Erie Pride 2005 March & Rally

Erie Gay Pride March and Rally Celebrates Erie's Gay Communities

On Saturday, October 15, 2005, the Gay Male/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender and Allied communities of Erie County came together to celebrate the successes of the past year and the challenges of the upcoming year. Fall pride events have been held most years since 1998, and picnics have been held since 1992. The organizer this year was Dan Burdick, a faculty member in the music department at Edinboro University. The March included 60-75 people representing such diverse groups as PFLAG, Allegheny College, Penn State - Behrend, Edinboro University, the Erie County Health Department, and many others. Erie City Police led the March down State Street from the Zone to Perry Square. The crowd at Perry Square for the rally was estimated at 125 people. The Rally opened with moving comments by event co-sponsor and organizer, Patty Puline of the Erie County Department of Health about Jeff Grego, LGBT community leader who was recently killed in a plane crash. The keynote was given by Lee Edmondson - co-owner of Trance. Lee focused on speaking about positive changes that have happened in Erie in the last 40 years and gave specific examples of how to move forward. Other speakers included event organizer Michael Mahler - co-organizer of the rally and co-editor of the Erie Gay News, Zach - the first openly gay Homecoming candidate at Edinboro University, Kate Ebersole, CPCC, LCSW, of Authentic Lives Coaching, and Mark - the President of PFLAG. Two other featured speakers were Joy Greco - Republican member of the Erie County Council who is also running for Millcreek Supervisor. She spoke about how the County Council has supported the civil rights of all the citizens in the county. She has been instrumental in the changes enacted by the County Council. Brava to Joy! Another featured speaker was Joe Giles(D), Chair of the Erie County Council. He spoke about how the County Council has put into place budgetary and administrative details to make the Human Rights Commission possible. Again, great work by Joe and the Council! Also speaking was Kahan Sablo, Dean of Students at Edinboro University of PA (EUP) who read a supportive letter from EUP President Frank G Pogue

Entertainment was beautifully provided by Bob Bearfield, singer/songwriter from Erie, who performed a great set! [www.bobbearfield.com] Special guest from Colorado and West Virginia was Judith Avers, a singer/songwriter. [www.judithavers.com] She was also terrific and received enthusiastically by the crowd. Drag King T. J. Knight provided a great number between the singers and worked the crowd of happy women! The Rally ended with a special performance by Stephanie Callahan of the Jen Foster Group.

Photos and an article speaking positively about the event appeared on the front page of the next day's edition of Erie Times News. The local paper included photos showing the diversity of the event participants. Several people used their full names. Local NBC affiliate WICU-TV 12 also had coverage.

We also took a Family Portrait. The first Family Portrait was taken in October 1995 on the steps of the Erie County Courthouse. Previous photos and more info is available at www.eriegaynews.com. Erie Gay News also continued the tradition of taking face photos of community members who wanted to have their faces and photos at www.eriegaynews.com on the Friends and Supporters page. About 25 people took new or updated face photos.

The next Erie Pride event will be the 14th annual Pride Picnic on Saturday, June 10 at the Rotary Pavilion at Presque Isle. Planning is also expected to get underway in early November for next year's Fall Pride event. Info about past and future Pride events can be seen at http://www.nwpapride.org. One can also register for Pride events at that location.

Special thanks to the event sponsors - the Erie County Department of Health and Identity, Edinboro University's organization for lesbian, gay male, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and ally students. Special thanks also to the event co-organizers - Patty Puline, HIV/AIDS Education Coordinator at the ECDH, and Michael Mahler, co-editor of the Erie Gay News. Special thanks also to all the speakers and entertainers with a special thanks to Lee Edmondson, co-owner of Trance. Finally, special thanks to Bob Regan, owner of the Zone, for providing food and beverages at the start of the march. See you all at next year's event!

by Dan Burdick and Mike Mahler

Photos

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