• Emily Win

The Secret Gem of Toledo Pride

Ah, yes, another summer of Prides come and gone. The rainbow flags are packed away and the biodegradable vegan eye shadow has crumbled into the soil. Closing up a summer of suspenders and speedos, Toledo held a celebration for 10 years of Pride this past weekend.

Traditionally, Pride is held in June of every year in memory of the Stonewall Riots. However, due to the growing number of Pride celebrations, smaller cities started to hold Pride in August. Having been to (quite possibly) the smallest Pride in the States (Tucson, AZ) and the largest Pride in the world (San Francisco), I went into this weekend with little to no expectations. I figured a few generic flags would line a single street and groups of inclusive churches and agencies would rally their troops to do a few cheers. But no, my friends! Toledo Pride attracted 20,000 people from across Northwest Ohio to join in a parade featuring many groups, organizations, and nonprofits. The main event included over 40 acts on the Promenade Park stage with over 90 vendors selling T shirts, soaps, buttons, food, and art. The parade was fun, but the main event in the park buzzed with family-friendly, sex-positive queer-friendly electricity. The event took place over three days of drag, parades, performances, and brunch.

Amidst the glitter and lipstick, a rising star emerged from the caves to cast siren calls across the niche world of queer women. Bitch, Thunder! is a Toledo-based all female drumline with the performance presence of butch Sappho herself. Instead of taking the stage, they charged through the crowd in cut off jean jackets proclaiming their namesake and playing against the patriarchy. Instantly enamored, I dove deep into their social medias to check out more behind the scenes info. According to the Toledo City paper, the group began in 2016 with three members and has grown up to nine since. They perform all around the Toledo and Detroit areas, gracing all of us with their feminine power, forcing others to make space for their presence. From their super synced rhythms to chanting their group's name, this lady gang shows up to make noise and be noticed.

I quickly decided that Bitch, Thunder! was my own personal hidden gem of Toledo Pride. It was refreshing to move back to Toledo to find a group of women who represent the culture I've been involved with across the various places I've lived over the years: a culture I am trying to build here on this blog and wherever I move next. This is a culture that explores QTPOC representation, honors diverse community, and celebrates artistic expression in all of its forms.Yes, they were just a small group in a parade of floats, but the Toledo I grew up with never made space for women that were out, proud, and making noise. From an ex-Toledoan perspective, these gals give me hope that Toledo could be spunky, hip, and socially aware.

Needless to say, if I could play drums, I would be sliding into their DMs like a greasy watermelon thrown down a slip n slide. They're the coolest thing to hit T-town since colored glass and I am *here* for* it*. You can check them out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Alternatively, you could buy a Bitch, Thunder! T-shirt, cut it, and make your own trendy crop top here.

Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash