It was the spring of 1973 in Cincinnati. The Reds were starting the season that would see them finish first place in the National League West with a 99-63 record; TV's "The Brady Bunch" had filmed their annual vacation episode at the newly opened Kings Island in Mason and a group of GLBT men and women gathered on Fountain Square to march for gay rights awareness. This was all happening as the modern gay rights movement was in its early stages; growing out of the protest momentum in the wake of a raid of The Stonewall, a club in New York City in 1969.
Standing up for what you believe in takes courage. Now consider this was the early 1970s, when Cincinnati, always known for its conservative ways and old world sensitivities, was not exactly on the top of the list of locations to emerge as a leader in bringing the gay rights movement out into the open. So this gathering of some 40 men and women in the center of Cincinnati's Fountain Square was the purest form of bravery.
Cincinnati Pride was born. We come together annually to celebrate the first public pride celebration in Greater Cincinnati held in April 6 - 8, 1973.
From that first march and celebration, Cincinnati Pride has grown to include a week-long celebration of our GLBT diversity. Over the years, Cincinnati Pride has taken on several forms and names as a dedicated group of individuals and local GLBT organizations would take part in shaping its growth. There were tough times along the way and our local pride efforts would mirror those struggles seen across the nation and the world as we stood for acceptance and equality. The movement would face challenges from HIV, AIDS to marriage equality and "don't ask, don't tell" along the way.
By the late 1980s Cincinnati's Pride movement had grown steadily and so had its presence in the Tri-State. Parades grew longer and the crowds at our festivals grew bigger. As the 1990s passed and a new century approached, the world saw an explosion of GLBT awareness and acceptance and so, more of us began to stand up and come out.
Grand Marshal History
Since the first gay pride celebration in Cincinnati in April 1973, Pride parades have been led by Pride marshals. The group is diverse, talented and truly reflects the diversity that is the Cincinnati area. For the 40th Anniversary (2013) all grand marshals were invited back to participate again. Beginning in 2015, a new category of community awards such as “community service, pioneer, business, education, religion and spiritual” is created. The honorees will be celebrated at a special reception and also honored in the parade.
Karen Aronoff (2010): Worker for equality, locally, regionally and nationally through her efforts with the former One Human Family and her subsequent work on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Greater Cincinnati Steering committee. Karen is a founding organizer of HRC of Greater Cincinnati and serves on the HRC national Board of Governors in Washington, D.C.
Phebe (Karen) Beiser (2008): Retired Librarian, activist, writer, founder of Ohio Lesbian Archives.
Randy Bridges (2010): Tireless promoter and fundraiser for various Cincinnati charitable causes. He was one of the first to do HIV benefits in the early 80s. Randy, who owns the On Broadway Bar, has supported the community through endless fundraising activities over the years.
Doris Marks Callis (2010): Doris is currently the Special Events Coordinator for Stepping Stones. She is well known for her fundraising efforts, including a long history of work with HIV support organizations. A friend of pets, she is also active in dog rescue groups. Doris also represents Karen Lindner Designs in new accounts and publicity, for her one of a kind jewelry made with antiques.
Michael “Goose” Chanak (1993): Retired P&G employee advocate/activist for Gay/Lesbian inclusion in Equal Employment Policy (1985 - 1992), division diversity facilitator; corporate adviser on HIV issues and gay community, published writer, journalist, publicist and broadcaster; GLBTQ News Associate editor; contributor to The Word (Indianapolis), Former member Gay & Lesbian Community Center, with over 3 decades of service to Cincinnati volunteer involvement from the Old Coalition, to WAIF/Alternating Currents, Gay Cable Network, GL OutFront TV, This Way Out, Cincinnati Pride. In 2014, Michael was honored by the International Court System and the local ISQCCBE (The Court) with the International Jose Julio Sarria Civil Rights Award and the Lydia Grant Humanitarian Award.
Ron Clemons (2014): Ron has been active in the GLBTQ community for over three decades. He has an undergraduate degree from Miami University and a master's degree from the University of Cincinnati. Both degrees are in Social Work. He received an Associate's Degree in Photography from Antonelli College in 2004. Ron’s has done photojournalism assignments for Outlook, Gay People's Chronicle and The Word. He is licensed in the State of Ohio as a Licensed Independent Social Worker, (LISW). In addition, he has served on the Board of Directors of Caracole, Inc.
