Many folks in northeast Ohio have heard of the upcoming Gay Games, which are set to take place in the Cleveland and Akron area between August 9th and 16th. The Games are a series of athletic, choral, and band competitions, as well as cultural and community events organized by, and for the LGBT community. The Human Rights Campaign is a lead sponsor of this year’s event. Cleveland was selected to host the games this year, beating out Miami, Washington, D.C., and Boston. This is great news for the economy in northeast Ohio because, according to Cleveland councilperson Joe Cimperman, the events are expected to attract roughly 100,000 visitors and bring in over $60 million worth of economic stimulus.
According to the Federation of Gay Games, the purpose of the event is to “to foster and augment the self-respect of lesbians and gay men throughout the world and to engender respect and understanding from the nongay world.” With a mission statement like that, and with such a large amount of money being brought into the local economy around the Games, I believe it is important to be mindful of where those dollars are spent.
Over the past several weeks, a growing number of locally owned businesses in northeast Ohio have signed onto a letter in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Andrew Lowrey’s business is one of them. Andrew owns Downtown 140, a wonderful restaurant in downtown Hudson that specializes in pairing award-winning wines with their tasty dishes. Andrew has owned the company for about a year and runs it with the help of his skilled and friendly staff, wife of 22 years, and three boys. Recently, Andrew signed on to the ENDA small business letter of support. Like many Ohioans, Andrew was unaware that workplace protections for the LGBT community do not exist – and he was quick to publicly declare his support for ENDA.
Business owners like Andrew should not only be recognized for their leadership, courage, and compassion, but should also receive the financial support of the LGBT community whenever possible. So, if you’re coming to northeast Ohio, please stop by his restaurant or the others who are openly supportive of equality