Toledo Pride: Coming out for the community

. August 17, 2017.
Sam Hamer-Light, Veronica Cook, Lydia Napier, Pyper Keller, and Morgan Wilson celebrate pride during last year’s festival. 
Photo Credit: Christine Senack, Girl in the Glass City
Sam Hamer-Light, Veronica Cook, Lydia Napier, Pyper Keller, and Morgan Wilson celebrate pride during last year’s festival. Photo Credit: Christine Senack, Girl in the Glass City

We know, the month of Pride is June— but pride doesn’t expire. Toledo dedicates one lively weekend in August to focus on celebrating the LGBTQ+ community during Toledo Pride. Lexi Hayman-Staples, executive director of Toledo Pride, chose the late-summer weekend to not compete with other major cities’ already-established June Pride celebrations. Since the inaugural Toledo Pride in 2010, that first crowd of 2,500 people has grown to almost 20,000 attendees— all coming together to celebrate unity, tolerance, acceptance and equality.

From Friday, August 18 to Sunday, August 20, help honor the LGBTQ+ community’s struggles, and celebrate their successes, during the 419’s most colorful weekend. Join friends and neighbors for a weekend full of amazing drag performances and non-stop dancing to demonstrate one of the best tools we have in the fight for equality: unity.

Friday, August 18
0.5K Nite Glow Fun Run
The Love Wall (1209 Adams St.)
Registration until August 17: $25 per person.
Day-of registration: $30 per person. Check-in begins at 5:30pm at The Love Wall.

5Ks aren’t for everyone— but this 0.5K is. At only 1604.4 feet, we think most able-bodied people can join in on the fun. Pile on your best neon, tie dye, rainbow-colored ensembles, tutus and glow sticks for a quick jaunt from The Love Wall to Levis Square. The first three to finish will win a prize, but those who are more interested in the fun than the run can compete for the best outfit.
For more information, contact the Nite Glow 5K coordinators, Angela Muñoz and Candace Payne at All registered walkers and runners will receive free admission to the You Will Do Better in Drag kick-off party.

Leyomie LaShae, Eclipse Galyxy and Olivia Diamond. Photo Credit: Christine Senack, Girl in the Glass City

Leyomie LaShae, Eclipse Galyxy and Olivia Diamond. Photo Credit: Christine Senack, Girl in the Glass City

Toledo Pride Kick-off Party:
“You Will Do Better In Drag”
Levis Square (Madison Ave. and
N. St. Clair St.) in downtown Toledo.
$5, or $3 with a non-perishable food item, socks, gloves or hygiene products.
All donations and proceeds will support Northwest Ohio Community Shares, a workplace-giving federation with a focus on social justice, health and human services, animal welfare, the arts and the environment.


Lexi Hayman-Staples and Lilian Ann Briggs. Photo Credit: Christine Senack, Girl in the Glass City

Friday’s Schedule:

5:50-6:15pm: DJ Mouse (DJ’s Drag Sets)
6:20-6:35pm: DRAG
6:35-6:55pm: Stone Pro
7-7:30pm: Staycee Carey
7:40-7:55pm: DRAG
8-8:25pm: Sam Tolson
8:30-8:50pm: DRAG
8:50-9:35pm: The Overton Project
featuring Carmen Miller
9:35-10pm: DJ Simplicity Drag
10pm: “KISS ‘N’ Drag” begins
10-10:10pm: First announcements and introductions
10:10-10:30pm: DRAG
Deja D. Dellataro, Selena T West, Emma Sapphire, Sabrina and Ember Holiday Monroe
10:30-11pm: Intermission w/ DJ Savanna
11-11:40pm: DRAG
Selena T West, Ember Holiday Monroe, Sabrina, Emma Sapphire, Deja D. Dellataro and Bitch, Thunder.
11:45pm: George, of Georgjz419 Fun Food & Spirits, and Zach, from Manhattan’s Pub ‘n Cheer

All events are subject to change without notice.

Saturday, August 19
Toledo Pride Parade
Noon-1pm. Adams Street. From 17th to St. Clair St. Free Last year, over 50 local businesses and organizations lined Adams Street to show support for the area’s LGBTQ+ community during Toledo’s most colorful parade. This year, wear your most colorful outfit and join thousands of other enthusiastic, supportive spectators along Adams Street to cheer on the community.

