Wednesday, December 7

A Tale of Two Ohio Pride Month Declarations: One Quiet. One Messy. Both Passed.

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Two different Ohio cities on opposite sides of the state passed declarations recognizing Pride Month on Tuesday, but did so in markedly different ways.

In Munroe Falls, the mayor and city council passed what is believed to be the first Pride proclamation in the city’s history. The resolution not only proclaimed the month of June 2022 as LGBTQ Pride Month, but also challenged residents of this Akron suburb to take action:

We encourage all community residents to eliminate prejudice wherever it exists and to celebrate our great diversity by taking part in community events throughout June which focus on and celebrate our LGBTQ neighbors.

The proposal was originally suggested by out councilmember Ross Widenor who said he wanted the city to signal to residents that Munroe Falls is an inclusive community where individuals could be their authentic selves.

“If anybody in the city does not feel that this is the case for whatever reason, I want this [proclamation]  to be an opportunity for them to raise that issue so that we can address it,” Widenor said.

With no objections, the proclamation was approved for Munroe Falls.

Declaring June as Pride Month has not been quite so smooth sailing in Cheviot.

The past month has seen a flurry of activity in this west-central Hamilton County city, less than 10 miles northwest of Cincinnati.

City Councilmember Stefanie Hawk brought forward language in May, which was assigned to be heard by the city’s Internal/External Affairs Committee.

Before the resolution could be heard, Councilmember Brian Smyth took to Nextdoor — a hyperlocal social networking app for neighborhoods — to post a “call to action,” declaring that if the Pride Month proclamation were approved “there will be half naked debauchery led parades in the streets as well as replacing the American flag with the rainbow flag.” He also called Pride Month “part of the grooming process for our families and children” and that “it has to stop.”

The Internal/External Affairs Committee passed the resolution on May 24 with Smyth as the only no vote.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Smyth attempted to table the resolution indefinitely, but that motion failed. Multiple community members provided public comments at the meeting to denounce Smyth’s previous statements against the LGBTQ+ community.

Ultimately, the declaration declaring June as Pride Month in Cheviot passed by a vote of 5-1, with Smyth as the lone voice against.

City Council President Kerry Smyth — Brian’s cousin — had previous signaled his opposition to Pride Month, but he was not present at Tuesday’s meeting.

Brian Smyth took to Facebook after the meeting with another homophobic and transphobic tirade, including:

  • “Police have been called to many establishments in order to remove children from the presence of drag queen shows.”
  • “Every pride parade around the country displays drag shows of half naked men and promoting sexual acts which is totally inappropriate for children.”
  • “It would absolutely be wrong if we on council promoted an ideology that is against the basic Christian moral values. the term ‘Pride’ is number one of the 7 deadly sins and it is the cause of all the others.”

Councilmember Hawk struck a different tone, noting how the Cheviot community had rallied together to support a Pride Month resolution, including the proliferation of “We ❤️ Cheviot” yard signs with a rainbow heart.

“I am so proud of my city and how they really showed up for this,” Hawk said. 🔥

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About Author

Ken Schneck is the Editor of The Buckeye Flame. He received the 2021 Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for the LGBTQ Journalist of the Year from the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. He is the author of "Seriously, What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew" (2017), "LGBTQ Cleveland" (2018), "LGBTQ Columbus" (2019), and "LGBTQ Cincinnati" (2020). In his spare time, he is a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University.

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