FERNDALE – Ferndale’s annual celebration of love and diversity for the LGBTQ community – Ferndale Pride – is not just an event that brings people together. It’s an event that raises money for local charities. And this year $11,000 was given to groups that make a difference in the community.
On Monday Ferndale Pride organizer Julia Music presented checks to Affirmations Community Center, Matrix MAC Health, Transgender Michigan and GNA – Gender Identity Network Alliance. The Ferndale Community Foundation, who is the fiduciary for the event, also received funds.
“The check will go a long way to providing helpline services to people around the country and beyond,” said Rachel Crandall Crocker executive director of Transgender Michigan. Transgender Michigan runs a hotline for those with questions about transgender issues or who need support.
They also host events like Transgender Pride in the Park. “I’ve been really honored to watch it grow over the years,” Music said, making it the largest gathering of transgender people in Michigan.
Matrix MAC Health provides the services of a volunteer coordinator to help with Ferndale Pride. Monica Mills organized about 100 people who did tasks from setting up booths, monitoring security, distributing information, assisting performers and vendors, and cleaning up. “It’s exciting, meeting more and more people,” Mills said. “It’s an opportunity for blumz_holidayvolunteers to meet other people who are interested in the same missions. Volunteers can also be grateful that money raised from Ferndale Pride goes back into the community.”
Matrix MAC Health serves the community with HIV testing, prevention and services for people living with HIV or AIDS.
GINA also works to uplift people regardless of their gender identity. Music talked about going to Transgender Day of Empowerment, which was held at Affirmations and hosted by GINA. “Every year I think I know everything, and every year I walk away realizing I know nothing.” In an interview after the presentation Music added that the quality of speakers at Day of Empowerment were “amazing and inspiring.”
Ferndale Pride began in 2011 when Motor City Pride relocated their event to Hart Plaza in Detroit. The Ferndale event grows each year, with a variety of musical performances, activism opportunities, and involvement from the business community. This year’s Ferndale Pride included legal same-sex marriages for the first time, performed by Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter.
The event also specifically had opportunities to show that transgender people are welcomed in light of more general public discussions including debates over bathroom laws, prominent transgender people in pop culture, and the debate over whether to include gender identity and expression in the state’s civil rights laws. “Pride is a safe place where all people are welcomed. Ferndale Pride wants trans and gender nonconforming people to feel the love and respect they deserve as individuals,” Music said.
Greg Pawlica, treasurer of Ferndale Community Foundation said “Ferndale Pride is important to our city because it brings all that is great about Ferndale together to celebrate our uniqueness! It is our acceptance and celebration of our differences that make us stronger. Part of the mission of the Ferndale Community Foundation is to serve the people of Ferndale and build community partnerships. What better way to do this than by being an integral part of one of the most diverse events in Ferndale?”