Toledo Pride Main Event
Levis Square (Madison Ave. and N. St. Clair St.) in downtown Toledo. FREE this year! You’ve gone on a long, arduous .5K run. You’ve stayed up late— dancing all night and watching some of the best drag performers in the area. You woke up early to excited cheers during the parade. Now, it’s time to relax and celebrate… Head to Levis Square for an all-day celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. Learn more about why pride matters by stopping at vendor booths, speaking to community organizations and meeting your neighbors. Dance and watch drag performances until midnight. If you still have the energy, we suggest heading to one of UpTown’s great gay bars, like Georgjz419 Fun Food & Spirits (1205 Adams St.) and Bretz Nightclub (2012 Adams St.) for the unofficial, but officially-awesome, after-parties.

Will Floss, Zach Mills, Hope Quinn and Michael Vine. Photo Credit: Christine Senack, Girl in the Glass City

Will Floss, Zach Mills, Hope Quinn and Michael Vine.
Photo Credit: Christine Senack, Girl in the Glass City

Saturday’s Schedule:

12:30-1pm: DJ 1-1:15pm: DRAG
1:15-1:45pm: Light Horizon
1:45-2:15pm: Angel Tipping
2:15-2:25pm: DRAG
2:25-3:15pm: Matt Truman Ego Trip
3:15-3:25pm: DRAG
3:25-4:10pm: Noisy Neighbors
4:10-4:20pm: DRAG
4:20-5:05pm: Kids with Knives
5:05-5:15pm: DRAG
5:15-6pm: Schmotel
6-6:15pm: DRAG
6:15-6:45pm: Alise King (National Act)
6:45-7pm: DRAG
7-7:30pm: Special Guest
7:30-7:45pm: DRAG
7:45-8:30pm: Flabongo Nation
8:30-9pm: Special Guest
9-10pm: DRAG
10-10:45pm: Arctic Claim/Ameila Airharts
10:45-11:30pm: DRAG All events are subject to change
without notice.

Sunday, August 20
Promise House Sunday Tea/Concert/Benefit Noon-10pm. Georgjz419 Fun Food & Spirits (1205 Adams St.) $3 suggested donation to the Promise House Project, which works to promote and advance the dignity and safety of all housing insecure and homeless youth, with a focus on the LGBTQ+ community.

The festival might “technically” be over, but pride never ends. The parking lot at Georgjz419 is primed and ready for all-day fun. Just remember— no parking on the dance floor. Schedule: 12:30-3:30pm: Kids With Knives 3:30-4pm: The Toledo Ballet Men’s Excelsior Troupe 4-10pm: DJ3PM

Coming Out: Toledoans Tell it like it is

Coming out stories can be gut-wrenching. We have uncovered some inspiring varieties. Some stories are funny. Some, so underwhelming it is a relief. Some are a trying moment for a person with unbounded courage.
While the LGBTQ+ community experiences more tolerance today, the fight isn’t over, and the act of coming out still takes courage.
We’re celebrating Toledo Pride 2017 with local stories and experiences.

Rick Cornett

Coming out in 1985 was fairly easy for me. My hardest years were high school, keeping it hidden from everyone. I regret not going to school dances because I didn’t feel I could ask a guy to go back then. Coming out to my family, friends and co-workers was the most liberating thing I have ever done for myself. I set myself free and was able to move forward to a happier life.

I’m very lucky that I have an accepting, loving and understanding family, many young people do not and it sets them up for a life of fear, rejection and unhappiness. I’ve always felt lucky to have been born when I was, because the gay rights movement was in full swing, and I was happy and proud to lend my support. I’ve always tried to help the youth just coming out and give them support and guidance. There is nothing worse than feeling you are the only one with no place to turn.

A great deal has changed for the better since I first came out 32 years ago. Less hate, more understanding and the right to legally marry the one you love. We still have a long way to go, but I feel we live in the best of times to be gay. I’m proud of the Toledo LGBT community and honored to lend my name to so many great causes. I created the LGBT Historical Archives of Toledo, and it is my mission to preserve the history and culture of our people.

