The story of Cleveland Pride in photos

The view from the Rapid train approaching Voiovich park, where Cleveland Pride was held.

The view from the Rapid train approaching Voinovich park, where Cleveland Pride was held.

A bear pride flag flies high during the parade that traveled through the heart of downtown Cleveland.

A bear rainbow flag flies during the parade that traveled through the heart of downtown Cleveland.

Akashia from RuPaul's Drag Race gets down atop of a convertible during the parade.

Akashia from RuPaul's Drag Race gets down atop of a convertible during the parade.

Religious groups participated in the march, decked out in rainbows.

Religious groups participated in the march, decked out in rainbows.

This parade had two U-Hauls. How appropriate for a Pride parade.

This parade had two U-Hauls. How appropriate for a Pride parade.

My favorite float contained the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence of Cleveland.

My favorite float contained the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence of Cleveland.

Yet another U-Haul float.

Yet another U-Haul float.

One of the more popular participants touted 60 couples together for more than 775 years.

One of the more popular floats touted 60 couples together for more than 775 years.

The Cleveland Pride festival is huge, with two stages and several rows of booths.

The Cleveland Pride festival is huge, with two stages and several rows of booths.

Akashia brought Logo along for the Pride ride, and I met her as she walked through the crowds.

Akashia brought Logo along for the Pride ride, and I met her as she walked through the crowds.

A drag king performs during the Cleveland Kings and Girls set at Pride.

Cleveland Kings & Girls used a boom box to simulate changing radio stations when changing acts.

CKG isn't afraid to tap into country music during their performances, as this king did here.

CKG isn't afraid to tap into country music during their performances, as this king did here.

Performers brought out the chains for the final performance of the first CKG act.

Performers brought out the chains for the final act of the first CKG performance.

The performance stage also showcased burlesque performers and dance numbers.

The performance stage also showcased burlesque entertainers and dance numbers.

Members of Wasted Productions presented drag numbers for the audience.

Members of Wasted Productions presented drag numbers for the audience.

A 7-year-old earned the most tips during her performance of "I Kissed A Girl."

A 7-year-old earned the most tips during her performance of Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl."

The following is a video of this girl performing, but I highly recommend turning off the sound when listening to it as I was extremely close to the speaker when recording it.

A fierce queen brought out her best tights with the word "bitch" strewn across them.

A fierce queen brought out her best tights with the word "bitch" strewn across them.

Wasted Productions wowed the crowd again with their last number of their drag performances.

Wasted Productions wowed the crowd again with their last number of their drag performances.

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13 thoughts on “The story of Cleveland Pride in photos

  1. I have mixed feelings about this little girl performing drag. She seems to be enjoying herself, but was she pushed into it? Does she understand what is going on? I mean, she is seven…I don’t know…

  2. Thank you so much for posting this! Cleveland Pride rocked and I am glad someone else noticed and actually wrote an article about it.

    We actually have really good drag kings and queens, and Akasha is ridiculous, olo.

  3. I had mixed feelings about the 7 year old as well. Her mother was in the troop, and I suppose it is good to expose kids to queer culture and fucking with gender roles. But she sang the song “I Kissed a Girl” and that was my first hesitation. Maybe she saw the song as proving that girls kissing girls is okay, but the song is really shitty (and i really dont have to get into that- but its pretty invalidating of queer identities).
    And there she was dancing around in a sexy way (not that there’s anything wrong with sexuality even in children). Was she really learning anything about messing with gender roles. I felt more like through that song and the way she was dancing she was learning her societal gender role, of a girl there to be pretty, sexy, and please men.

    • First off, thanks to the OP for the great personalized coverage of Cleveland Pride…it really is an extraordinary event for all involved.

      I’m actually the mother of the 7 year old that was performing in the video and I’d like a chance to speak on her (and my) behalf in regards to her choice to perform that song and perform in general.

      Ashlee is only 7 years old, however she is by far one of the smartest children of that age you could meet. She’s fully aware of why she performs, why her mother performs and all the reasons behind it. I have never hidden my sexual identity from my daughter and have been completely candid with her about my reasons to perform. She understands what dressing in drag is – an opportunity for those who take part to help dispell the myths and stereotypes of gender roles.

      Ashlee chose the song that she wanted to perform at pride because it’s a song that she enjoys and that the crowd enjoys as well. First and foremost she wants to be entertaining. It is not her intention to appear “sexy” on stage or to appear older than what she is. I would NEVER condone her performing for those reasons. She gets up on stage to help promote queer youth and lift the under-represented within our community.

      I personally am not a big fan of the song either, I agree that it really does not shed a good light on “girl on girl love”. It is a very controversial song and has been since it became so popular. Unfortunately it almost became the “lesbian anthem” for a while with no one really questioning the lyrics and listening to them for what they were really saying.

      Ashlee intended for it to be a fun and entertaining performance though. For a 7 year old to get up there and perform in front of all those people is not easy at all. I commend her for being so brave and putting herself out there. EVERYTIME she performs it is completely her decision. I refuse to push my child into doing anything (besides cleaning her room and helping me with dishes of course).

