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When Charles Pugh announced his run for Detroit City Council in April of this year, we at Between The Lines admit: We got a little giddy.
Not only has Pugh long been an icon in Michigan’s gay community, but he’s just a really nice, down-to-earth guy. He has hung out at Hotter Than July events, served as MC at award dinners and moderated panels on HIV/AIDS – and he did a lot of this long before he was vying for our votes.
On Friday, July 24, Detroit’s LGBT community got some news for which giddy was an understatement. Charles Pugh not only stands a good chance to be elected to city council – he is in the lead. In a poll conducted by Inside Michigan Politics and released by Fox 2 news (Pugh’s former stomping ground), the first-ever openly gay candidate came out first on voters’ lists, just ahead of Ken Cockrel Jr. If this trend stays true until November, Pugh stands poised to be the next president of Detroit City Council.
This is not just exciting for the reasons you might think, i.e. that he’ll support our causes in city council. Here’s why there’s more to it than that.
Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had his anti-gay moments, including a very hurtful comment he made concerning the fact that he didn’t want gays near his kids.
However, the council – and now, Mayor Dave Bing – have been generally supportive of the community. They come to our events, they want our votes and they value our input. They know we are a part of Detroit. Eight out of nine (with the exception of Kwame Kenyatta) voted in favor of the ordinance that protects LGBT people from discrimination in housing, employment and public services in Detroit.
Other candidates being voted on in Aug. 4’s primary election are LGBT-supportive, too, including Cockrel, Annivory Calvert, Saunteel Jenkins and others. After the passing of the ordinance, Cockrel even said, “Detroit is a welcoming city, and all of our policies must reflect this openness and commitment to social justice.”
We at BTL are confident that whomever is elected to city council will be supportive of our rights – or at least if they’re not, they’ll be outnumbered by our allies.
While it will be great to have an openly gay man on city council for his political power, it’s not entirely necessary to win our battles and push forward on our issues in the city and state. We still have many friends, even without Pugh.
So then why is his election and possible city council presidency such a huge deal?
Because he’s making history. Because we love him as a member of our community. Because we can be proud.
The election of Charles Pugh – and our many other allies – to Detroit City Council and other local offices will offer wins for us politically and socially. Pugh paved roads for black, gay Detroiters when he came out as a well-liked and respected media personally. Now, let’s cheer him on and vote him in (along with eight other LGBT-supportive candidates) as he makes history again.