The famous Love Wall mural on 13th and Adams Streets, proclaims to all who visit: “Toledo Loves Love.” For the second summer in a row, the activists behind anti-defamation group Equality Toledo aim to prove it.
On Saturday, July 15, Equality Toledo’s second annual “Love Fest” event will take place at the Love Wall. Festivities will include a wide range of local entertainers, such as singers, DJs, drag performers, and more, in an effort to celebrate the wide range of talent throughout Toledo’s LGBTQ community. In addition, the event well as raise funds to help Equality’s ongoing efforts to battle discrimination. (A five dollar donation is suggested for those who attend.)
“Love Fest, first and foremost, is a celebration of all love in Toledo, without any barriers or boundaries. It is a music festival that is centered on providing a space to showcase LGBTQ talent in our area,” said Nick Komives, executive director of Equality Toledo. “We have live music performances, drag performances and entertainment. People can hear from community leaders and activists from the region. Plus, we have food trucks and beer— everybody loves food trucks and beer.”
The seed of the idea that bloomed into Love Fest first formed two years ago at an event celebrating Equality Toledo’s tenth anniversary. Local singer/songwriter Angel Tipping, who will also appear at Love Fest, performed that night. The response her set received inspired Komives and his fellow Equality Toledo members to come up with new ways to reach out to the community.
“We realized that people really want to come and hear live music. Then we started reaching out into our networks and realized— wow— there are a lot of really great, talented LGBT folks out there that are in various bands, or they have their own band. So, why not showcase them in front of the most meaningful mural for LGTBQ folks in Toledo?”
Indeed, the Love Wall has become iconic to the area’s LGBTQ community. Created in 2012 by artists Mr. Taylor and MEDE— before marriage equality was achieved— the wall’s message of hope made it a favorite for couples, with many choosing to take engagement photos in front of its rainbow of tolerance.
“We could not think of a better backdrop for our event than the Love Wall itself,” Komives said. “So we asked Art Corner Toledo if we could use it, and they said that’s exactly why they create art— so the community can enjoy it in different ways.”
The 2016 edition of Love Fest proved to be a smashing success— almost overwhelmingly so, Komives admitted. “To be honest, we really didn’t anticipate having such a large crowd last year, so it caught us off guard. Which is a wonderful surprise to have, of course. And so, this year we’re hoping that we’ve over-prepped.”
Overall, though, Komives said beyond raising money for a cause he has invested so much of his adult life into, he is hopeful that attendees come away feeling a renewed sense of optimism about the area and its people.
“We hope that when people come, they just see people from all different backgrounds embracing, being around and sharing a community with each other, and can leave feeling good about themselves and the city of Toledo.”
For more information about Love Fest and Equality Toledo, visit equalitytoledo.org.
4pm-midnight. Saturday, July 5.
A $5 donation is strongly recommended.
The Love Wall
1209 Adams St., 419-407-6225. facebook.com/equalitytoledo