Toledo Pride 2023 brought the community together to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in our area. Those who attended were met with parades, dancing, performances and great food and drinks to enhance the celebration. However, attendees also went all out with their outfits to really show off their individuality and self-pride.
Reason for attending: Host at Manhattan’s, part of the Brunch Crawl
Look roundup: Rainbow bandana, funky sunglasses, eyeshadow in bisexual colors, rhinestone embellishments
Why are you working today? I haven’t worked for a full year here yet and I usually work Sundays anyway, but Pride is a really important thing to me as someone who is part of the queer community.
What inspired your makeup look? The makeup look is what I did for Pride back in June for other celebrations with friends. I love putting little rhinestones on. The bandana I just got at Target and love it.
Why should people come support Pride? It’s very important for people to be able to express themselves and be in an accepting community. We don’t do much in actual Pride Month in Toledo, so it’s important we do it later in the year. The whole community comes together and it’s really cool.
Crystal Scott & Chrissy Burk
Reason for attending: First time to the Brunch Crawl, came out for a great time.
How do you know each other? We’re sisters.
Crystal’s outfit walkthrough: Blue and purple in my shoes for pride, red is my favorite color and I wanted the boldness of the outfit for my top. The socks (reading “gay” in capital letters”) are obvious. For the necklaces, butterflies are my favorite and the “Queen” is obvious.
Chrissy’s outfit walkthrough: Rainbow for the flag and supporting everyone in the community, but I have the bisexual pride flag individually for my top because I’m bi, so I wanted to make sure that stood out. Of course, we have the matching socks. I just wanted to be a walking pride flag for everyone and myself.
Why are the flags important? I’ve met so many people that aren’t in the community who don’t know that everyone has their own flag. I think it’s perfect because it makes people feel comfortable to be themselves and individualizes them. It also makes people research and see their own flag or their friends’ flags and then they can recognize it out in public.
Would you recommend going to Pride? This has been an awesome experience. Definitely do it. Even if you go alone you will feel so safe.
Reason for attending: I love love and Toledo loves love. I came to support my community; I love being out with my community and my friends.
JoDee’s outfit walkthrough: Multicolored, whimsical palazzo pants paired with chunky orange flip flops, a red diamond cut crop top and silver hoop earrings. I didn’t put any thought into it. The clothes are from a thrift shop in San Francisco and these are the comfiest pants in the world. My shoes are from ASOS.
Why did you dress up for Pride? I hate that it has to be an event for different outfits because this is how I dress every day. My work tells me I’m “loud.” I love coming to Pride and seeing people’s individuality and more diverse fashion in those events. I think it makes people more comfortable to be who they are and gives them a day to wear stuff they wouldn’t every other day. It gives them a safe space.
Reason for attending: I was asked to volunteer and I volunteer for all kinds of different things.
Gary’s outfit walkthrough: Green shorts, “Love is Love” t-shirt in rainbow letters, blue glasses and orange hair.
Why is Toledo Pride important for our area? It’s all inclusive. Love is love. Accept yourself – you have to start there for the love and it spreads.
Did you color your hair for Pride? My hair last summer was bright blue, then I did teal for ovarian cancer and autism, and then hot fuchsia pink for cancer. Then my
friend got me to do orange, and I kept it for Pride.
What do you hope to accomplish by volunteering today? To get the awareness out that diversity is where we all come from.
Ivory S. Foster
Reason for attending: Emceeing Ottawa Tavern’s Broadway Brunch Show.
Tell me about your name: My name is Ivory S. Foster. Ivory is my skin tone, it was the Mary Kay foundation that I used to practice drag. Foster comes from the Broadway legend, Sutton Foster.
How did this show come about? This show comes from a love of musical theatre and wanting to provide a space where people could be paid their worth in our community, because as drag artists we do work really, really hard to make sure that we are put together to our best abilities, and I thought, “What a perfect way to marry the two together.”
Ivory’s outfit walkthrough: Today, our theme for the show is Broadway Pride, and my Pride comes from all the musicals where apparently the main characters are green. So “Wicked,” “Shrek” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” Green characters are truly where I pull a lot of inspiration from. Today took me about two and a half hours to do. The black, sparkly dress is thrifted from House of Dow, and it is embellished by my beautiful partner, Kalawika Navarro. The jewelry was also made by my partner, and the wig was styled by myself. The green face and other makeup elements were also styled by myself.
What Ivory wants to share with the readers: Never be afraid to be who you are.
Reason for attending: Playing piano at Ottawa Tavern’s Drag Show.
Neil’s outfit walkthrough: Jean shorts, known affectionately as “jorts,” with a rainbow tie dye Pride shirt.
