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By Roland Leggett
Eye on Equality
This is the time of year that I start to get nervous. We all know what’s coming and there is nothing that we can do to stop it… winter is on its way. One of the best ways that I can think of to get my mind off of the impending snowmagedon that will be here in just a few months is to think of how great summer has been. I get butterflies in my stomach at the start of every summer. Thoughts of relaxing vacations, beautiful weather and quality time with friends and family fill my mind. By late spring I can’t wait to say goodbye to itchy sweaters and bulky coats. There is, of course, another reason that I get excited for the weather to warm: Pride month! It is without a doubt one of my favorite times of year.
I remember my first Motor City Pride in the parking deck of Oakland Community College in Royal Oak in 1998. We’ve come a long way since then and it’s incredible to see how much Pride month has expanded both here in Michigan and nationally. I’d almost say that it’s becoming something of a national tradition. Enough, that is, for President Obama to sign an official proclamation making June LGBT pride month. As we’ve expanded we’ve also developed new relationships within our own community. This past summer we came together to celebrate Pride in the heart of downtown Detroit. More than 44,000 people came to Hart Plaza in what can only be described as the biggest and baddest Motor City Pride to date. A month later, Equality Michigan partnered with Black Pride Society and other LGBT organizations for yet another successful and inspiring Hotter Than July. As our Pride month continues to expand, so too must our resolve to work together to bring equality home here in Michigan.
All of the inspiring events of this past summer have given me a new sense of pride. In past years, I was always moved by what happened on the day of Pride. The crowds, the events and the visibility of our community meant the world to me. This year, however, watching our community come together was what inspired me the most. I often say that if we’re going to realize full equality here in Michigan, we must remember that we’re either getting there together as a community or not at all. So the question remains as summer winds down: how do we sustain the momentum that we’ve built over the last few months? This answer is simple: get involved!
Give your local LGBT community center a ring and see if they need help a few times a month. Join the planning committee for your local Pride festival for next summer. And, of course, Equality Michigan is always looking for new volunteers. It’s up to all of us to make sure that the good work continues.
So while our days on the beach, sunny vacations and lazy afternoons by the pool may be numbered, we’ve still got a lot of work to do. I invite you to join me in moving Michigan forward. Let’s show everyone our new sense of Pride by working together to bring full equality to our great state. And don’t forget – it may not seem like it now, but Pride 2012 is just around the corner.