FERNDALE –The Ferndale Love March on Sunday brought together more than 1,000 people ready to take peaceful action following weeks of post-election community conversation about what to do next. During a recent discussion at Affirmations in Ferndale on Nov. 14, the one question people in attendance kept asking is “What do we do now?” Lilianna Reyes, program services director at the community center, explained to more than 100 people that this was the purpose of the gathering – to figure out how to take action. “In this space we are able to talk raw about our emotions and how we feel, then transition to action steps,” said Reyes, adding, “We will take notes and share your concerns with the organizations that we work with.”
The Community Speaks Out
Jeynce Poindexter, the transgender victims advocate for Equality Michigan, proposed the community start loving people and remember their faith. “Don’t give Trump more power than he deserves,” she said.
Pam Laity of Royal Oak spoke about her gay son who has been to every protest in New York City so far. “He said at the Trump Tower it was so loud with so many people there, the buildings were shaking. He knows we’re there, and I don’t think we should wait. We can’t wait and see. He has to hear our voice. He has to know we’re here and that we deserve our rights to be preserved … My beloved son knew he was gay when he was 4 and we raised him in a house to be proud of who he is and never use such definitive terms. And he grew up in West Michigan in the Bible Belt and it was a bitch. Let me tell you, he got bullied every day and I went to see the principal everyday and we moved over here so he’s safe. Now he’s a designer in New York City and he’s doing phenomenal. We have to fight to preserve what we already have. We can’t wait. Are we going to wait for him to put more Steve Bannons in office? Are we going to wait for him to surround himself with those people? We need to shake those damn buildings in NYC.”
Crissy Gardner of Madison Heights talks about experience of wearing a mask. She shared her feelings about being herself even though she is “scared and uncertain” about what her future holds.
“I feel betrayed and I feel angry. Two times in the last 16 years, the person who gets the most votes loses and we do nothing about it as Americans,” said Joe Fedorczyk of Farmington Hills. “The last two years, 1 million more votes went to Democratic congressmen than went to Republicans, but the Republicans get a super majority because of gerrymandering, which is legal, but it’s rigged. Then we have a Supreme Court justice who dies, the Senate denies the president to place someone on the Supreme Court and now the Supreme Court is being taken away from us and it’s all 100 percent legal. Now I can handle one and maybe I can stomach two, but all three branches of the government have been stolen and the one thing I agree with Trump on is that the system is fucking rigged. I am tired. I did not lose. I allowed myself to get screwed. This has been going on for years.”
Kristine Diven of Detroit said she is “going crazy. I haven’t made it two hours without crying in the last week. I am losing my mind, worried about other groups that are not necessarily being addressed. Our community, the LGBT community, is very, very important, but there are other groups that are going to get picked on that we should also protect. Muslim women who are having hijabs pulled off of them, and that really bothers me, and I wanted to represent that community and I’m really torn on how to do so. We have to find a way to let people know that, even if their group doesn’t represent us, we will not tolerate violence against them either.”
Donna Silk of Birmingham, a survivor of abuse, a heterosexual married woman and the mother of a gay son, came forward to share her support for the LGBT community as an ally.
Di Schuetzler of Royal Oak said, “When this first happened, I was embarrassed and ashamed to be an American. I was very angry because I couldn’t believe how people voted against the core values and principles that make up Americans.”
Melissa Farrell of Dearborn said she spent Nov. 9 in tears because “it feels like an immediate danger, like you said, it’s front burner, and not just because of the figurehead that we have decided to elect, but all of the things: the hatred that’s been spewed that has been allowed to be OK, and the things we’re hearing in the media about people being targeted and violence and aggression. It made it OK for a lot of people who needed one little excuse, so it’s not just about politics. Then there’s the everyday people in the communities who now feel that this is OK – that bullying, that prejudice. And then after the fear subsided a little bit comes the shame because not only do I know people that did this, but people who I also care about: other minority groups who are saying, ‘Welcome to the party, we’ve been afraid forever, thanks for just signing on.’ So I feel like there’s all the feelings,” said Melissa Farrell of Dearborn.
“I think, like a lot of people, I felt shocked that night. I even was so bold as to play video games thinking that Clinton would be elected and history would be made,” said Than Nguyen of Novi. “Watching the election unfold was too much. I woke up in fear, spent the whole day barely even able to collect myself. I took the day off work. I felt sadness … On Thursday, ready for the challenge, I felt like is my opportunity to stand up and do what’s right … I texted many people so they don’t feel like they’re alone. If anyone wants to harm you, I will stand up for you and do what I can. I felt like finally, today, I can feel like there’s hope and opportunity for all of us to sit down with one another. Speak up for one another, stop this arguing — we’ve endured before.”
Where to Seek Assistance
Between The Lines has compiled a list of contacts in Michigan where members of the community can access support and find answers to their questions about transgender name changes, second-parent adoptions, and how their civil rights might be affected in the days, weeks and months ahead. Anyone interested in being more progressive and proactive can contact the following local organizations.
Nonprofit organization serving African-American LGBT population of Detroit, and nearby communities.
20025 Greenfield Road
Detroit, MI 48235-1804
ACLU of Michigan
The ACLU fights for civil liberties in the courts, in Congress and at the grassroots level to defend the Constitution wherever it is threatened.
2966 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201
Michigan’s anti-violence and advocacy organization proudly serving the LGBTQ and HIV affected communities for more than 20 years.
19641 W. Seven Mile Road
Detroit, MI 48219
Know Your Rights Project
Jim Toy Community Center
319 Braun Court
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Ruth Ellis Center
A youth social services agency with a mission to provide a short-term and long-term residential safe space and support services for runaway, homeless and at-risk LGBTQ youth.
77 Victor St.
Highland Park, MI 48203
Provides advocacy, support and education while serving to create coalitions in the state of Michigan to unify and empower transgender and gender non-conformist communities.
23211 Woodward Ave. #309
Ferndale, MI 48220
Dedicated to advocacy, education and outreach regarding LGBTQ and men’s and women’s civil rights in Michigan.
P.O. Box 6136
Plymouth, MI 48170
Trans Sistas of Color
Works to uplift, influence and impact the lives and well-being of trans women of color in Metro Detroit through trans-centric programming, services, resources and community building efforts.
19641 W. Seven Mile Road
Detroit, MI 48219
313-537-7000 Ext 107
Transcend the Binary
Mission is to secure access to trans* affirmative care, resources and services for their clients.
290 W. Nine Mile Road
Ferndale, MI 48220
Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services.
2651 Saulino Court
Dearborn, MI 48120
Combats anti-Semitism and bigotry of all kinds in Michigan.
P.O. Box 252166
West Bloomfield, MI 48325-2166
290 W. Nine Mild Rd.
Ferndale, MI 48220
To connect with local community centers throughout the state of Michigan, visit the BTL Yellow Pages at www.pridesource.com.