Ron is a former President and founding member of SCORPIUS of Cincinnati, a local leather club in the Cincinnati area. He is also proud to have served as Mr. Ohio Valley Regional Leather Pride 2009.
Michael Cotrell (2010): Currently works for a mobile medical company and is the president of PFLAG Greater Cincinnati (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays). He is the current President of the Greater Cincinnati Gay Chamber of Commerce and is active with ISQCCBE (Imperial Sovereign Queen City Court of the Buckeye Empire All of Ohio, Inc.) raising money for local non-profit organizations in Cincinnati and N KY area.
David Crowley (2006) (Deceased): David was a former Cincinnati council member and Vice - Mayor. A tireless fighter for equality, David on his first day as a councilperson became the leading voice for repealing anti-gay Article 12. Voters agreed and repealed the anti-equality article in 2004.
Michael E. Dorobek (Award date unknown) (Deceased): Former manager/bartender at The Dock, long time community fundraiser for many causes, notably HIV/AIDS.
Cheryl Eagleson (2009): Former Marketing Director, The Corporation for Findlay Market, past President of Queen City Careers Association and first President of the Gay Chamber. Former Vice president of the Board of Caracole, Inc., producer of Alternating Currents GLBT Radio Show, WVQC lpfm, WVQC Radio Advisory Committee at Media Bridges, Cincinnati FBI Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee, Board member FBI Citizens Academy Foundation - Cincinnati, Ohio.
Patti Herrmann (2004): Activist, and organizer most recently taking a lead role in establishing Northern Kentucky Pride (beginning 2010). She is a former Gay Lesbian Coalition President and spent years advocating and raising funds for people with AIDS. Patti is the co-founder and current board member of The Martha Kidd Foundation, a grant making charity.
Adam Hoover (2012): Adam Hoover is a Miami University student who has organized a series of statewide rallies and protests from Cleveland to Cincinnati to Youngstown to advance the cause of Marriage Equality. Adam gives his goal to achieve Marriage Equality in Ohio.
The Rev. Dr. Paula M. Jackson (2008): Rector, Church of Our Saviour/La Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador Episcopal since 1990. Lecturer/workshop leader/author: "What Does the Bible Say about Being Gay? -- Probably not what you've been told!" (¿Qué Dice la Bíblia cerca de Ser Gay o Lesbiana? -- ¡problablemente no lo que has oído!)
Scott Knox (2005): Founding member in a firm handling mainly GLBT issues, probate, and disability cases; Board member and Secretary of Strategies to End Homelessness; Board member of Equality Cincinnati and Equality Cincinnati PAC; Board Chairperson of the Cincinnati Citizens Complaint Authority; member Pro Bono Task Force Committee, 1st Judicial District, member Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor; lecturer on LGBT and HIV legal issues. Scott won the 2014 Cincinnati Bar Association Potter Stewart Inn of Court “Andrew B. Dennison Courageous Advocate Award” for representing “the poor, the friendless, and the unpopular.”
Kathy Laufman (2004): Since 1995 Kathy has been committed to the Safe Schools work of GLSEN Greater Cincinnati (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). A retired school social worker, she is a youth advocate, community activist and proud grandmother. She was the first ally who is straight to be selected as a pride marshal.
Lynne Lefebvre (2012): Lynne is a longtime supporter and advocate of our local Cincinnati chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. She spent seven years in leadership roles, including Vice President. She continues as a tireless supporter of parents and their gay children.
Crystal Loomis (2014): Crystal studied Business Management at the University of Cincinnati. Her activities include: Development Director for the CNKY Film Festival (2012, 2013, and 2014); Community Outreach Board Member of GLSEN Greater Cincinnati (The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network), GLSEN Prom organizer (2013), involved with Youth Summit and CYG (GLSEN Cincinnati Youth Group) and a former board member of the Gay & Lesbian Center of Greater Cincinnati. Crystal also served as a board member of the Cincinnati Trans* Community Group.
