In 2020, the Toledo Pride celebration was forced to adapt. Rather than a traditional, sprawling event with parades, vendors and more, the annual celebration of the area’s LGBTQIA+ community was limited in scope. Instead, Pride was celebrated with two smaller events— Pride on the Inside, a simulcast event shown at three local restaurants in August, and Pride at the Drive-In, a screening of two movies at the Sundance Kid in September.
Pride planned to be back in full form this year, but…not quite yet. Scheduling and logistics conspired to keep Toledo’s Pride celebration still relatively subdued for 2021. “Pride takes us, typically, about a year to plan,” said Lexi Hayman-Staples, executive director of Toledo Pride. “So when the restrictions were lifted in June, we had little time to get everything together. Because we’ve got more than 100 vendors, food trucks, testing stations (and many other details). So it’s hard to coordinate all that.”
“We are 100% on a volunteer basis, not a single person gets paid on our committee. So I’m working a full-time job, Lexi’s working her job, everyone has their job that they’re working,” said Chad Turner, Toledo Pride’s marketing coordinator. “We all do this in our free time, after our day jobs.”
Live @ the Park
Toledo Pride’s 2021 edition will still be bigger than last year’s events. Billed as Pride Live @ the Park, the event will take place at Promenade Park at 400 Water St. on Saturday, August 21 with live entertainment, drinks and food available.
With strict attendance limits in place, the day’s events will be divided into three separate sessions— beginning at noon, 3pm and 6pm. Each session of an hour and 45 minutes will accommodate 500 attendees. Free HIV testing and COVID vaccines will be available at the event.
Session tickets at $5 each are sold in pairs— though free tickets are available through the Toledo Pride website. “Because people are donating $5 to the cause, everyone who walks in will get some swag. Everyone will get swag,’ Hayman-Staples said.
Turner explains “We have to make sure that we are filling the chairs that we sold. We can’t have 450 chairs and only fill 300. There are a lot of moving parts. It’s not as easy as just a ‘Hey, we’re going to have a party in the park!’
Brunch and movies
The day after Live @ the Park, Sunday August 22, the Big Rainbow Brunch Crawl, on Adams Street from 2-5pm with admission for a $5 wristband, will allow participants to enjoy food at a number of participating bars. A kids’ area will be set up at the corner of Adams and 14th St.
“Pride at the Drive-In” proved to be such a hit last year that the movie night will continue September 9 at Oregon’s Sundance Drive In. Hayman-Staples explains that this new tradition is an example of the kind of opportunities created by adapting for the pandemic last year. “We would have never thought to do a Drive-In event, had it not been for COVID. That Drive-In event is something that we plan to do annually now, because it was so much fun.”
A spirit of inclusiveness lies at the heart of Toledo Pride. A main goal is to provide LGBTQ+ community members with visibility and a sense of family. “Last year was really tough on a lot of people, just not being able to get out, and see people they know,” said Turner. “That was one of our main focuses was to still try and do something— even though it was a pre-recorded show. We tried to let people know, ‘we’re here.’”
“We’re really striving to make this year’s event one that feels safe for people who may have not been able to get out — for people who are immunocompromised. We’re trying to make this event for everybody,” said Hayman-Staples.
For more information or for tickets, visit toledopride.com.