Since it was painted in 2012, The Love Wall has been a popular stop on Adams Street. The unapologetic, technicolor mural, designed by Mr. Taylor and the artist who goes by Mede, beckons pub crawlers, art walkers, and first-time Toledo visitors to marvel— and, of course, to grab a few photos for social media.
The wall also boasts a progressive motto— Toledo Loves Love— making it a landmark of the LGBTQ+ community. Immediately after marriage equality was made a national reality exactly one year ago on June 27, 2015, the colorful mural became a popular backdrop for wedding and engagement photos for both gay and straight couples.
Putting the “Fun” in fundraiser
Despite its landmark status, The Love Wall has never seen a festival in its honor, yet. The first Love Wall Festival will soon be held, thanks to Equality Toledo, a local group fighting discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.
This year’s festival was inspired by Equality Toledo’s desire to hold an event less serious than typical. Considering the organization’s most recent event— a quickly organized and well attended candlelight vigil held for the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub tragedy on June 12 of this year— their longtime plans for the Equality Toledo Loves Love Fest are well founded.
“We’re always looking for ways to engage the community, and we wanted to have a lighthearted event,” explains Nick Komives, executive director of Equality Toledo, adding that, “Most of our events tend to be very heavy, educational.”
Although it is primarily a fundraiser, Komives insists that the emphasis is on “providing a space for people to have fun.” The night’s entertainment lineup is stacked with DJs, local theater groups, and drag performers. While free and open to the public, there is a suggested donation of $5, which will benefit Equality Toledo’s local fight against prejudice.
Equality still a priority
Equality Toledo was established in 2004 as a reaction to Ohio’s controversial Definition of Marriage Amendment. Although this original fight was resolved last summer, recent events underscore the unfortunate reality that a victorious Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality is only one hurdle in the longer race to end prejudice against the LGBT community. From bathroom laws in North Carolina to the recent massacre in Florida, hatred and intolerance hasn’t exactly fallen off the radar.
Equality Toledo’s current efforts focus on cutting prejudice at the root, tackling the harmful practices of bullying and conversion therapy, as well as discrimination in areas of employment and housing.
“Toledo already has some nondiscrimination protections in place, but most of the LGBT citizens are not covered under those protections,” says Komives.
Although Pride weekend doesn’t hit Toledo until the end of summer (Friday, August 26), Equality Toledo Loves Loves Fest is yet another opportunity to celebrate our LGTBQ+ community. If you can’t make it out for the festival, Equality Toledo accepts donations on their website, as well as at their mixers and activist meetings.