Monday, June 11, 2001

3,000 show their pride at gay events

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        They were religious and nonsectarian, dressed in T-shirts and in drag, gay and straight, young and old. But the hundreds who marched Sunday from Burnet Woods in Clifton to Hoffner Park in Northside had one thing in common: a shared belief in gay rights.

        The Gay Pride Parade culminated in a festival at Hoffner Park, where at least 3,000 people picnicked, listened to music and frequented more than a dozen vending booths over the span of nearly six hours, organizer Ken Colegrove said.

        Sybil Ortego, 63, of the West End was among throngs of bystanders along the parade's 2-mile route.

        As the marchers passed her on Ludlow Avenue, she cheered and banged a spoon on a tin coffee canister.

        “We need to be supportive of gays in this city,” said Ms. Ortego, a heterosexual.

        “They need to have an equal voice. (Cincinnati) is not gay-friendly, but we need to wake up.”

        Parade-goers said the pride march drew attention to Greater Cincinnati's growing support of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

        City Councilman John Cranley made an appearance at the parade to shake hands, as did council candidates David Crowley, Laketa Cole and John Schlagetter.

        Marchers cited as evidence the hundreds of people who stood along the parade route and cheered them.

        They also pointed to the growing number of religious groups that participated.

        Carol Gudorf of Independence came with her two sons and a group of about 20 people from her church, St. John's United Church of Christ in Bellevue.

        “We are part of a denomination that believes in being open and affirming,” Mrs. Gudorf said.

        “We believe God created each individual just as God intended. We don't question that.”

        Others said Cincinnati has a long way to go.

        Rebecca Hammond, 23, of Corryville, who carried a sign that said “I'm bi and I will not be invisible,” cited the 1993 passage of Issue 3.

        Issue 3 was a city charter amendment that barred Cincinnati from providing protected status or preferential treatment to people of homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation.

        She said the language for the charter amendment — which she called “legislated hate” — confused voters.

        “I'd like to think the city of Cincinnati is not that hateful,” she said.

        “But I could be wrong.”


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