On Sunday, August 24, thousands gathered together for the Akron Pride Equity March and Festival, a celebration of community, history, and identity. Performers on the main stage included crowd-favorite Deborah Cox, country star Steve Grand, and a full roster of local talent.

Earlier this summer, I had the distinct honor of speaking on the “Queer Fear” panel at San Diego Comic-Con. As I spoke alongside actors, filmmakers, and critics to discuss queer representation in horror films, a panelist made a comment that sort of infuriated me. I’m paraphrasing, but she expressed believing part of the difficulty getting queer stories greenlit is because “you have to think about the states in the middle of the country who don’t always identify with these stories.”

Coined as the first Pride in the city of Kent, the Rainbow Squirrel Festival has been many months in the making and a long time in the coming. Hosted on October 3 by PRIDE! Kent, a Kent State University student organization, organizers feel an event like this was sorely overdue.

August marks the beginning of a new school year. New pencils. New lessons. New teachers. But, for countless of us educators, the start of the school year represents another deeply personal journey: deciding whether to come out of the closet.