      She’s a very talented, intelligent, amazing little girl (though I may be partial), and she simply wants to share her beliefs with the community that is home to her and her mother.

      • I find it very interesting that first off, the 7 year old is singing that song at pride, not to mention that she is walking around grabbing money out of peoples hands and returning it to you her mother. What a fine example of parenting you portray!
        There is nothing wrong with opening a child’s eyes to the gay/lesbian community but obviously the parent had a big role in having her perform at this venue. I’ve also noticed that you also have her perform at the Bar on some occasion.
        Now obviously most people would draw the line and not allow a child to come to a bar where there is alcohol, let alone a bar in general. I’m very surprised that their license hasn’t been taken away by allowing minors perform, let alone be at the venue at all, where drag kings/queens perform with pasties on to cover up their breasts. *Bravo* Good Parenting!
        I’m surprised the individuals who took pictures at pride did not scrutinzed the bar as well.
        Most parents protect their children, and try to direct them in the proper direction of what is right and wrong, not force feed a drag king lifestyle down their throat. I too belong to the gay community and have children as well, and it is there decision whether they choose to live in a hetersexual/homosexual lifestyle. They know that there is a difference, but they also look to their parents for guidance and obviously your daughter looks at you and the way you perform as her basis to act “sexy” as someone else previously stated. Obviously she knows what that word means considering you have stated that she knows the difference between genderbending and kissing a girl.

        I think all the responsibility falls on the mother or parent as she (the 7 year old) is only performing as her means of having fun, and the mother is obviously doing it for attention and drama, Way to go, good example that you have set…Keep up the good work!

  4. I am a performer who has had the chance to work with Miss Red. I have had the chance to interact with her and Ashlee. Miss Red’s comment is absolutley correct. Ashlee understands what it means to perform and to perform in drag. I have sat down with her and talked about it. She may be 7 but she could teach the rest of society something.

    As for the song choice, Ashlee is a very strong young girl and when she sets her mind towards something she does it. She chose the song and thats what she was doing. As for it being sexual, don’t make it seem like its all about that. I didn’t see anything provacitive and I saw the whole performance. She enjoys it and isn’t forced to. Some parents dress their toddlers up like grown woman and throw them on a stage to prance around. Red lets her daughter choose to perform or not. Tries to keep it as low key as possible and lets her daughter have fun. I hope that you all get a chance to see Ashlee perform again. Thanks

  5. I do think it is interesting that so much attention is given to this seven year old’s drag performance. Had this been some other sort of performance- in a play, a little skit, dance class, fashion show, beauty pageant, it would have not gotten so much attention. I think the fact that this is queer related is why people are getting so upset, even tho the people who appear to be upset may be queer themselves- I think this reflects part of our culture’s insistence that queers can not properly parent. That idea has been so deeply ingrained in our heads that even the queers find themselves spewing that idea through mild homophobia of their own.

    The point that Timmy made about other parents allowing their children to perform in beauty pageants is an important one. I think little children performing in beauty pageants is much worse than Ashlee performing at Cleveland pride. Also at Cincinnati pride Jamie posted pictures and commented about the Lixgood Family (a cincinnati drag troupe) who had many of their children perform with them. https://stuffqueerpeopleneedtoknow.wordpress.com/2009/06/15/cincinnati-pride-day-2-phenomenal/ No one seems to be upset about those children’s performance.

    I am not sure what Erin was talking about with bars, where I saw Ashlee perform at Cleveland pride was outside, in a space that was family friendly. I think that Ashlee’s performance at pride was completely acceptable and positive. Erin commented about bars and drag shows being too risque for children because of the swearing, alcohol, and nudity. And that idea brings up a plethora of other societal tropes and problems about children’s need to be “saved” from society, sexuality, nudity, and their very own bodies, but we can save that discussion for another day.

    The only real concern that I had with Ashlees performance I have already stated and it lied in the song. I think that song is horrible, but Miss Red made a good point, it did become the lesbian theme song for a while- lesbians overlooked the oppressive lyrics and celebrated the song for being the first mainstream song to actually mention girl on girl love. So I guess I could understand that being the reason for using that song. But Ashlee’s performance did seem to embody normative femininity, I suppose my argument is based on the idea that there is something wrong with normative femininity, which there shouldnt be as long as it is consciously chosen and not seen as a requirement. I think it is great that Ashlee and her mother discuss gender roles and drag performance (although regardless of how smart she is I really doubt a 7 year old can completely grasp those concepts). But her choice to perform that song in that way, to me indicated that maybe she didnt fully grasp those concepts, her performance of that song exemplified the way in which many little girls feel they have to fulfill a super femmey, super sexy, make-up covered gender role.

