Controversy at Pride in Park


The Hillsboro City Council passed an ordinance creating a designated outdoor refreshment area (DORA) in the city that will allow open alcohol containers outside at specific times in a designated area during a city council meeting Thursday.

The ordinance passed with four council members in favor of the DORA and three against. Council members Mary Stanforth, Adam Wilkin, Greg Maurer and Jason Brown voted for the ordinance, while council members Don Storer, Dan Baucher and Jo Sanborn voted against it.

The council also heard comments from several citizens about the Pride in the Park event held June 3 at Liberty Park in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I’m here to address the lewd behavior that transpired June 3 at Hillsboro Pride in the Park,” said Hillsboro resident Jeremiah Ogden. “In this park, with minors present, there were drag queens, Satanists, and a group walking around putting condoms in people’s faces.”

Ogden said that although the event was advertised as family friendly for all ages, some of the behavior was not appropriate for all family members.

“There were people that were speaking on the greatness of Satan, and the entertainers were in physical contact with children,” he said. “Down at the public restroom, there was a crowd blocking the ladies restroom, and there were posted signs that said that female restrooms were for all genders.”

A former Hillsboro resident who does business in the city said he witnessed a women with her breasts covered by nothing but Band-Aids. He said he saw “a lot of vulgar movements” and “heard the ‘F-bomb’ constantly with the loudspeaker.”

Ogden said, “One of the groups, the Cincinnati Sisters, went straight from there the next day to do a Pride Story Hour with children in Northern Kentucky. This is not unusual for these people to do the drag story hours with children.”

Jerry Bailey, a Hillsboro resident who is the current president of Hillsboro Pride Ohio, also spoke to the city council. “We’re an organization that started in April of this year and took over Hillsboro Pride in the Park for this year,” he said.

Bailey said himself and other members of the Hillsboro Pride Ohio board did not condone some of the behaviors that occurred onstage at Pride in the Park. “I’m going to tell you first and foremost that I do take the safety of children seriously,” he said.

Bailey shared some statistics concerning LGBTQ+ youth. “Less than 40 percent of LGBTQ+ youth live, according to them, in an affirming home where their gender identity, their pronouns, or their sexual identity are affirmed, and 41 percent of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered suicide in the past year,” he said.

Bailey said he was upset that members of the Proud Boys were invited to the event. “The Proud Boys, if you’re not aware of them, are a neo-Nazi white supremacist organization whose ultimate purpose is to only further white male children,” said Bailey. “Their goal for me and my Asian American kids and for anyone here who is not white and straight is eradication.”

Bailey said members of the Proud Boys were “invited by individuals who are in this room next to me.”

“They were invited here by hate speech on a Facebook group that, at least to my knowledge, has targeted me and every other member of my board, and I have no interest in individuals like that being around town,” said Bailey.

Hillsboro resident Laura Polstra also spoke during the city council meeting. “I know lately that it has become popular politically and, for some people, personally to malign, harass and persecute the LGBTQ community, but they deserve to feel save, even in a place like Hillsboro, which is very conservative,” she said. “My daughter, who is gay, deserves to feel safe in this town. The last thing I want to say is that bringing the traitorous Proud Boys who tried to overthrow our popularly elected government to our town is the real disgrace.”

Meredith Keister, a Hillsboro resident and board member for Hillsboro Pride Ohio, addressed the concerns about condoms being distributed at the event. “That was given to us from the Highland County Health Department to hand out, and I communicated to our volunteers that they were not to be handed out to minors at the event, and I made sure the individuals who handed them out were adults over 18.”

Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.

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