Erie Pride 2003

Erie Pride Weekend

"We had bigger speakers and more drag queens in Perry Square downtown, so people tended to stick around a little longer," Erie Pride organizer Abbey Atkinson said in an interview with the Gay People's Chronicle. "More businesses sponsored us this year, and more came out to the park and participated."

"The big thing, in my opinion," she continued, "was the march. Not only are we out of the closet, but have grown too large to be stuck on the sidewalk!"

Friday evening

The weekend began with the PFLAG OUTrageous Bingo on Friday, September 12. About 70 people attended, and drag queens participated including Rhiannon Angelina (above), Haley Alexander and Devon. A successful Kick- Off Party at the Village followed with drag performances by Rhiannon Angelina, Haley Alexander, Miss Connie, Taylor Morgan, and Angelica Redd.


The Pride March

On Saturday, the Pride March began at The Village. Chris Young of the League of Gay and Lesbian Voters addressed the crowd. The group of about 100 people marched down State Street, holding banners, rainbow flags, and signs, and shouting slogans like "What do we want?" "Equal Rights!" "When do we want 'em?" "Now!" It was a colorful and inspiring sight.

The 2002 March had gone down Peach Street, with marchers staying on the sidewalks. This year, the marchers traveled right on State Street, with police escorts.

Media that covered the March were Erie Times-News, WSEE TV 35 and WICU-TV 12. The Erie Times News article is here. The Cleveland Gay People's Chronicle had an article here.



The Rally in Perry Square drew about 200-300 people over the course of the event. This was about the same amount as last year. Speakers at the Pride Rally included PA Rep. Linda Bebko Jones (D-1st District), Erie Mayor Rick Fillipi, and David Greer, HIV/AIDS Advisory to the Bush Administration. Drag performers followed included Rhiannon Angelina (Miss Village 2003), Haley Alexander (Miss Great Lakes World 2003, Miss Louisiana National), Miss Connie, and Miss Angelica Red (Miss Erie 2003). Organizations with tables at the rally included ACLU, Green Party, NOW, Crime Victim Center, Erie Co. Health Dept, PFLAG, NW PA Trans Family, Identity, Trigon, LGLV, 3rd Sunday WOW and Erie Gay News. Businesses at the Rally included Aromas, Papermoon, Edie & Debbie, Ellenbee’s, Diverse Universe, DJ Julie, Angelic Pride and Blue Girl Tuesday. Amusement/rides included bounce house, bouncy boxing, and dunking booth.


Police respond quickly

Erie police responded quickly when Abbey Atkinson called to report a group of men who were drinking and making homophobic threats and remarks. Offending persons were moved to the east side of the park, away from the rally.


The Village had a “Rainbow Under the Sea” Kick Off Party on Friday with about 200 people attending. About the same number were at the Zone Saturday night for the Rainbow Pride Underwear Party.

Identity had a showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show Saturday night. About 57 people attended and interacted with the movie.

About 50 people showed up to watch or play Dykes vs. Drag Queens softball at Hagerty Field on Sunday. A slight drizzle didn’t seem to stop people from wanting to play. The Dykes won over the Drag Queens 19 to 15.

Following the game, there was a relaxing Tailgaters’ Brunch at The Village. Ellenbee’s set up in the game room, offering “rainbow gifts and cards.”

Bystanders’ reactions

The response from bystanders and people driving by was often supportive, with drivers honking horns and people waving. These ladies sitting by the PNC Bank smiled and waved to the marchers passing by.


Pride committee thanks...


Sponsors of the Pride Weekend included:

Trigon at Penn State Behrend, Erie County Health Department, The Village Supper Club, The Zone Dance Club, PFLAG of Erie/Crawford Counties, Palermo's Deli, Possibilities, Gary Maas & Gary's Flower Shoppe, Modern Adult News, and Erie Battery Alternator & Starters.

Volunteers included:

Gary Maas, Scott King, Michael Lecker, Leslie Clifton, Danielle Stahlbaum, Carrie Rodgers, The Hibbs Family, Mike Watterson, Judy, Trigon members and many more.

Donors of goods used in the Chinese Auction included:

KFC, Arby's, Bruster's Ice Cream, Circuit City Foundation, Scott Enterprises-Splash Lagoon, Veronica's Day Spa, Blue Heron Inn, Healing Touch Massage, Roadhouse Theatre, Larese Floral Design, Pie in the Sky, Whole Foods Co-op, AOL/Time Warner, Sara's Ice Cream, Tobacccoland, Buzz n B's, Buddha's Body Art, JR's Last Laugh, Cinemark - Millcreek 6, Cinemark, Tinseltown, Pride Connection, Bath & Body Works, Holiday Hair, Philip James Hair Studio, Petsmart, Dave Hallman Ford and Salon NRG.

How did you feel?

This was the first time that a Pride march moved down State Street in Erie. We asked participants who are on the Erie GLBT email list:


How did it feel to be part of a Pride March going down State Street in Erie, Pennsylvania?


I marched Saturday and it was with the most awesome feeling of pride and complete happiness! I felt like I had come home and was with my family. NattyK


I think that the march on State Street was a big step forward for Erie GLBT organizations. I felt a sense of accomplishment and pride; it sent a meaningful message to the rest of the Erie community that GLBT issues need to be addressed—Thank you for all that participated and helped make the weekend a success! Carrie Rodgers


I'd like to think that letting us march in the street means that we finally have credibility as a group. Once you have credibility, more people will listen. When more people listen, more people begin to understand you. When more people understand where you are coming from, less people are afraid of you......anyhow, you get my drift! I think letting us march in the street was a significant step forward! I'm glad Janice and I were able to participate! Laurie Finch


At first I was a bit nervous, not knowing what to expect, but the "family" atmosphere soon took over and I felt pride in walking with my gay brothers and sisters to affirm our dignity and worth. Marshall Snyder


I thought it was awesome that we marched down State St. There was not a whole lot of people that got to see that we are fighting for the same things that they have, but that we are willing to do what it takes to get those same rights. Janice Hanusik


This was my first ever pride march and rally. It was satisfying in a spiritually (having that ubiquitous sense of camaraderie in knowing I was with GLBT persons like myself and their supporters), emotionally (feeling empowered and united, as well as safe, with an escort of Erie's Finest), and physically. (In terms of getting my jogging in, keeping up with Roving Reporter Deb Spilko, as she trotted dutifully to get prime pics of the marchers.)

Seriously, it was a great time and I look forward to doing it again. Jonathan


A quote from the past

" Someday I would like to see a gay pride parade in Erie. Wouldn't that be nice?" Dee Dee Foll, Erie Gay News, Spring 1993


Also view photos here.

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