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OUTFest Celebration Returns To Braun Court

By | 2012-09-13T09:00:00-04:00 September 13th, 2012|Entertainment|

The 18th OUTFest returns to Ann Arbor’s history Kerrytown District Saturday, Sept. 29 with a multiplicity of activities and entertainment for LGBT and allied community of Washtenaw.
This annual celebration begins in the evening at Braun Court, across from the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market. This year’s event will spill into both the Braun Court parking lot as well as the block of N. Fourth Avenue between Catherine Street and E. Kingsley.
OUTFest is a longstanding tradition of Braun Court, in honor of National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. Organizers decided to move the event into September to avoid October’s often unforgiving weather.
But the goal of the festival remains unchanged: “National Coming Out Day is so important because it encourages people, young and old, to come out as LGBT, ally, queer or questioning” explains OUTFest Committee Co-Chair Ashley Schwedt. “But what is most vital about celebrations like OUTfest is that people are literally coming out into a community that already supports and affirms who they are.”
The celebration includes music, dancing, entertainers, food, a beer tent, the Grassroots stage with local musicians, speakers, representatives of political campaigns, non-profit information tables, a children’s play area, raffles and a Necto-sponsored Dance Pavilion with DJ Mark Johnson.
Ann Arbor’s own Abigail Stauffer will perform on the festival’s Grassroots Stage, bringing her unique sound, influenced by musicians such as Sufjan Stevens, Regina Spektor and Iron & Wine.
In addition to the restaurants within Braun Court, event sponsor Mark’s Carts will be parking a number of food carts within the court, bringing a unique dining experience to the festival.
OUTFest began as a project of Jim Toy Community Center in 1995. The Jim Toy Community Center is a resource for the LGBT residents of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and greater Washtenaw County seeking to provide information, education, social events and advocacy for the community. Previously the Washtenaw Rainbow Action Project, the center was renamed after Jim Toy in December 2010, in recognition of the renowned activist’s enormous contribution to the city’s LGBT community.
Since its conception, JTCC’s OUTFest has been hosted and produced with the assistance of aut BAR co-owners Martin Contreras and Keith Orr, large supporters of the center. This year, a new batch of volunteers are organizing this annual community celebration.
“OUTFest 2012 has been put together by a dynamic mix of community members and allies from almost every generation,” explains OUTFest Co-Chair Jeff May. “Whether you are an old stalwart of the community or someone who is just finding your voice, the diversity of ideas and activities featured this year are going to be a fantastic way for all of us to come together and celebrate who we are.”
“This festival is a wonderful opportunity for the LGBT community to enhance its presence in this progressive city,” says communications volunteer Benjamin Jenkins. “Ann Arbor has a fantastic legacy as a hub for the LGBT community; I can’t imagine this event will be anything short of a blast!”
OUTFest 2012 is 5 p.m. to midnight, Sept. 29 at Braun Court in Ann Arbor. This event is free and open to the public, though a small fee is necessary for access to the celebration’s beer tent. For more information, visit or search Facebook for “Jim Toy Community Center”.
For sponsorship information, email Terry McGinn at or call 734-834-0598.
Volunteers are still needed to help with setup, decorating, check-in, etc. To sign up to volunteer, contact Ashley Schwedt at

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Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.