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Where to celebrate Pride this June in Cincinnati

City of Covington
City of Covington

Several cities throughout the Tri-State will host Pride festivals this summer, some of them for the first time.

The festivities kick off this weekend in Hamilton and Northern Kentucky. On Saturday, June 1, Hamilton will hold a march and festival in its downtown area. The event will start at Rotary Park and finish at Marcum Park by the river.

Hamilton Pride organizer Taylor Stone-Welch says support for the festival has been strong since it started a few years ago and has continued to be a source of hope for LGBTQ+ individuals in the community.

"Every Pride event I have some magic moment where a family is walking by and they say 'hi' and we get to talking, and they're like, 'Hey this is our son. He just came out to us last week. We were so excited when we realized that Pride is here, and we brought him to show that we love and support him,' " Stone-Welch told WVXU. "We're constantly getting those types of messages from people who actually live in this area who feel like it's a personally empowering and impactful thing to come to our event."

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Bonnie Meyer from Northern Kentucky Pride says community support is what keeps local Pride events going strong, especially in places that traditionally haven't always been welcoming to the queer community.

Northern Kentucky Pride is preparing to celebrate its 15th year. Meyer says that's because the city of Covington has been a longtime sponsor of the event which has helped it remain a flagship celebration.

"[I've] had a number of youth tell me, and college students tell me over the years that Northern Kentucky Pride was their first Pride festival. And it was the first place where they really felt that they saw themselves reflected. That they saw that they could be happy adults who are out and loving their authentic selves," Meyer said.

Due to its longevity, Meyer believes Northern Kentucky is beginning to inspire other smaller towns in the region to start their own Pride events. Just down the river, the City of Augusta is preparing to host its Pride in Park event for the second time on June 15.

Back in Ohio, other smaller communities like Madeira, Middletown, Hillsboro, and Lebanon are gearing up to host their own events to complement the much larger Cincinnati Pride festivities, set for June 22.

Lebanon will host its first-ever Pride festival this July. Organizer James Reynolds, who grew up in Lebanon, says getting the event up and running in the Cincinnati suburb was a challenge because it faced some opposition from some in the community. Despite those challenges, Reynolds is aiming to set up the Pride festival for long-term success by building strong bonds with local businesses and organizations that have shown support.

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Reynolds says the pushback he's seen is why he's holding the event. He wants Lebanon Pride to show the community's youth they can be accepted for being themselves, even if it feels like they have no support at home.

"There are many reasons why people don't know that in Lebanon you may be looked at funny; in Lebanon they may still say and do things that have animosity," Reynolds said. "Those people also need to know that the rest of the world isn't necessarily the same way."

Though it's nearly two months away, Lebanon Pride is helping build support and funds now with a Drag Show fundraiser Friday at Old Street Saloon in Monroe.

Upcoming local Pride events

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.