CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati’s annual Pride Parade drew nearly 100,000 people to the city streets Saturday, and while the festivities were a celebration of individuality and acceptance, for some it was a time to remember a loved one.
Illustrations of Leelah Alcorn were plastered over cars and banners, and her name was in the hearts of many who walked in her honor.
Chris Fortin, who went to Kings High School with Leelah, marched in memory of the transgender woman who took her life. He said her death not only rocked him, but the LGBT community as a whole.
Fortin said he uses Leelah’s message to provide hope for those who struggle with embracing who they are, and he shares her story to promote education and understanding
“Most people don’t know what pronouns to use or that there are different ones. Or what LGBT stand for. We try to unite, and educate and remember,” he said.
Kirby Cross identifies as non-binary, which means they do not identify as male or female.
They said Leelah's story is important because “sometimes it’s hard to be out.”
“It’s a story of how trans people in the community aren’t necessarily accepted. It’s really difficult,” Cross said. “If you don’t have a loving and accepting home … it can lead to a tragedy like that where a young girl didn’t feel love and accepted.”
But loved reigned at Saturday’s parade. People danced in the streets and embraced on the sidewalk. Rainbow flags and banners rippled through the crowd.
Sarah Conklin said she was honored to be able to celebrate the diversity of the LGBT community.
“I think it’s beautiful. It’s very empowering to be able to part of that community and see people be individually who they are,” Conklin said.
Fortin said Leelah would be proud of the community for coming together through love and acceptance.
“I like to think she’s smiling down right now, and she’s thrilled,” he said.
Pride continues until 9:30 p.m. Saturday with a festival at Sawyer Point. Organizers say all are welcome.
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