By John Corvino
This column was due before Motor City Pride in Ferndale, even though the paper in which you’re reading it wasn’t published until several days afterwards. But heck – why should Mitch Albom be the only columnist who tries to predict the future? So let me pretend that I’ve already been there and tell you what happened:
Throngs of people gathered, most of them wearing brightly colored (and hideously ugly) t-shirts. I sometimes think that an employee at a really tacky t-shirt company has been sleeping around with reps from most of our major GLBT organizations. There’s really no other explanation. (Either that or Carson Kressley designs them.)
The occasional rain didn’t spoil the fun, though it did make for a couple of soggy drag queens. A frightful sight, indeed. Have you every tried to walk in wet pantyhose?
The optimists said, “Isn’t it great to have all these gay people in one place, strolling about openly and enjoying the day?”
The pessimists said, “This is so lame compared to [pick one: Chicago/Toronto/New York] Pride.”
Quick fact: did you know that this year Los Angeles Pride has chosen Paris Hilton – Paris Hilton! – to be the grand marshal of their parade? I almost took a job in Los Angeles a number of years ago. Facts like that make me very glad that I stayed in Michigan.
Back to Motor City Pride: Charles Alexander was there, offering witty aphorisms to passersby. Joe Kort was hawking books. Jeff Montgomery and Sean Kosofsky gave interminably long speeches. (I love them all, and you should too.)
Many people nodded appreciatively at Allan Gilmour, the retired openly gay Chief Financial Officer at Ford Motor Company. The right-wing American Family Association recently announced a boycott of Ford because of its pro-gay policies, which include a non-discrimination policy, domestic-partner benefits, and generous financial support of gay-rights causes (including events such as Motor City Pride).
In response to the boycott, Ford Motor Company told the AFA to go screw themselves.
Actually, the exact words, from vice president of human resources Joe Laymon to the Detroit News, were, “Ford values all people, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and cultural or physical differences.” I suppose that’s a nicer way of saying it. (Write to Ford to thank them via their website at http://www.ford.com/en/support/contactUs.htm.)
I personally ran into about three-dozen people whose names I couldn’t remember, and so I addressed them with, “Hey, gorgeous!” even if they weren’t.
[Note to the reader: if I said “Hey, gorgeous!” to you, I really meant it that time.]
Martha Wash belted as only Martha Wash can. Martika elicited vague recognition (“What ever happened to her?”) Local treasure Barbara Payton rocked 9 Mile.
Trixie Deluxxe had two-dozen costume changes. Thank goodness for Maybelline melt-proof mascara.
Mayor Porter of Ferndale walked proudly through the crowd. Mayor Kilpatrick of Detroit did not (although I kept watching for a red Lincoln Navigator with a rainbow sticker).
Ferndale Councilman Craig Covey’s t-shirt was two sizes too small (but with that upper body, who can blame him?). A gaggle of good-looking young men accompanied him. [Note to self: get pointers from Craig.]
Detroit City Councilwoman and mayoral hopeful Sharon McPhail showed up and was ignored by the largely suburban crowd. (Please remember: the health and reputation of Detroit affects the health and reputation of the region.)
Cheerful volunteers collected money for the many important organizations that educate, serve, and fight for our community. Some attendees gave donations and received stickers to put on their brightly colored t-shirts. A few invented creative ways to place the stickers (at least, they seemed creative at the time).
Other attendees ignored the hardworking volunteers, and when they were asked for money, lied: “I just mailed you guys a check.”
If you are one of those GLBT people who never gives a dime (or volunteer time) to GLBT charities, either start doing so or stop reading this newspaper. You know who you are.
Meanwhile, other volunteers handed out flyers and postcards, 85 percent of which ended up on the ground.
People shopped at Just for Us and the soon-to-be-closed A Woman’s Prerogative. (We love you Amy!) They dined at Como’s and Via Nove. They drank (sometimes too much) at Soho and Q. Some exchanged phone numbers; a smaller number actually used them later. (The truth hurts.)
Some timid young people ventured to Pride for their first time. Some timid older people did, too. They thought to themselves, “Wow, some of these people seem just like me.” And they felt good about that.
Swarms of gorgeous men approached me and asked me for my autograph. And my phone number. [Note to Mitch Albom: If you’re going to make stuff up, you might as well go for broke.]
By John Corvino