The Pride Issue: Layers of LGBTQ Progress

2015-16 was a big year for LGBTQ rights, jump-started by the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Following the historic Supreme Court ruling one year ago that legalized same-sex marriage in the United States — in a decision that will forever include the name of Cincinnatian Jim Obergefell, who sued for the right to be recognized as the surviving spouse on his husband John Arthur’s death certificate — this past year has truly become a jumping-off point for LGBTQ progress, both here in Cincinnati and across the world.

The push for marriage equality has gained traction globally; voices big and small have shined light on the crushing realities many transgender people face daily; and powerful new advocates for equality have emerged. 

Locally, the world premiere of the Cincinnati Opera-produced Fellow Travelers has taken on increased meaning in light of the tragic shooting June 12 in Orlando, Fla. The piece in part details how homosexuals were grouped in with “subversives” during the McCarthy Era. The New York Times wrote of a performance on June 19: “The large clusters of audience members who stayed behind in the lobby after Sunday’s performance discussing and analyzing the show suggest that — at this moment in time, in particular — it offered much more than mere entertainment.”

There are still questions as to the motivation behind the shootings, but the nation’s response demonstrated a renewed consideration and respect for the LGBTQ community. Cincinnati quickly illuminated the convention center sign in rainbow colors, and hundreds rallied at Fountain Square and outside Below Zero Lounge in Over-the-Rhine to show support for those affected in Orlando and to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community here. Cincinnati police have taken additional precautionary measures ahead of this year’s Pride celebration.

Having such a horrific event occur in what was previously seen as a safe space for both the LGBTQ community and for people of color, who were the overwhelming majority of the victims in the the shooting, serves as an important reminder of the continued need to fight for equality. Even though history will remember 2015-16 as a monumental year in this push, there is obviously still much to be done.

In celebration of Pride Week, we looked back on the significance of the past year in LGBTQ-related news; touched base with Rachel Dovel, whose fight for health care benefits is furthering the local conversation about transgender issues; and checked in with three local choruses participating in a major national LGBTQ choir festival. And, as always, we looked ahead to a festive week leading up to the Cincinnati Pride Parade and festival on June 25.

— Danny Cross, Project Editor

The Pride Issue 2016