This year’s Dayton Pride features ‘reverse’ parade, live broadcast, The Rubi Girls

This year’s Dayton Pride festivities were supposed to kick off on June 5, but due to COVID-19 concerns, they were pushed back to Aug. 21-23. Because of ongoing safety concerns, the annual event is now transforming in more ways than one.

Pride is an annual celebration of the LGBT community, in honor of the 1969 Stonewall riots. The NYC uprising marked the beginning of the movement to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices against LGBT Americans.

Dayton Pride festivities are hosted by the Greater Dayton LGBT Center and typically include a parade, festival, bar crawl, musical performances and other events.

This year, organizers are taking an entirely different approach in order to practice social distancing. The event is now occurring only on Aug. 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will include a “reverse” parade and a live broadcast, featuring local dignitaries, entertainers, live bands, along with a few surprises.



Coming to the decision to at first postpone, and then come up with a whole new concept for Pride was not easy, but necessary.

“We had already postponed it once, and we definitely want to do something, because in our mind you just can’t skip Pride for a year,” R.J. McKay, Board President of the Greater Dayton LGBT Center, told us. “We need to acknowledge the celebration of pride, and celebrate who we are, what we fought for, and where we still have yet to go.”

In the spring, when the decision was made to push Pride back to August, the Board was hopeful that would give enough time for the curve to be flattened, and we’d be back to normal, or some modified version of it. However, current conditions call for continued safety measures.

“We just didn’t see things improving as far as they needed to improve throughout the greater community, not just the LGBT community, but throughout Dayton Ohio and the country,” McKay continued. “We don’t want to risk lives any more than anybody else does, or any more than the lives that have been lost throughout the years in the LGBT community.”



Reverse Parade

One of the main events of Pride is the parade, which typically functions like any other parade, with approximately 5,000 attendees lined along downtown streets to watch the floats, performers, sponsors and non-profit organizations.

This year, organizers have turned the concept of a parade on its head. Instead of standing on the sidelines, this year’s parade will have the spectators driving by, with static displays set up 10-feet apart along Second Street by the performers, sponsors and non-profits.

“We were trying to come up with a safe way of doing a parade, if we could do one at all,” Randy Phillips, Executive Director of the Greater Dayton LGBT Center, told us. “One of our board members happened to mention, ‘we could do a reverse Pride parade, and we ran with that idea.”

The parade starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 22, and runs until 11 a.m. During that hour, Pride spectators can drive the parade route in their own fun way.

“We’re encouraging people to decorate their cars as pridefully as they wish, and historic cars, obviously are very encouraged,” Phillips continued. “Then simply drive down 2nd St downtown, much like an old fashioned cruiser. They’ll drive from Patterson to Main Street, and they can circle around and come back down the strip again, if they want to. That’s our reverse Pride parade!”

Although participants will be in cars, organizers would like participants to still wear face masks and follow COVID guidelines, especially if friends are riding together. Keeping the car windows open and getting fresh air is highly encouraged. Also, attendees are asked to drive very slowly and to obey all traffic laws and traffic signals.

Virtual Broadcast

After 11 a.m. when the parade ends, there is a cleanup and regroup session while attendees can go home to tune into the live broadcast, which airs from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on DATV channel 5, as well as Facebook Live and YouTube Live.

“Each year we do the entertainment portion at Courthouse Square, where the mayor and other dignitaries speak, and then we do live entertainment,” Phillips explained. “This year we’re going to do that part as a live TV show. Also, a copy of the program will live on YouYube so people can view it or visit it thereafter.”

Credit: Libby Ballengee

Credit: Libby Ballengee

The live event will be hosted by Rob Austin, who typically is one of the hosts of Pride each year. The famous Rubi Girls are also returning to perform during the livestream this year, as well as a special custom piece by the Dayton Dance Initiative. Many of the other details and performers are still under wraps until Saturday.

It’s been a challenge to get all the entertainers ready for live TV, but it’s one that Phillips and all the organizers are ready for. After all, the show must go on, and Pride deserves to be celebrated even if it looks and feels different this year.


Dayton Pride parade: Drive by to see floats on Aug. 22, 2020, from 10-11 a.m. on 2nd St. in downtown Dayton.

Dayton Pride: Virtual show airs on Aug. 22, 2020, from 1-3 p.m. on channel 5 DATV, or online at the Greater Dayton LGBT Center’s Facebook Live and YouTube Live.

More info: Facebook event

Credit: Jan Underwood

Credit: Jan Underwood

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