After Middletown’s second Pride event drew a much larger crowd than the first last year, organizers in Hamilton set plans for that city’s first event this summer.
Both are now adjusting those plans to work on connecting members of the LGBTQ people and their families in different ways in the latest of big-event adjustments because of the coronavirus.
In Hamilton, rather than holding June 13 events highlighted by a concert at the RiversEdge Amphitheater, the committee organizing the event announced it will host a month of online activities, and performances through the month by the band that was to play.
Likewise, Middletown’s third annual Pride event will happen June 26, but the activities will be interactive and virtual, said Mel Kutzera, one of the organizers.
“We’re still proud,” she said.
New York City-based The Skivvies had planned to fly in, but instead will make videos specifically for Hamilton’s Pride events, and those will appear online each Friday in June.
The Skivvies, whose Nick Cearley is a gay man originally from Hamilton, perform in their underwear. They have appeared at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts, and Cearley has performed on Broadway.
“They offered to make us some videos to post,” said Taylor Stone-Welch, chairman of the Hamilton Ohio Pride Committee. “They’ve recorded these videos specifically for us, so it’s kind of fun. Because of coronavirus, they’re on separate screens, in their own homes because they couldn’t get together.”
Hamilton’s Pride organizers also are putting together age-appropriate lists of films, television shows and books around LBGTQ subjects, including gay-rights history. Those will be categorized into age groups of children, young adults, and adults.
“I know everybody wishes we could get together like we planned,” Stone-Welch said. “Nobody’s really enjoying that the summer’s going to be different than we expected.”
“But I think the things we’re planning for online are going to be pretty exciting. I think people will actually enjoy seeing the videos and enjoy some of the activities we’re going to do. It’s not exactly what we were going to do, but I think it’s a pretty good alternative.”
The goal of the events is to celebrate diversity of all, promote inclusion and help raise awareness of sexual and gender diversity, while creating a sense of community for LGBTQ people and their families.
In Middletown, Kutzera said because large events are not permitted to be held because of the coronavirus, organizers are considering different ways to celebrate Pride this year. Downtown business owners may be asked to decorate their windows and there could be chalk art on the sidewalks, Kutzera said.
She said the Pride event may be postponed until later in the year, but organizers are waiting for approval from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to allow for large gatherings. Hundreds of people attended the first two Pride events in downtown, she said.
“We wanted to make sure that even though we’re not physically having an event, and we’re not going to be getting together in person, that there’s still the sense of the initial mission of the group,” Stone-Welch said. “And that’s why we’re going to do different things throughout the whole month — keep people engaged all through June.
“It’s the best that we can do given the circumstances. I think it’s the responsible decision.”
Local Pride events to go virtual, worldwide
There’s at least one benefit to the fact the Hamilton and Middletown gay Pride events will be virtual next month, rather than in-person, because of the coronavirus crisis: Area natives and others who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend can participate online.
A look at some activities:
- Hamilton's Pride event will happen throughout June, with a post each day of the month. The best way to follow is on the Facebook page, Hamilton Ohio Pride, or on Instagram. Postings also will happen at www.hamiltonohiopride.com.
- Each Friday in June, The Skivvies will have a video performance created just for Hamilton's event.
- There also will be suggested age-appropriate reading and viewing lists for children, young adults, adults and families to spark conversations about LGBTQ pride and related subjects. People can check off the list as they view or read, if they'd like.
- Each day of the month, Hamilton's Pride committee plans to post something, such as about history. For instance, this year would have marked New York City's 50th Pride celebration, but it also has been called off because of coronavirus. That celebration would have happened June 28, the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a watershed moment in the gay-rights movement.
- Middletown's Pride event will happen virtually on June 26. The Middletown Facebook page is called PRIDE Middletown.