Opening the Conversation with the Cleveland Pride

From the Cleveland Pride Board of Directors:

As the 2017 festival is upon us, Cleveland Pride Inc. has reflected on recent events and looked introspectively to ensure that active listening, community engagement, and problem solving are at the core of our activities. In so doing, we encourage our LGBTQ and straight-ally community members to have their voices heard. We recognize that freedom of speech is equally applied to those who oppose our community, so we ask that everyone who seeks to exercise this right do so in a safe and lawful manner. We do not support excessive force by any private or public security team, as we place the safety of all of our attendees, with no exception, as our top priority. The confrontation at Columbus Pride last weekend, involving LGBTQ and straight-allies of color and the Columbus Police Department, demonstrates that we, as a community, are still lacking in our efforts to truly hear and understand each other. In spite of our past successes, there is still much work to do, and we cannot rest while some in our community continue to be marginalized and face the threat of violence on a daily basis.

Cleveland Pride celebrates the fact that our attendees, our sisters and brothers, children, friends and allies, represent all colors, shapes, interests, abilities, backgrounds, and faiths. While the needs of these groups vary, we firmly state that Cleveland Pride is and will be a safe space for all communities to celebrate, activate, and educate. We expect all security teams present to be proactive, rather than reactive, using fair judgment in their assessment and response to a variety of known and not yet known scenarios.

Far too often, at a systemic level, we see members of the LGBTQ community and people of color left out of important conversations, their contributions appropriated, and their humanity diminished. Cleveland Pride seeks to stop this exclusion and create an open and equal dialogue with all who wish to work alongside us. If anyone wishes to speak with the Cleveland Pride planning committee, we invite them to reach out as soon as possible so we can most effectively address their needs and ensure that our 28th annual parade, rally, and festival are fun and most importantly, safe, for all attendees. We can be reached at executiveboard@clevelandpride.org.

We ask that all who attend Cleveland Pride do so with the intent to come together, embrace those we know, welcome those we do not know, and celebrate our successes, while identifying new and better ways to achieve social justice. To create the change we wish to see will not be an easy task. There will be uncomfortable conversations, hard realizations, and conflicting views. However, we must respect our differences and revel in our common goals. We must find solace in our sorrows and strength in our triumphs. United We Stand OUT in these common values, for if we are to endure, it will be together, not divided.

While we understand that relationships cannot be repaired overnight, we encourage individuals, allies, and community groups to meet with us in the weeks after the festival to continue these conversations, reflect on our successes and work on our shortcomings, so that we might strengthen our bonds and create long-lasting change.