    In contrast, the Lixgood family is a drag troupe that performed at Cincinnati pride https://stuffqueerpeopleneedtoknow.wordpress.com/2009/06/15/cincinnati-pride-day-2-phenomenal/ and they had their children perform some numbers with them. No one is discussing those children’s drag performance in the same way that they are discussing Ashlee’s. Now I am not as familiar with many of the songs that the Lixgood Juniors performed as I am familiar with Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.” But my impression of many rap songs I hear on the radio is that (like most mainstream music) they a maintain normative gender roles of dominant men and submissive women, and I am sure if I dissected the lyrics of the songs performed by the Lixgood Juniors I would have similar beef with their performance as I did with Ashlee’s. But the Lixgood Juniors were outfitted in t-shirts, almost identical to the shirts the adults in the troupe were wearing. The children (and the adults in the troupe for that matter) were presented is largely androgynous, I didn’t know which gender they were supposed to be presenting as and I think that worked. It’s outside the box, it blurs the line between men and women for these children and I think that is great. The performance by the Lixgood Juniors was a very different kind of performance than that by Ashlee.

    • “I am not sure what Erin was talking about with bars, where I saw Ashlee perform at Cleveland pride was outside, in a space that was family friendly.”

      That might be the fact, but Red also had her daughter perform at the bars she performs at, as well, on numerous occasions, as well as dress up as a “drag king” and “bio queen”. Let the little girl be a child instead of toss her in the ring to dress up like a boy. Life is confusing enough when you are a heterosexual child, let alone when the child is being raised by gay parents, with the peer pressure at school, etc, so lets throw some more confusion in the pot when she starts talking to the teacher and the class at show and tell, stating “I dress up as a boy and dance for money” Please! Looks like a call to the Child-Welfare department would be on the way.

      That is what is frustrating, the mother is doing this as a way to bring more attention to her, than just letting it be a performance of fun nature.

      I’m glad “Ashlee” is so knowledgable in being a patriarch for “queer youth” and passing the word around regarding her belief.

      Gay, Straight or Transgendered, what ever your cup of tea maybe, the child should not be allowed in a bar to perform PERIOD. As for the performance at Pride, yes it was harmless when I saw her, but I could also hear other audience members voicing the same thoughts as myself…”What was her mother thinking”so if I step up and voice an opinion, thats what it is, my opinion…Why force feed a lifestyle down your child’s throat, we all have not picked the gay/lesbian lifestyle for the popularity of it for gawds sake. But the “child” (yes child) should be able to be a child, not have the mother live her need for attention through the 7 year old and put her up on stage to perform. Yes the little girl may be strong in her opinion if she wants to do something, as all children are, but that’s when the mother should step in and say, “maybe when you are older” but right now, Mommy is just performing.

      Ashlee seems like an adorable child, but life is about choices, and I think the mother should have made an honest choice to set a good example as opposed to letting her daughter getting up on stage “Singing how she wants to kiss a girl”.

      Again, it was all for Red’s vanity I presume.

  6. I totally agree with Erin. I understand if a child wants to play dress up and dance in front of her friends. However, a HUGE group of people at PRIDE on a stage where there could be a child predator present. And look at the skirt the girl is wearing, its the equivalent to an ass scarf. Why don’t you put her in a bikini and parade her onstage? Would your parents be proud to see their granddaughter onstage? I know I certainly would not! I have a daughter myself and I would not let her onstage to perform a sexy sultry song like that. She knows Disney channel not playboy! I don’t care if it is at PRIDE or a school talent show. A child should not move like that or “perform” like that unless she has seen it. Did you think of pictures that could be put on the internet of your daughter? People who would see her? My goal as a mother is to protect my daughter, not exploit her!

  7. If you are a parent and a part of the LGBT community, then why are you being so nasty and attacking another parent and member of the LGBT community?? I understand we all have the right to our opinions, but ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! It seems to me that you may have some sort of vendetta against Red, and here is not the place to air it out!!! Don’t you think we have enough problems in the LGBT community?? This is so petty and ridiculous. So Ashlee performs, big deal!! So she performed to “I kissed a Girl”, so what!! She is an amazing little girl, and her mother is an amazing woman!!! Why don’t you turn your head and focus on bigger problems in our community……..or should I say, why don’t you try focusing on something that truly is a problem in our community, because this is not!!!!!

  8. I have personally never met Red, however I still have beliefs and I voiced them. And it is not that I am attacking a parent in the LGBT community. I don’t think any parent should have done that! Maybe if she stuck to a focus of something a child should have done. And a dress attired fit for a child, not a mini skirt onstage!

  9. What Ashlee did took ALOT of courage for a 7 year old. Why does everyone have to be so negative?? Everyone has different beliefs especially when it comes to parenting. I understand this because I have 2 children of my own. If my daughter wanted to do something like this, you better believe I would let her. That’s the problem with society these days, we want to judge everyone else, but we don’t look in our own backyard. Like I said, why don’t we focus on something that truly is a problem in our community. And that is not a 7 year old performing at PRIDE!!!

  10. Pingback: Happy 1st blogoversary to SQPNTK! « Stuff Queer People Need To Know

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