewis says. “Cincinnati Pride felt incredibly fortunate to maintain so many wonderful and longtime partnerships and sponsorships with many organizations in our community this year, and more than anything, we felt a responsibility to find ways to deliver Pride, albeit different and more safely.”
Lewis says that in addition to retailers, the Pride Market will feature queer DJs and LGBTQ-owned food trucks. Safety is an important consideration, Lewis says, and vendors will be distanced. Signage will direct foot traffic and remind attendees to spread out and wear face masks to prevent COVID-19 transmission, and volunteers will be near each entrance to share why shopping at the market is meaningful.
“We don't want people to just look and say, ‘Oh there's shops.’ We want them to know, 'OK, it’s a Pride Market’ and these local vendors are here for a reason and a purpose today,” Lewis says.
Businesses wanting to participate in Pride Market at the Park can apply by submitting this form.
Cincinnati Pride is planning additional activities for June, including Pride Community Night when the Cincinnati Reds take on the Colorado Rockies on June 11 and a Pride Pool Weekend at Ziegler Park’s pool June 12-13.
Organizers are also working on a weekly partnership with the Esquire Theatre and planning a Pride Movie Night during the Washington Park Summer Cinema series, an art reception at the Wyoming Art Center, a food and bar passport to LGBTQ- and ally-owned businesses, and a variety of virtual programming, Lewis says.
“The COVID pandemic has deeply affected our community, as our strength has always been in our togetherness and our diversity,” Lewis says. “The isolation affecting all of us has made it more challenging for individuals who lean so deeply on community to serve as our chosen and surrogate families, our solidarity in a world that at times has questioned our worth and dignity and our comfort in finding safety with others sharing our identities.”
“Pride is more than a singular event, an annual gathering or a Facebook photo frame — it is a spirit of resilience and strength that lives in and is celebrated by LGBTQ people,” Lewis continues. “Our hope is to focus our work on creating numerous spaces and opportunities for people to come together, to celebrate and to remember where we've been and where we're going next — to be proud of Cincinnati and the people who make this city a more colorful place for all of us to live.”