In a tiny Ohio village, Pride planning has revealed a hidden – but excited! – LGBTQ+ community

By Alissa Paolella, The Buckeye Flame

New Richmond Pride started with a simple question in a local Facebook group: Are any local businesses celebrating Pride Month?

Sure, there were some negative responses (“We don’t need gay people here.”), but local resident Michelle Johnson also knew there were actually tons of LGBTQ+ people who live and work in the tiny village. Her neighbors just didn’t realize it … yet.

Those who had passion and energy for celebrating Pride in New Richmond migrated over to a new Facebook group to help focus their efforts. The group now boasts over 200 members, a hefty number for this small town of approximately 2,500 residents in Clermont County on the Ohio-Kentucky border.

And thus New Richmond Pride was born.

Pride founder Johnson, who is bisexual, and new volunteer board members didn’t even realize how many LGBTQ+ folks lived among them in New Richmond. But once they began to look more closely, LGBTQ+ individuals and allies started appearing everywhere.

When members gathered for an informal meeting at a local restaurant, two LGBTQ couples came in to eat, sitting on either side of the planning group.

Chris Capato, a member of the New Richmond Pride 2022 Facebook group, shared that his family is happy to have representation in their small town.

“It’s all about acceptance, representation, and showing others we are just like them,” Capato said. “Having an organization locally helps in representation to bring us together as a community within a community, and creates conversation for LGBTQ [individuals]and allies to have with others around us to expand their minds and see we are just people.”

At the RiverDays Fest – held in August on New Richmond’s historic and picturesque riverfront on the Ohio River –the New Richmond Pride group hosted a booth to raise money and awareness of their planning efforts for a summer 2022 Pride celebration. Johnson was touched by a grandfather who stopped by the table to ask questions.

“He said, ‘My granddaughter is trans. If I wanted to get her a pin, which one should I get?’ said Johnson. “There were so many older people supporting their grandkids who are trans and nonbinary.”

A gay man happened to pass by the booth, sharing that he had returned for RiverDays to New Richmond, where he still owns property with his partner. Johnson recalled him saying, “It’s about time. We’re ready for inclusion.”

Johnson said volunteers were sobbing at times, shocked and pleased at the amount of support shown at RiverDays. New Richmond Pride sold around 150 flags and pronoun pins to raise funds for their 2022 inaugural Pride. The group will set up a booth at New Richmond events throughout the year to raise funds for this first known LGBTQ+ event in the city and county.

Johnson said the new nonprofit Pride organization will promote New Richmond, including its Main Street along the river, small businesses, and all the town has to offer. The group is also focused on connecting with other LGBTQ+ organizations in the region, such as PFLAG Cincinnati, New Richmond High School’s GSA, and a local LGBTQ-owned farm. 🔥

Ignite Action:

The Buckeye Flame is an platform dedicated to amplifying the voices of LGBTQ+ Ohioans to support community and civic empowerment through the creation of engaging content that chronicles their triumphs, struggles, and lived experiences.

Copyright 2021 The Buckeye Flame. Reprinted with permission by The Buckeye Flame.

Published by Alissa Paolella

Alissa Paolella is a writer, editor, photographer, social media manager, and marketing communications strategist with over 15 years of experience in the news media, advertising, and health care industries. They have overseen print and digital campaigns for small and large organizations and has served as a communications consultant for numerous nonprofits and universities. In their free time, Alissa enjoys trail-hiking with their camera and almost always has a book (or two) nearby.

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