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By Jim Larkin
It’s not an easy job putting on a weeklong event chock full of activities and educational workshops for gay and lesbian parents, but Greg Alan Gerrans of Douglas and others like him felt someone had to do it.
So when the Family Pride Coalition announced about six years ago that it could no longer put on Family Week in the Saugatuck/Douglas area, Gerrans and others formed Rainbow Families Great Lakes for the prime purpose of continuing Family Week, held July 12-18 this year.
“It’s our flagship event,” noted Gerrans. “It’s what we live for.”
The week attracts families from throughout the Midwest, with families coming from Kentucky, Missouri, Massachusetts and as far away as Seattle, Wash., but primarily from Michigan and states surrounding it.
“It allows parents to meet and network and allows children of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents to see families just like theirs,” Gerrans said.
“I’ve seen some kids here who look like they really don’t want to be here when they first come, but by the end of the week you seem them with a real sense of pride in family. It’s empowering for some of these kids.”
Described in RFGL online literature as “a family camp experience crossed with an educational convention” the weeklong event is financed by membership fees and other fundraising efforts and does not receive any grants. Its goals fit snugly with RFGL’s own vision of:
* Providing fun, engaging and well-rounded family-time activities;
* Creating a positive and safe place for children and youth;
* Educating and empowering through planned family-time activities;
* Forging and maintaining strong collaborative relationships
This year’s event drew about 60 families, which Gerrans said is down somewhat from last year – perhaps because of the economy and cost of gas – but up considerable from the approximate 30 families that initially attended Family Week.
The group has also sponsored a Spring Getaway and Family Fun Day in Ann Arbor, but Family Week remains its top event. Putting it on, said Gerrans, is a yearlong task that is time-consuming for he and his partner Greg Harvath, 45, and other volunteers like them
“We’re just a bunch of parents,” he said, “trying to do the best we can.”
Want to help?
Membership fees to Rainbow Families Great Lakes are $25 per individual and $35 per family. For more information on the organization, how to become a member, or how to donate, go to http://www.rfgl.org.