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George Takei to lead Columbus Pride parade

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George Takei is set to serve as grand marshal for the 2014 Stonewall Columbus Pride Festival and Parade. Credit: MCT

George Takei is set to serve as grand marshal for the 2014 Stonewall Columbus Pride Festival and Parade.
Credit: MCT

Since coming out in 2005, “Star Trek’s” George Takei has been an example to the LGBT community on how to “live long and prosper.”

Now the actor, author, activist and “Star Trek” alumnus is set to serve as the grand marshal of the 2014 Stonewall Columbus Pride Festival and Parade, which is to have the theme of “created equal.”

The festival, which is set to take place June 20-21 at Goodale Park, is sponsored by Stonewall Columbus, a local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender support organization. Takei is set to lead the parade June 21 and attend the closing brunch June 22.

How Takei spends the rest of the festival is up to him, said Karla Rothan, executive director of Stonewall Columbus — but however he spends his time in Columbus, Rothan said she thinks Takei will be a big hit.

“People are going to be giving him lots of love,” she said.

Takei was chosen as the grand marshal after Rothan wrote him a letter following the 2013 Pride Festival.

Stephen Snyder-Hill and his partner, Joshua Snyder-Hill, served as grand marshals for 2013’s Pride parade.

Stephen Snyder-Hill, an Iraq War veteran, drew national attention when his question about “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies was booed by a crowd at a Republican presidential primary in Florida in September 2011.

The Columbus native and U.S. Army major is set to release a book on his experiences in September, with a foreword written by Takei. Takei has been an advocate for LGBT issues since he told “Frontiers” magazine in 2005 that he is gay.

The almost-77-year-old will be the first celebrity grand marshal for the Columbus parade in its more than three-decade history, said John Herman, the marketing and web coordinator for Stonewall Columbus.

It’s not unusual for the grand marshal or marshals to be well-known locally or as part of the LGBT community — as Steve and Joshua Snyder-Hill are — but “(Takei) is the first celebrity of this caliber,” Rothan said.

“It’s uncharted territory,” Herman said.

Maxi Henn, president of Ohio State’s chapter of Sigma Phi Beta Fraternity Inc., a fraternity for gay and allied men on campus, said he shares Herman and Rothan’s enthusiasm.

“George Takei has always represented the LGBT community really well,” said Henn, a fourth-year in psychology. “He’s universally loved in the LGBT community.”

Members of the fraternity marched with other members of the OSU community in the parade last year, Henn said.

“Of LGBT events held in Ohio, I think Pride … easily has the biggest name recognition,” Henn said.

It was estimated that around 300,000 people participated in the Pride parade last year, according to “Outlook Columbus” magazine.

Stonewall Columbus isn’t paying Takei to serve as grand marshal, but it is set to cover Takei’s expenses related to his visit, Herman said. He added that grand marshals are generally not paid.

Correction: A prior version of this article stated that the Pride festival’s parade is set to take place June 20. In fact, the Pride parade is set to take place June 21. 

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