The 28th annual Cleveland Pride parade has been cancelled amid planning issues, according to the head of Cleveland Pride Inc.
“We have been entrusted by our community to create a secure parade and festival environment for our LGBTQ brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, friends and allies,” Cleveland Pride CEO and President Todd J. Saporito said in a statement posted on Cleveland Pride’s Facebook page. “Because of the changing social climate, Cleveland Pride did not have enough time to engage in the development of awareness programs and training that we believe is critical in today’s environment.”
The event was scheduled for Aug. 13. Over 1,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Saporito's resignation, saying the cancellation "shows his lack of leadership."
In 2015, the celebration had to be rescheduled from June to August because of inclement weather. The rescheduled event saw a near record number of attendees.
In a separate statement, the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland’s president Phyllis Harris expressed her disappointment but said it was “ultimately not The Center’s decision to make.”
“We are deeply disappointed in the absence of the Cleveland Pride celebration this year,” Harris said. “From the tragedy of the Pulse nightclub shooting to the historic passage of a trans nondiscrimination ordinance here in Cleveland to the on-going fight for full LGBTQ rights across the country, this is a time when we desperately need an opportunity to be together and to be visible.”
Officials from both Cleveland Pride and the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland are encouraging people to attend alternate events that are planned around the celebration week. The Center's website has a listing of LGBT visibility events scheduled during the week of Aug. 5-14.
One of those events listed on The Center's website includes an interfaith unity rally on Aug. 7 at Old Stone Church in Public Square. The event is being hosted by The Center and is intended to provide a safe space for LGBT individuals and allies in light of recent violence against the community.
One event not yet listed on The Center’s website is a beach pride celebration held at Edgewater Park on Aug. 13. At press time, the event had over 500 people listed as "going" and over 1,600 people listed as "interested" in the event.
"The cancelation [sic] of Cleveland Pride 2016 does not cancel out the pride we all feel as LGBT Clevelanders," Harris said in The Center's statement. "We are a community of individuals to be celebrated, to be honored and to be seen, not just on one day, but every day of the year."
Cleveland Pride, Inc. has organized the LGBT pride parade and celebration since 1989. This year will be the first year it will not be holding the official event.