Josh (Anonymous)

So I was 21 and very insecure about who I was. My straight roommate, my best friend from high school, was the only person who knew. He would leave pamphlets and Out magazines on my bed. I had no interest in coming out. But he always encouraged me to do so.

I was fearful of how my mom and siblings would react, since I heard my entire life how nasty homosexuals are. But I began to realize I needed to be me. I went to a bookstore after reading about them in one of my pamphlets. Met an amazing man there who finally convinced me to go to a bar with him. I was so taken by him, I agreed to meet him the next night. I didn’t know that a group of my sister’s coworkers were there. Those coworkers told my sister while my mom was dropping off lunch for her.

The next day, I got a phone call from my sister telling me not to go home. My mom had been in her room crying and cutting me out of our family photos. She told my sister to tell me I wasn’t her son anymore. My roommate went into the Navy, and I couldn’t afford the bills by myself, so I ended up living under a bridge. I was there for months and too ashamed to ask any remaining friends or family for help.

Fortunately, I began making friends in our community. They came together, gave me a place to live, a job, and the unconditional love and support I so desperately needed. Life finally started getting better.

Tyra Rosinski

We all fight battles, daily steps forward and back…mine wasn’t a battle but a cry for authenticity, a yearning to just be me, to wake up and not have to push aside my attraction to women. My desire to be myself in public and private finally grew courage, it made its way to the top… no looking back, no regrets, and here we go.

At 47, I had to come out to myself first, never having been with a woman or even kissed a woman, how did I know? You just do! Then I came out to my boyfriend, who by the way is still one of my best friends, then my son, other family and some close friends, over a period of a couple months. Just wanting to live, wanting to be open and feel, ok in the world, thinking “Ok big step now, just live… not so easy….” You find you have to come out again and again.

My son, daughter-in-law and grandkids are great with it. To them it is a non-issue, Gramma just likes to date women, they say. I am so very blessed, and I realize this is not the norm for a lot of people that come out. I think being older, and established helped create the sense of “This is my life and I will not cower in fear of ridicule and rejection by a patriarchal mostly heterosexual society.”

How do you find your people? Online forums for lesbians, and dating sites have women-looking for-women sections, and People Called Women bookstore is a place where women can get together and share resources, while feeling safe! The internet can be very instrumental in bringing lesbians together; just be careful and don’t lie, but don’t tell everything!


Veralucia Mendoza

I never came out. I was outed. “I think I’m gay,” I told my ex-husband. He didn’t see all the reasons we’re splitting, the arguments, the difference in priorities and values. He’s a good guy, but not a good partner to me and vice versa. After our separation, I met a lovely woman who accepted me with open arms. I thought I was bisexual— until I met her.

The level of connection and comfort I felt in her arms felt like coming home after searching for that home my entire life. There she was, gorgeous with her brown eyes, golden skin, with the biggest smile in the world.: “I think I’m gay.”

He couldn’t get over her either, in different ways. “She must have been the reason I left,” he insisted. “She’s changed you.”

No, I was already gay. I was gay when I had my first kiss with a girl when I was 5, and my next real one when I was 14. I thought I could fix myself, and I genuinely fell in love with my ex-husband, but when we didn’t fit, I decided to fully explore what it meant to love a woman.

Loving her meant passion, walks at night, my best friend and lover wrapped into one. It also meant a quiet, tearful night when my ex called my religious father. It meant feeling like the world was crashing around me, every building crumbling down as I stared off silently, immobile.

Tianna, my love, holds my hand. Her mother cries with me. My own mother won’t speak to me. My sister messages me constantly; she accepts me, and I realize I am loved more than I ever imagined. It’s two weeks before I hear from my parents. They still pray for me, asking God to change me. They don’t realize I wept to God in fits, scratching my own skin, begging to not be this– Queer, gay, ugly, sinful thing I had been told I was.

But He never fulfilled my request. Instead, I met her. Instead, He brought me out of my own fears, and into her arms.


  • Jamison Demech

    Where is the support for police, vets, ????????????????????