Last edited: May 08, 2004

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, however.

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 It was quickly rescinded after there was an outcry.

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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