LGBTQ+ communities and allies came together and celebrated the freedom to be themselves

June is Pride Month when many of the nation’s largest cities hold their main marches including New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, and Minneapolis. Along with the marches, Pride organizers filled the month with events ranging from readings and performances to parties and street festivals.

Our region was fortunate to host three, large and separate Pride gatherings: NKY Pride, Cincinnati Black Pride, and Cincinnati Pride. All three organizations are rooted in the heavy history of groups who have struggled for decades to overcome the ill-effects of prejudice while simply trying to be accepted for who they are.

This year’s Pride celebrations took place in a contentious political climate where state legislation around the country has sought to ban drag shows, prohibit gender-affirming care, and limit how teachers can talk about sexuality and gender in the classroom.

Despite this, events locally were not disrupted. The region’s Pride celebrations kicked the month off with NKY Pride’s traditional Pride parade through the streets of Covington followed by an all day celebration in Covington’s historic Goebel Park and Mainstrasse entertainment district. 

“It's a very interesting year to plan a Pride celebration,” said Bonnie Meyer, President of the NKY Pride Center and co-coordinator of this year's NKY Pride celebration. “With that being said, this year’s NKY Pride celebration was the most beautiful, amazing show of support that I have ever seen.” 

With a total of 47 parade entries for the NKY Pride parade, in addition to over 100 vendors for the NKY Pride celebration which followed, this year’s NKY Pride was the largest and most successful in its 14-year history.

This year’s NKY Pride was the largest and most successful in its 14-year history.It’s been documented that it was a Black, transgendered Marsha P. Johnson, who in part, led the 1969 uprising at New York’s Stonewall Inn, an act of resistance to police repression of LGBTQ people.

Early on in the gay community’s struggle for equality, Black author and social activist James Baldwin was one of the few public figures who consistently delivered inspiring and influential commentary on the state of society and politics which incorporated LGBTQ+ ideology helping to fan the flames of equality. 

But many mainstream LGBTQ spaces, even during Pride Month in June, don’t incorporate Black LGBTQ culture into their annual celebrations.  

But, not here in Cincinnati 

“Cincinnati Black Pride provides a safe space for people of color to be their authentic self, perhaps the only time of the year,” says Ron Clemons, Cincinnati Black Pride board member and program committee chair person for the organization. 

This year, Cincinnati Black Pride created a week-long celebration of the local Black LGBTQ+ community and its allies from June 15-18 with an end goal of honoring the needs, achievements, and contributions of Black LGBTQ+ people, which are traditionally overlooked. 

One of the organization’s annual events, which took place on June 16, was the presentation of the 2023 Vizazi Awards which celebrate the rich legacy and promising future of the Black LGBTQ+ individuals and families in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. 

The week-long celebration was highlighted by the sixth annual partnership of Cincinnati Black Pride and the national Black Alphabet Film Festival (BAFF) to host a one-day film festival of films celebrating and showcasing Black LGBTQ+ life experiences. Showings included a commemoration of film maker Maurice Jamal with Dirty Laundry; a short film Rainbow Box by Michael Coppage; Black Rainbow Love by Ohio's own Angela Harvey, and short film Body Language by Odu Adamu. 

To close out Pride month, Cincinnati Pride kicked off on June 24 as the City of Cincinnati celebrated 50 years of Pride in Cincinnati.

The Cincinnati Parade began the day with a parade at 11:00 am. The parade route began at 7th & Plum Streets, traveled down Vine St. past Fountain Square, and ended at the Cincinnati Pride 2023 Festival at Sawyer Point & Yeatman's Cove which went on throughout the day until 9:00pm.

“Our biggest challenge has been basic uncertainty," said Jake Hatch, Director of Communication from Cincinnati Pride. "With Anti-Drag legislation popping up throughout the country, coupled with targeted legislation made to hurt trans sisters and brothers, it has created uncertainty for the greater community.” 

As Pride month wraps up, and year-round as well, remember that Pride is meant to be a celebration of all identities of the LGBTQ+ community as well as the spaces where they can bring their whole selves to be seen. This was a focal point for all of the region’s Pride events.  
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Read more articles by Kareem A. Simpson.

Raised in the inner city of Covington, Kentucky, Kareem Simpson is an author, innovator, community enthusiast, military veteran, serial entrepreneur, foodie and lover of all things creative.