Enough years have passed since Cleveland's darkest days that this energetic city on the southern shore of Lake Erie has begun to earn some legit cachet as a cool place both to visit and live. This isn't to say that Cleveland doesn't receive its share of ribbing for being something less than glamorous, but its portrayal in TV hits like Hot in Cleveland and, earlier, The Drew Carey Show - as well as such movie classics as Christmas Story and the gay '80s coming-of-age flick Edge of Seventeen presented a lovable, unpretentious, and quirky side to the city nicknamed by detractors, lamentably, as "the mistake by the lake" for many years. Cleveland is riding relatively high these days, having become one of the most-improved cities in the Midwest, and earning considerable praise as a key tourist destination. It also hosted the the 9th Gay Games , which provided the city with a platform for showing off just how much its changed for the better. LGBT residents have played a vital role in the city's comeback, especially in neighborhoods east of downtown, such as Ohio City, Tremont, and Detroit Shoreway. A century ago Cleveland was a beacon of industrial prosperity, but the Depression rattled the city's financial stability, and following World War II a bevy of local factories closed or relocated in the South.
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The show began and performers dressed in flamboyant outfits gyrated on the stage to songs popular in the s as customers handed them folded dollar bills. It's the kind of show Bounce is known for. The nightclub on Cleveland's near West Side has been a staple of Cleveland's LGBT community since , when it opened on bustling strip of Detroit Avenue that included other -- now-shuttered -- gay bars. Drag is a staple of the bar's entertainment lineup. But like many Cleveland gay bars, the Detroit Avenue hotspot hasn't been without its growing pains. It closed in before reopening under new ownership. As tolerance toward homosexuality spreads, LGBT people no longer frequent gay bars and clubs in the numbers they once did, and the gay bars and clubs that remain increasingly rely on special events.
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To the extent that a community is defined by its organizations and institutions, Cleveland's gay community probably dates from the founding of a local Mattachine Society group in the s. Mattachine was the progenitor of present-day gay organizations and in a sense prepared the way for what would become the gay rights movement after the Stonewall Riot in June , in which a group of homosexuals defended themselves against a police raid on a bar in Greenwich Village, New York City. Stonewall marked the first large public event demanding equal rights and protections for homosexuals. The movements for civil rights for blacks, women, and other groups, and the tone of liberal thought in the late s and early s set in motion a wave of activism that saw the formation of groups and services specifically geared to gay men and lesbians as a community of interests. The activism of the early gay movement took many forms.