LANSING – The 2013 Pride season’s grand finale is coming Aug. 24 as people from all around the state converge on the state capitol for the march, rally and festival that is Michigan Pride.
Organizers selected the Aug. 24 dates so as not to compete with the many local Pride events taking place throughout the state. Event Chairperson Emily Hovarth explained, “There’s no way to have it in June without conflicting with other events. We think it’s important that people come to their statewide event, and that as many people come to the capitol at once as possible. People shouldn’t have to choose between their local Pride and this. Twenty years ago, this problem didn’t exist, and it’s great.”
The most distinctive part of the event is the march, which starts at Adado Riverfront Park, with participants gathering at noon and marching to the capitol steps at 1 p.m. “We’re coming off the energy of the marriage decision and it’s time to come to the capitol and be part of a big rally that will be really inspiring,” Hovarth said. “I’ve been going to the rally at the capitol for a number of years, and I always wondered if it does any good, if the politicians are listening. This is our 24th year of the march and finally we know that it is making a difference. There has been progress. There have been three or four legislators that have introduced legislation for LGBT families. They’re not just giving us lip service, they’re taking a stand. And this is our chance to come together and show how many people this matters to. This year they are listening.”
The march and subsequent festivities will be led by Ross Matthews, who is known as “Ross the Intern” by his fans. Ross the Intern started out his career as an intern on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and has gone on to make regular appearances on Celebrity Fit Club, The Insider and Chelsea Lately. Ross is gay, and has written a book about his experience going from a small-town closeted kid and celebrity fan, to being famous himself. The book is called Man Up!: Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence, and it’s promoted as “a mission statement for anyone who doesn’t fit the mold.”
Matthews was chosen by Michigan Pride because of his pop culture appeal. “He brings in a young audience, but he also has something to say,” Hovarth said. “He’s got entertainment as well as insight, and this event is about both.”
While the march is a serious statement about the need for equality, many of the Michigan Pride events are done with a fun and community-building mindset. Following the march will be a mass commitment ceremony on the steps of the capitol, performed by Rev. Kent Lederer of Unity of Greater Lansing. There is no fee for the ceremony, though donations are accepted. The Diversity Festival takes place in Old Town and goes until 11 p.m. The cost to attend is $5, giving access to several Michigan-based bands, a family fun area, food and vendors and a 21+ beverage tent. LGBT organizations will be on hand to recruit volunteers and let people know how they can get involved in the growing movement towards equality in this state.