DETROIT – It’s that time of year again. The rainbow flag will be waving high over Hart Plaza when Motor City Pride comes to downtown Detroit June 11-12. The festival will be open Saturday from 1-8 p.m. and Sunday from noon-7.
“What I enjoy most is seeing how the festival brings a diverse group of individuals together to celebrate each other while working for equality for everyone in Michigan,” said Motor City Pride Chair David Wait. “The need to come together is just as important this year with the legislation that is happening around the country and the push back that the State Board of Education is getting for establishing equal protections for students in our schools.”
Michael Gipson, deputy director of Equality Michigan, the agency that produces Motor City Pride, agreed.
“While I know some people think that Prides are passe or no longer feel a need to have them, there’s still very much a need to show our political power and to show our solidarity and unity as a movement to those who would deny us our rights – and to each other.”
It’s also a way for Equality Michigan to reach the community directly, Gibson said.
“What I appreciate about Motor City Pride is the opportunity to engage our constituents about what it is that Equality Michigan is doing. I think it’s an opportunity to clarify what our policy priorities are and what we’re doing on the ground and it’s also an opportunity to register people to vote. And this year we definitely need everybody registered and voting. So I’m excited about those aspects of Motor City Pride.”
Sunday Pride Parade
One highlight of the weekend is the Pride parade, which takes place Sunday at noon. The parade starts at the corner of Fort and Griswold Streets and proceeds to Cobo Center and then back to Hart Plaza.
“Each year I look forward to the parade the most,” said Wait. “It moves me to see how it brings so many people together to show their support for the movement. The lineup continues to grow with new groups, organizations and companies that support our quest for equality.”
This year’s grand marshal is scheduled to be former Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, who many say is likely to run for governor in 2018. Whitmer was a member of the Michigan House of Representatives from 2000 to 2006. She became a member of the State Senate in March 2006 replacing Virg Bernero who was elected Mayor of Lansing. In 2010, Whitmer was chosen by her colleagues to be the Senate Democratic leader. Most recently, Whitmer was selected to replace Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III who was forced to resign after being arrested on prostitution charges.
Wait said the parade helps attract allies to the cause of LGBT equality.
“We have found that this is one of the best ways to build a connection with our allied community,” he said. “This will be the fifth year that we have brought the parade back. Both the participation and audience has grown each year. I have seen several parade applications from new groups and companies that we’ll be adding to this year’s parade lineup.”
Many undoubtedly come to Motor City Pride for the entertainment. Over 200 entertainers will perform on five different stages. Among them are Kim Chi, a runner-up on the just-ended season eight of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Adore Delano, who made the top three on season six and Jeffery Austin who finished in fourth place last year on The Voice. Other entertainers include Johnathan Celestin, a Washington, DC-based vocalist who has been featured in the touring company of several hit Broadway shows, R&B singer Shadina, Ann Arbor based vocalist and trans activist Jaimie Wilson, out country singer Steve Grand, dance duo Jason Maek & Zaena, Detroit soul singer Alise King, Toledo’s own Sam Tolson and the Sing OUT Detroit chorus.
“Just as we have a diverse community with a variety of interests, we do not bring just one headliner, we bring in a variety of acts – both national and local – that will appeal to the many different interests of the LGBT community,” said Wait. “The entertainment committee has been working hard to bring together a great mix of entertainers to perform at the festival.”