By: Cory Berlekamp
Handfuls of candy land on the ground as children rush to fill their pockets while the assortment continues to rain down around them as the parade passed by them.
On Saturday Aug. 18, the Toledo pride parade consisting of local restaurants, banks, bars, churches, schools, among others smiled and waved during the colorful spectacle. Joining in this rich display were student members of UNITED, the University of Findlay gay-straight alliance.
“Toledo pride is a really good starter pride because it is a lot smaller and a more comfortable community to start your experience,” said Makenzie Wimer, senior at UF and UNITED President. “I really enjoyed it.”
This is not the first year that University of Findlay students have been a part of the parade. According to Robin K. Walters-Powell, Professor and Chair of the Social Work program at Findlay and faculty advisor for UNITED, has been taking students to the celebration since the club began nine years ago but could not attend this year. Leading the group instead was Wimer, who was elected as the club’s president at the end of spring 2018 semester.
Wimer believes that participating in things like the parade are great for students who have never had a chance to do something like it before.
“It’s going to be different for every person depending on where they came from but I think it’s a really great opportunity especially for LGBTQ youth and young adults who have come from somewhere where the community is not overly accepting,” said Wimer. “To be able to go to Toledo pride is just a huge eye opener because you realize that there are cities like Toledo, Columbus, and Pittsburg which are so accepting that it makes your heart melt.”
According to Wimer the number of students who could attend the parade was lower this year but she was not discouraged.
“This year only 10 of us went and that was solely based on a bunch of people who had too much to do,” said Wimer.
Though the number of students joining them was down the group was joined in by Spectrum of Findlay, the LGBTQ+ group in Findlay. This is the first year that Spectrum has joined UNITED in the parade.
“We have two faculty members who are actually on the board at Spectrum and so UNITED has been getting a lot closer with them and forming a connection,” said Wimer, who is excited because of what that means for students who can see the larger picture in Findlay.
“We are in a place now in college where we are in the LGBTQ community but we don’t really know where our lives will go within that,” explained Wimer. “And to be able to see small families with kids, you begin to realize that ‘Oh my gosh, that could be me in 10 years.’ It’s not just popping in and out of small relationships forever, there’s an end game for us too, just like straight people.”