Motor City Pride is 'Stronger Together' This Year

Detroit Festival Joins in Solidarity with Equality March for Unity and Pride in D.C.

BY KATE OPALEWSKI

Motor City Pride is Michigan's largest Pride celebration with more than 40,000 participants in its Pride events. Dave Wait, event chair, said he is feeling "really good" about the festival this year June 10-11 at Hart Plaza in Detroit.

"A month or two ago there was a lot of uncertainty, but we have received calls from new companies and individuals who want to participate," he said. "It really sends a message that we're doing the right thing in bringing everyone together to celebrate and that people support the LGBTQ community."

Wait has been a driving force and the primary organizer of the volunteer-run organization for eight years. This year, Equality Michigan assisted MCP in founding its own non-profit status so the planning committee could concentrate on growing the festival, and to allow EQMI to concentrate on its core mission of victim services, education and policy work.

"In this transition year, Equality Michigan will continue to act as our fiduciary agent until we finalize our non-profit status with the IRS," said Wait about working closely with EQMI for the festival as this process takes time.

The celebration starts June 8 with a MCP kickoff party at 9 p.m. at HopCat on 4265 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.

There will be five stages of entertainment throughout the weekend featuring headliner Jennifer Holliday, presented by Delta Air Lines, and BenDeLaCreme, an American burlesque and drag performer known for her role on Season 6 of RuPaul's Drag Race. Wait said the organization invited several local musicians to join the lineup this year, like Sing OUT Detroit and Killer Flamingos, among others.

MCP will gather and pay respect to those lives lost to violence both within the Michigan LGBTQ community and globally including the 49 lives that were tragically lost at Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12 one year ago.

"It's a time of reflection," said Wait, adding that Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow from the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit in Ferndale will say a few words during a candlelit vigil at 8 p.m. on June 10. "We don't want it to be a service, but more of an opportunity for calming thoughts to remember those we've lost both in Orlando and locally, including the many trans women of color."

The vigil is open to everyone in the community who seeks peace and tolerance, and is free of charge to attend. Illumination devices will be provided as supplies permit.

As far as safety is concerned, Wait said, "We have a good plan," pointing to a recent press conference when Chief James Craig announced that the Detroit Police Department has geared up for the summer and is partnering with a network of security providers to offer extra protections for events happening in and around the city including MCP.

"It really makes me feel good that so many people are looking out for things happening in Detroit," he said.

As members of InterPride - the international organization that ties Pride together globally - MCP will host an Equality Rally at 12:30 p.m. on June 11 on the Pride Stage. Guest speakers from EQMI, Affirmations, the ACLU of Michigan, LGBT Detroit and the local chapter of GLSEN will attend.

"We are doing that in conjunction with the Equality March for Unity and Pride in D.C.," said Wait about the rally that coincides with more than 80 different events happening worldwide that day.

"We are also using this as a way to get people to think beyond the festival once a year, be aware of what's happening at higher levels more throughout the year - not everyone will become an activist - and to celebrate the progress we've made, but motivate folks to take action because there are still things we need to work towards for full protections for everybody."

This rally follows the MCP Parade at 11 a.m. on June 11. The theme for this year's parade is "Stronger Together."

Wait notes there will be two entrances open on Jefferson and Woodward this year, and another by the UAW-Ford National Programs Center. The riverfront gate will not be open.

MCP is committed to being greener and more sustainable also. The organization has partnered with Metropolis Cycles in Corktown to offer bicycle parking valet for people who want to ride their bikes to the festival.

If anyone is interested in volunteering for this event, visit the MCP website for details. Volunteers receive free admission, food vouchers and T-shirts, according to Wait.

View the Motor City Pride Guide online for more information regarding happenings at the festival.

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