Monday, November 3, 2014

Cleveland's LGBT Community Has Momentum

Luz Pellot, Co-Chair of Gay Games 9 Party and Social Events Committees, poses in front of "Hands Across the Community," a mural sponsored by Graffiti Heart and composed of handprints of those who participated in the Games.

When 8,000 Gay Games participants came from all over the world to Cleveland in August, more than 1,300 participants from Northeast Ohio joined them. The city welcomed them with open arms and pride flags waving.

For Cleveland's LGBT community, 2014 has been a year of growth and change. This year, the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland has helped more than 530 people per month, nearly double its average from 2013.

To keep this momentum going, the LGBT Center hosted an event in the Gordon Square Arcade last night to showcase its programs and advocate for change.

With Gay Games memorabilia lining the halls of the arcade and DJ Zoe Lapin keeping the party going in the atrium, visitors mingled upstairs, Below, in the Center's space, people recorded and archived stories about how Cleveland has changed for them in the wake of the Games.

"The energy was palpable after the Gay Games," said the Center's communications coordinator, Ryan Zymler. "The queer community in Cleveland saw what it was like to have a queer-friendly city during the Gay Games. That energy is translating into wanting to make that a permanent place, as opposed to the seven days of queer paradise that we had."

During the event, activists gathered signatures to send to Cleveland City Council in support of new LGBT civil-rights measures. The activists are calling for legislation that would offer more thorough protections for gender identity and expression in the workplace, eliminate the cost difference between same-sex and opposite-sex couples in city employees' benefits, and extend non-discrimination protections to include the trans community's right to use restrooms.

Seven Strikes: Cleveland's Women's Softball Team and Silver Medal Winners: Lindsay Kimora, Kristin Kozel, Kristi Andrasik, Phyllis 'Seven' Harris, Lisa Hopps, Deidre McPherson, Jessica Lancaster, Ali Brawner, and Carey Gibbons. Photo Credit: Rachel Kalayjian
Michael and Colleen Sliwinski, Alana Jochum, Deanna Bouchahine, Nick Komives, Maggie Stark, Michelle Tomallo and Mary Zaller. Photo Credit: Rachel Kalayjian

Gail Adoseofg captures Nicole Thomas of Equality Ohio on camera for the One Word Forward photo-installation to show how Cleveland got better post-GG9.

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