For LGBT people across the United States, Pride celebrations serve as a chance for us to celebrate our sexuality. But for the LGBT community in Cleveland, they won’t have a chance to take part in their annual festivities. Cleveland Pride has been canceled. And the local community is furious.
On Thursday, Cleveland Pride President and CEO Todd J Saporito released a vague announcement about the cancellation. In the statement, Saporito said, “Because of the changing social climate, Cleveland Pride did not have enough time to engage in the development of awareness programs and training that we
believe is critical in today’s environment”. It isn’t really clear what that statement means, but it sounds like there’s a security concern. If so, there are plenty of recent incidents that support Cleveland’s ability to battle any security threat.
The city just hosted the Republican National Convention last week. The local police department was able to assemble thousands of police officers to keep the peace. With almost 20,000 people in attendance at the 4-day event and more than 15,000 protestors throughout the week, this was probably the most significant security threat the city has ever faced. There’s no way that Cleveland Pride would’ve been as significant a security challenge as the RNC.
Furthermore, Cleveland was able to pull off a secure public celebration for the Cavaliers with just 48 hours’ notice and over a million people in attendance.
If security is a concern, it isn’t stopping this weekend’s city-wide celebration. The Cleveland 2016 Host Committee is hosting a free event in the city’s Public Square as a thank you for hosting the RNC. Not to mention, several Pride celebrations have gone on without issue in the wake of the Orlando massacre.
But perhaps what’s most upsetting is how the Cleveland Pride cancellation follows a historic advancement for local LGBT people. On July 22, Mayor Frank Jackson signed an amendment that protects the rights of transgender people when it comes to using restrooms and public facilities in accordance with their gender identities. While there’s always plenty to celebrate at Pride, this year’s events would have been especially exciting given Cleveland’s latest development.
The lack of clarity around the cancellation has left many perplexed and disappointed. But some members of the local community have been moved to action. At ipetitions.com, a petition calling for the resignation of Saporito has been launched. To date, the petition has acquired 863 of the required 1,000 signatures. The petition reads that Saporito ‘s cancellation of the event is ‘inexcusable and shows his lack of leadership’.
Saporito has remained quiet other than his official statement. His Twitter account has remained dormant since July 24th.
It seems there’s more to this story than meets the eye. Time will surely reveal the truth, but in the meantime, the LGBT people of Cleveland will have to move forward without a celebration that they deserve. In an editorial for Huffington Post, radio host Ken Schneck shared how Cleveland Pride was the one day of the year where local gays could be their fully realized selves. Now that their day has been taken away, what will they do?