Why is Pride important to you? There’s been a lot of shame from different voices in the country trying to bring queer people down and I think it’s important for us to be even louder, even brighter and even more loving.
How did you get involved in the show today? Ivory and I have worked together in the past and they wanted to incorporate live music in the performance and asked if I wanted to play a supporting role.
What does it mean to you to be playing at this event? I like to use my talents in a way that gives back, so this is another fun way to celebrate pride and really come together as a community. It makes me really proud to be a part of something like this.
Paula Caldwell, Emily MacFarlane, Milena Mrdjenovic & Anne Rodriguez
Reason for attending: Emily’s birthday, and for Pride in general because we are all queer or allies. It’s just fun and everyone is supportive and happy and it’s good vibes.
Paula’s outfit walkthrough: I just wanted to be pretty. I’m not even wearing something rainbow other than my toenails. However, I went to a drive thru and ordered coffee and the guy asked if I was coming from or going to Pride, so it feels right. I’m representing the bi community, and went heavier on the accessories than outfit choices.
Tell me about your accessories: A flower crown and face glitter were the focus. It’s wanting to feel good about myself for a day and have a good time. We have very serious jobs so it’s nice to be out.
Emily’s outfit walkthrough: Jean shorts and a rainbow shirt that reads, “Sounds gay, I’m in.” I found this on Amazon because it’s something I would say. A sparkly sash that reads, “Birthday Queen.” Anne bought me the sash so everyone would know it’s my special day.
Milena’s outfit walkthrough: White Air Force 1s, a royal blue tight dress and miscellaneous Pride pins. I wanted to dress for the weather, wear some big colors and feel confident in my body. At Pride you can do that. I normally wouldn’t wear this, but here everyone loves you for who you are.
What is it like for you to be dressed how you want? It feels freeing. You normally feel like you wouldn’t wear these clothes but here it’s fun and you’re not worried about people looking at you weird.
Anne’s outfit walkthrough: Jeans and a white tank top that reads “I like my men like I like my women” because it’s punny. I also wore converse that are customized with bi flag colors and with rainbow embellishments because I’m bisexual.
Reason for attending: Just supporting everyone and supporting love and togetherness and rainbows and butterflies
Gaby’s outfit walkthrough: Flag fashion. A rainbow headband, rainbow wristbands, a rainbow flag tied into a cape, black tank top with a rainbow heart, black shorts, glitter fishnet tights, black rainbow socks and chunky heels. A peace sign face tattoo and green and yellow eye shadow.
I love happiness and wanted to do something that made me smile and made others smile, so I went with the rainbow. Most of the pieces are from Amazon. I came up with the makeup. I wanted to make others smile so I wanted to do glitter with a lot of color and put different looks together.
Why do you think flag fashion is such a trend for Pride? I think the rainbow flag represents everyone. It doesn’t single out any community but represents everyone who wants to feel the love and feel colorful and happy. I wanted to dress in something that would make everyone happy, and you can’t be mad looking at a rainbow, you know?
What’s something you want to tell everyone about Pride? Drag is not crime. Being able to express ourselves no matter what we are or who we love, it doesn’t matter. It’s your own thing. Everyone should celebrate love and always be loving toward any human. We should just love each other.
Elyse Balduff, Darius Valdez & Gianna Pancone
Reason for attending: We went to high school and/or college together. It’s Elyse’s first Pride.
Elyse’s outfit walkthrough: Inspired by Pride Barbie. Pink bandana, pink crop top, bead necklaces, white skirt, Converse, heart shaped sunglasses and a black fanny pack. I got it all from Target and Dollar Tree.
What does Pride mean to you? Life is too short to not feel comfortable in your own body and yourself. So embrace yourself and who you are.
Darius’ outfit walkthrough: I’m a wicked character of Instagram shops, maroon shorts from Bare Bottoms, for a little above the knee action, white and blue shirt from Shein, ring from Shein with engraving inside that says “I love you,” which I bought for myself because you have to love yourself first. Pride peace sign socks are from Zumiez and shoes are Nike.
What does Pride mean to you? We’ve spent the last few generations fighting for finding the one person for you, when we forgot how important it is to find a community. Find a group of people who will support you from the moment you start to the moment you end.
Gianna’s outfit walkthrough: White pirate puffy top from Shein and blue flared jeans from Shein.
What does Pride mean to you? You need to put yourself out there because times are changing and we aren’t in the 1900s anymore. You need to be yourself because you’re beautiful. Flaunt that. Love your life.
Check out some of our TikTok Pride coverage, below: