Ferndale Pride is kicking off with a strong political statement, “I am not a second class citizen.” As part of fundraising for the documentary “Second Class Citizens,” filmmaker Ryan Yezak will be at Affirmations on May 31 from 7 pm. – 10 p.m. for a photoshoot and kick-off party. For $25 individuals can be photographed in the theme of the documentary – with a black shirt on black background with an American flag wrapped around their wrist. Multiple people can be in the shot for $20 each.
The money goes to help fund the documentary, which is currently halfway produced. In March Yezak raised $176,354 on Kickstarter towards the project and now his goal is to travel around the country, visiting every state to get people involved. Yezak, a California native who became outraged over the Prop 8 fights in his state, said this is his first visit to Michigan and he looks forward to attending Ferndale Pride on June 1 as well.
Several instances of discrimination prompted Yezak to produce the film. “Discrimination first hit me personally a couple of years ago when my former boss at MTV asked if I wanted to donate blood with her to help save the lives of tornado victims. I enthusiastically agreed until something in me signaled that I wouldn’t be able to. So I quickly did some Googling and found out that I was not allowed to donate my blood simply because I was gay. I had to explain to my boss, in front of my other colleagues, and it made me feel like I was part of a different species. It made me feel like I was lesser than a human being. And it was in that moment that I personally felt legalized discrimination and decided to do everything in my power to ensure no one else in our community would have to feel that way,” he said.
He also had a friend who faced expulsion from school for being gay. The documentary covers discrimination in many forms, including marriage, adoption, education, private organizations, religion, employment, donating blood, anti-bullying laws, housing, homelessness and the gay panic defense.
“I am not a second class citizen. You are not a second class citizen. Right now, the laws in place (and lack thereof) say that we are. Let’s change that,” Yezak said.
“I felt that two of the short feature postings that Ryan Yezak has posted on YouTube were very inspiring and I also thought it would be good to host a community activism event as an additional feature along with all of the other various Ferndale Pride happenings,” said Ferndale Pride volunteer Derek Pratley.
To participate in the photo shoot, come to Affirmations camera ready and wearing a black shirt. To learn more, visit the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/events/361140530654861/?fref=ts. For more on Ferndale Pride go to http://www.ferndalepride.org.