The 26th Annual Pride Banquet and Awards Ceremony honored new comers to the LGBT movement and remembered one of the fallen in an emotional ceremony June 21. About 100 people attended the dinner at the Ukrainian Cultural Center, making it the smallest Pride Banquet in recent years.
Oakland County Commissioner Craig Covey co-emceed the event he founded in 1986, and he noted that the Pride Banquet is the longest running LGBT event in southeast Michigan. David Garcia, executive director of Affirmations, co-emceed with Covey and the two of them kept the evening running smoothly and with lots of fun banter.
“OK – let me just get this out of the way. Vagina!” yelled Zach Bauer upon receiving the Unity Award. “If you can’t say it, you shouldn’t legislate it,” he said to cheers and laughter from the appreciative crowd. He was making reference to Lisa Brown (D-Ann Arbor), a Michigan House member who was censored for using the word vagina while objecting to an anti-choice bill. Bauer was honored for his work as executive director of the Kalamazoo Gay & Lesbian Resource Center.
The Media Award was presented to Stephanie Loveless, a transperson and publisher of Ferndale Friends. “Ferndale Friends is not a gay activist paper, but I believe it is a revolutionary act to claim your place in society,” she said.
Judy Lewis received the Volunteer Award. The litany of her volunteer work chronicled in the award presentation was staggering. “I want to thank my grandfather, who taught me the importance of giving back,” she said.
“I’m not sure why I am getting this award for something we should all just be doing anyway,” said Dave Garcia in accepting the Diversity and Inclusion Award. “Affirmations is a community center, and by definition ought to be open to everyone, so it’s no big deal that we have lots of diversity at the center.”
The longest ovation was given to Rev. Jim Lynch and Rev. Deb Dyset of the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit who honored the memory of the Rev. Mark Bidwell, the longtime pastor of MCCD who died in January. “We can choose how to remember Mark,” said Lynch. “He was not perfect, but he did so much good for so many people.”
Other award recipients included Dave Wait, chair of the Motor City Pride committee and treasurer of Equality Michigan, who received the Community Spirit Award. Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter received the Political Award, and Ryan Oliver received the Rising Star Award. Brian Lane received the Sports award for his work in organizing the 5K run at Ferndale Pride. Jan Craigie, who founded Women Together 30 years ago, received the Craig Covey Founder’s Award. David Halperin of the University of Michigan was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, but was not able to make the event.
The Pride Banquet was a collaborative project of Affirmations, the Forum Foundation, Just4Us, Renaissance Unity, MCC Detroit, the Older Adult Coalition, Dignity Detroit and Transgender Michigan.