Gays Trickle into Rhea County
Attendance Down for Day at The Park
May 8, 2004
Gays did not invade Rhea County in droves on a sunny
Saturday, but they did trickle in.
Attendance had been estimated at up to 3,500 for Rhea
County Gay Day, but only several hundred showed up.
Rosie O’Donnell never put in appearance, though it was
rumored she had rented a Dayton motel.
June Griffin, local foe of gay causes, also did not show.
There were plenty of police officers and news media,
A full contingent of officers from the Rhea County
Sheriff’s Office and Dayton Police Department, including the Incident
Response Team, were on hand.
About the only action they saw was early in the day when
a couple of anti-gay protestors, including one with a cross, refused to stay
out of the park and were led away by police. It was announced earlier that
protestors would not be allowed inside Dayton’s City Point Park.
News media came from as far away as Seattle for the event
that has gotten wide exposure.
There were speakers and entertainment under a tent.
Several other smaller tents were set up for vendors,
including a group seeking a million signatures in favor of “marriage
equality” and a tarot reader.
Heterosexual couples mingled among guys holding hands and
women curled up on blankets together. Tatoos and shiny eyebrow and nose rings
were in abundance.
The event was called after the Rhea County Commission
passed a ban on gays in the county. It was quickly rescinded after there was
Rev. Frederick Giddings of Washington, D.C., led a small
anti-gay contingent at the historic Rhea County Courthouse on Friday.
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