"This year we are honoring all the folks that have done so much hard work before us," Bonnie Meyer, the co-chair of Northern Kentucky Pride, says of their upcoming festival and parade, which is in its 10th year.
But — as Meyer points out — 2019 also marks the 20th anniversary of Fairness in Kentucky.
In 1999, Louisville and Lexington were the first cities in the Commonwealth to pass the anti-discrimination Fairness Ordinance. Since then, eight cities have joined their ranks — including Covington, Vicco, Frankfort, Morehead, Danville, Midway, Paducah and Maysville. The statewide Ohio Fairness Act is currently on the table in the Ohio Senate.
Nationally, this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a flashpoint in the movement for LGBTQ civil rights.
“I believe the time is right — we have so many conversations that are happening around fairness in Ohio. They’re talking about a statewide fairness ordinance or non-discrimination policy that would include sexual orientation and gender identity," Meyer says. "We’ve heard more conversations happening in Kentucky. I think our governor’s race will be really important in how that shakes out. But here we are in Kentucky. We have 10 cities that have fairness ordinances and we’re just going to keep pushing for more.”
Pride month is part of that push, but as elections draw near, those conversations and that advocacy will continue. In their 10th year, NKY Pride is gearing for their third annual parade in Covington with an extended route that will include more local businesses.
Leaving from Covington Landing at 1 p.m., the parade will wind around the neighborhood, stop in front of a judges' table at Braxton Brewing Co. and end in Goebel Park, signaling the start of the PrideFest party.
The latter event will include live music, over 50 vendors, beer from Braxton and Bircus, parade awards, a kids' zone and more. The party will keep on going at an after-party at Hotel Covington with host Sarah Jessica Darker.
If you want to start the festivities earlier in the day, Lil's Bagels will host a pre-party with cocktails from New Riff Distilling, sandwich specials, Pride gear and accessories, queer lit from Roebling Point Books & Coffee and the parade sign in.
In a statement, Covington mayor Joe Meyer said that people "should interpret the city's participation in Pride events as a strong and formal declaration of support for the LGBTQ community." On Thursday, June 6 from 5:30 to 8 p.m., NKY Pride will also host an awards ceremony at New Riff Distillery to honor individuals who have made an impact on the lives of LGBTQ citizens in Northern Kentucky.
“Here in Covington we don’t care how old you are, what you look like, who you love, or how you identify," Mayor Meyer said. "We invite you to live in our City, work in our businesses, eat at our restaurants, and be part of our community."
Bonnie Meyer says that Covington has the platform to talk about Fairness in Kentucky. The Cov was the third city to pass an act statewide and the first — and only — to do so in Northern Kentucky. Conversations with other area communities are ongoing and, though Meyer can't say for certain, she believes it's likely that another NKY city will join the Fairness ranks by the end of 2019.
Meyer says she's encouraged by the ongoing conversations.
Youth is another focus of the parade. The planning committee meets in accessible locations where young people can be included in the conversations. Meyer says that students from Northern Kentucky University — where she also serves as the director of LGBTQ Programs and Services — and area high schools have also been involved.
"Everything we do is around education, advocacy, visibility and awareness and making the world a better place for the future, truly," she says.
This year's event is also sponsored by Equitas Health, one of the nation's leading LGBTQ-inclusive healthcare organizations, who announced in March that their next location will be in Cincinnati. (Equitas Health also has locations in Columbus and Dayton.)
"People that need to have that super-inclusive ‘we understand queer and trans health’ — there’s a new option for us," Meyer says. "We’re thrilled to have them onboard as a partner.”