MILFORD, Ohio (FOX19) - Thanks to an online campaign and fundraiser, a Tri-State teenager is hosting a Pride event in Milford this weekend. She’s also working on launching a non-profit for the LGBTQ community.
Reilly Ackermann, 17, says she hopes to see the streets of Milford bursting with pride this weekend.
The young activist says she is a queer woman and she wants to do more for the LGTBQ community.
“I’ve had a lot of hard experiences as a queer youth in a small town, and I don’t want other people to have those same experiences as me,” Ackermann said.
That is why Ackermann says she launched an online campaign, pushing for a Pride event to take place in Milford on Saturday, June 27.
Using social media, she asked allies to contact city leaders and small businesses, encouraging them to support the cause.
“One of my big things was I wanted to make sure it supported both because of everything they’ve been going through because of COVID, so I have about eight or nine businesses that have a special offer or raffle for the day, and part of the proceeds, they can choose from a list of Cincinnati queer organizations to donate their profits too,” Ackermann said.
Ackermann said she is not stopping there. Her ultimate goal is to create a non-profit LGBTQ youth center in Milford. In a matter of days, she has raised hundreds of dollars for it through a GoFundMe.
“If it’s not accepting at home, if it’s not accepting at school, they can go there and have a good place to stay, a place to have food and other people who are like them that they can bond with,” Ackermann said.
Not everyone is on board, Ackermann explains, but most people have been welcoming and open to her ideas. The response she has gotten so far, she says, makes her hopeful for the future.
“I wanted to kind of create a safe environment and foster an environment of love and acceptance in our community,” Ackermann said.
Ackermann said she also supports the Black Lives Matter movement and specifically wants to create more safe spaces for Black transgender women. She says Pride was a riot led by Black trans women and it is important to acknowledge and remember queer icons, because without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
The Row House Gallery is one of the Milford businesses participating in the pride event. The second-generation owner, Nancy Meyer, gave a statement in response to Ackermann’s plans:
“The LGBTQ+ community has been very supportive of us over the years. Milford’s downtown has an incredible diverse group of business owners and clientele. I am pleased to support Reilly bringing Pride week to Milford. We will be donating a percentage of this weekends framing to LGBTQ organizations.”
The pride event is scheduled for Saturday. It will be happening all day at participating Milford businesses.