Cincinnati's Queer Roots: More Than Just Chili and Graeter's
Cincinnati's LGBTQ+ community has a rich history that is as diverse as the city itself. From the first gay bars and underground clubs in the 1950s, to the recent passage of anti-discrimination laws, the LGBTQ+ community has been an integral part of the city's story.
One of the most exciting moments in Cincinnati's LGBTQ+ history was the first official Pride parade in 1973. It was a small but mighty gathering, with about 50 people marching through downtown Cincinnati to demand visibility and equality. The parade has grown significantly since then, with thousands of people now coming together every year to celebrate love and diversity.
The gay pride march in April 1973 at fountain square. photograph courtesy of the collection of the public library of Cincinnati and Hamilton county
Cincinnati has also been home to some incredible LGBTQ+ icons, like legendary drag performer Penny Tration and the incomparable Nina West. These queens have entertained and inspired generations of LGBTQ+ individuals, reminding us that we are all deserving of love and respect, no matter who we are or who we love.
Another notable figure in Cincinnati's LGBTQ+ history is Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Obergefell, a Cincinnati resident, fought tirelessly for the right to marry his partner John Arthur, who was terminally ill. Their love and commitment to each other sparked a movement that changed the course of history, and we are forever grateful for their bravery and perseverance.
In addition to Obergefell, there have been many other LGBTQ+ activists, artists, and community leaders who have left their mark on Cincinnati. The annual Cincinnati Pride festival, which began in 2010, is a testament to the community's strength and resilience, as well as its ability to come together and celebrate diversity in all its forms. Cincinnati's rich and colorful LGBTQ+ history, filled with memorable moments and inspiring individuals who have contributed to the vibrant community we know today. From the first Pride parade in '73 to the recent passage of anti-discrimination laws, the LGBTQ+ community in Cincinnati has been an integral part of our city's story.
Recent LGBTQ+ history
March 15, 2006
Cincinnati City Council approves an amendment to the city’s Human Rights Ordinance, adding LGBTQ individuals to those included in employment and housing protections.
Cincinnati Pride, organized by the Greater Cincinnati Gay Chamber of Commerce, returns festivities from Northside’s Hoffner Park to Fountain Square, making it more accessible. Attendance skyrockets.
December 1, 2011
Cincinnati’s first openly gay city council member, Chris Seelbach, is sworn into office.
December 28, 2014
The suicide of transgender Kings Mills teen Leelah Alcorn draws worldwide attention to transgender rights and mobilizes conversion therapy bans after her self-published suicide note goes viral.
June 26, 2015
Cincinnatian Jim Obergefell wins a landmark Supreme Court case (Obergefell v. Hodges) that paves the way for federal marriage equality.
December 9, 2015
Inspired by Alcorn, Cincinnati City Council passes a ban on conversion therapy for minors, becoming the second U.S. city (after Washington, D.C.) to do so. Covington passed the same ban in March of 2020.
June 21, 2019
Marking Pride weekend and the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, a rainbow Pride flag is raised for the first time at City Hall.
Charmaine McGuffey sworn in as Hamilton County's first openly LGBTQ and woman sheriff.