The Cleveland Pride Band creates an authentic space for LGBTQ+ and allied musicians to promote community, visibility, education and engagement through music performance. We welcome musicians of all skill levels, ages, and identities.
We have been a part of the Pride Band Alliance since 2004, and is a membership organization of LGBTQ+ community concert and marching bands from cities around the world.
We also also a part of the Association of Concert Bands who look to advance the excellence in concert band music through performance & education
Gay marching bands have existed since 1978 when bands were formed in San Francisco, Houston, and Los Angeles. In September of 1982 the leaders of eight independent bands from across the United States met in Chicago and agreed to form the Lesbian and Gay Bands of America (LGBA). The original LGBA member bands were from Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
The Blazing River Freedom Band was formed in September of 2003, then known as the Cleveland Lesbian/Gay/Allies Concert/Marching Band. The band began playing many events throughout 2004, including the Cleveland Pride Parade, a sit down concert, traveling and joining other LGBA bands for their pride parades, as well as having members travel to LGBA's annual conference in Fort Lauderdale, where the band was formally accepted as a member of the Lesbian Gay Band Association. The band officially changed its name to the Blazing River Freedom Band in March of 2007. This was both to be more inclusive of everyone, as well as ease in name recognition. The LGBA was thrilled with the new name, as the group's prior name was the longest acronym in the organization.
The name of the band is a reference to a significant event in Greater Cleveland in 1969. On June 22, 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire. The polluted river had caught fire close to a dozen times before that dating back to 1868, but the fire in 1969 grabbed much media attention. It made Cleveland, the river, and Lake Erie a common punch line. Nicknames such as "Mistake on the Lake" were born from this event and it heightened awareness of environmental and pollution problems throughout the country. There was a positive effect to all of these events, though. Many credit the event as a catalyst for the environmental movement of the late 1960's, as well as the passage of the Clean Water Act of 1972, and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Today, the Cuyahoga River is home to more than 40 species of fish. Beavers, blue herons, and bald eagles nest along the river's banks.
The Cleveland Pride Band has come a long way since the pandemic hit, and it's now thriving more than ever. After facing some challenges and hardships during the COVID-19 crisis, the band underwent a rebrand in January 2023, and it has had a tremendously positive impact on the group. The rebranding has allowed the band to refocus its energy and efforts, and it has also brought new life and excitement to the organization. With its new look and energy, the Cleveland Pride Band has been able to attract new members and revitalize its existing fanbase. Despite all the challenges it has faced, the Cleveland Pride Band is now a thriving, vibrant, and successful organization, and it shows no signs of slowing down.