Rusty Lockett (2011): President of the Greater Cincinnati Gay Lesbian Community Center and chair of the ever-popular Pride Night at Kings Island. Rusty is the chair of the National Episcopal AIDS Coalition. His roles within the Episcopal Church have included Junior Warden of a local church, as well as, convener of Integrity. He served as an intern for the former AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati and a producer for QNation.FM. Rusty was awarded with the Distinguished Order of the Buckeye Empire (for life) from the ISQCCBE (The Court) in 2014.
John Maddux (2009): Associate Professor of English at UC, published writer, activist in the community for over two decades, former Vice President of the Gay & Lesbian Community Center, former three year Coalition president. John was a six-year board member of Stonewall Cincinnati, and Chair of the Stonewall Task Force on Discrimination. Co-founder of the former GALA-Ohio.
Scott McLarty (2001): Media coordinator for the Green Party of the United States and the DC Statehood Green Party, living in Washington, DC.
Megan Neal (2011): MSW/LSW, former Co-facilitator of GLBT group at Gay & Lesbian Community Center, Case Manager at Necco - Therapeutic Foster Care/Independent Living, Social Worker at Lighthouse Youth Services and former president of the QCRB (Queen City Rainbow Band).
Vic Ramstetter (2008): Published writer, co-founder of the Ohio Lesbian Archives. She is well known in the women’s community as both a resource and trainer/presenter on lesbian history.
Worley Rodehaver (2008) Deceased: Original publisher of the Greater Cincinnati GLBT News, and editor of METRO Neighbors/Northsider. He was the recipient of the N KY PRIDE Jim Kippenberg Journalism Award for his commitment to publishing news about the GLBT Community. He was co-founder of Integrity Cincinnati, helped organize the Queen City Business Association and was convener of Great American Youth discussion group.
Ronn Rucker (2007): Retired from Cincinnati Health Department, he is credited with two others (Dr. Evelyn Hess and the late Michael Ritchey) for establishing Cincinnati’s response to the combat and educate about HIV. He and his life partners, Ruth and Les live in North Bend. Ronn is a member of Church of Our Saviour in Mt. Auburn.
Chris Seelbach (2012): The first openly LGBTQ community member that ran for City Cincinnati council as a democrat in November 2012, and won. Chris is the 2013 winner of the Harvey Milk Champion of Change Award for his commitment of equality and public service. As a council person, he led efforts to extend health benefits to all city employees, including same sex couples, and requiring anyone accepting city funds or subsidies to agree to Cincinnati’s non-discrimination policies. Chris resides in Over the Rhine with his partner of 8 years, Schultz and their four cats. (Josh Thomas Moore and Richard Buchanan had attempted earlier runs for council in the late 70s and early 90s respectively).
Peter A. Thompson (2000 - 2004) Deceased: “Peaches LaVerne” internationally known and locally loved as the long-standing hostess of the old Subway Bar. Billed as the regions oldest female illusionist and was a beacon of pride and courage. (2004 the only person to be elevated to “Queen Mum”, Pride Marshal 2000-2003).
Shane Que Hee (2000): Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, UCLA; Facilitator, Out Against War; Facilitator, LA LGBT Greens. Member: Out and Occupy; UCLA LGBT Faculty/Staff Network. Shane resided in Cincinnati from 1978 – 1989 was associated with the Lesbian Gay Academic Union (LGAU); the early years of Stonewall Cincinnati, organizing for the Midwest portion of the 1987 March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights; the formation of the Gay Lesbian March Activists (GLMA) after the march, and initiated direct organization for Cincinnati’s Human Rights Ordinance. He and his lover, Bob McNee were a well-known activist couple. Shane also contributed to the Cincinnati GLBT magazine To the Root(s) and edited the LGAU and GLMA newsletters.
Marian Weage (2007): She is 2008 Graduate of NKU in Musical Theatre Performance, working as an actor, church secretary, organist and choir director, continuing to speak at universities, churches, schools, corporations, etc. on diversity. Marian and two others (Todd Kamm & Ron Mohring) were the founders of PFLAG Greater Cincinnati in 1985. Marian is the proud grandmother of four.
Larry Wolf (2008): Retired from University of Cincinnati. Educator, published author and long term activist, LGAU (Lesbian Gay Academic Union - University of Cincinnati), GLMA (Gay Lesbian March Activist - formerly the March on Washington 1987), Larry is a World War II veteran resides in Clifton.