Third Annual Pride in the CLE Festival Returns to Public Square as Two Pride Events Unite

Sat 6/2 @ Noon-6PM

LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland executive director Phyllis Harris believes there can’t be enough pride events in the city. However, the community felt otherwise last year regarding both the Cleveland Pride and Pride in the CLE affairs.

Now, change is afoot in the community with the recent announcement that Cleveland Pride and Pride in the CLE events are merging. The result is the Pride in the CLE March and Festival, which takes place Sat 6/2 in downtown Cleveland. The March steps off at noon from E. 17th and Lakeside Avenue and ends at Public Square.

The weeklong schedule of events throughout the community includes the LGBTQ Cleveland: Book Launch Party (May 30), Pre-Pride on the East Side: Cleveland Queens Rock the Grog (May 31), Stonewall Sports Pride Run (June 1), Flat Out Pride: Pride in the CLE Official Opening Party (June 1), PFLAG Pride in the CLE Breakfast (June 2) and GG9 Reunion Brunch (June 3).

As for the Pride in the CLE Festival, this year’s event is headlined by Pepper Mashay with nonstop music all-day long, as well as local community programming and food and beer vendors.

CoolCleveland talked to Harris about the Pride in the CLE March and Festival.

CoolCleveland: Before we talk about the Pride in the CLE March and Festival, can you give us a recap of recent events?

Phyllis Harris: It’s a year of refocusing for us. In 2016, the LGBT Community Center was approached by Cleveland Pride Inc., which is another local nonprofit organization that has traditionally presented the city’s annual Pride event. Pride was pushed back to August rather than June for the RNC. They were concerned that there might be some safety issues around producing the event that year. So we had a very honest conversation. We left the meeting feeling Pride couldn’t happen that year. And then subsequent to that were additional meetings where community leaders and members really rallied together to produce the first Pride in the CLE event 13 days later.

CC: How did that come about?

PH: It really was the call of the community who said we think it’s important that we provide a parade and festival. So as the LGBT Community Center, one of things we say it’s the people who make up the Center. We want to be responsive to community needs.

CC: So what happened last year?

PH: We had such a great response from the previous year and encouragement to continue the Pride in CLE as annual event. We communicated that to Cleveland Pride Inc., which also hosted their date for the Cleveland Pride Parade and Festival. The way we really saw that is you can’t have enough pride, but we were getting feedback some community members asking if could combine the events into one. The model for Pride in the CLE is that there is a week of events that take place. We’re not sort of hidden off in the corner. We’re out front. We thought that worked well. We ended last year knowing we were going to do it again this year with the same expectation Cleveland Pride Inc. would host a festival. Then we learned that Cleveland Pride wouldn’t be doing that. In fact, the organization would be disbanding and they were willing to offer us the Cleveland Pride trademark.

CC: Looking ahead, what’s the message to the LBGT community about Pride in the CLE March and Festival?

PH: This is a model that we can look to going forward. It’s a model that does include a march and a festival and pride activities. We want corporate representation, but we want it to be pride for the people, so we’ll continue to do that. We have a march to demonstrate our resistance, to let people know that we still are fighting for our rights; and the festival is to celebrate who we are and to have a good time and to invite people in to see who we are and celebrate with us. We think we have the right model so far, and we look forward to seeing everyone on June 2 in Public Square.


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