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Editor’s Note: Contributor Charles Alexander fell ill last week and was unable to provide his usual weekly Parting Glances Column. This selection was chosen in honor of Pride month and Stonewall’s 50th Anniversary. Everyone at Between The Lines wishes Alexander a speedy recovery.
“Gay is good. You are not alone.” This was the slogan when the Affirmations LGBT Center opened its doors in Ferndale more than 20 years ago.
It was a bold statement to make at the time: reassurance for many cautious, confused, isolated young people in need of understanding, trained organizational support and a place to hang out.
I had almost forgotten these long-ago welcoming words. The slogan is not used very much these days; if at all. Truth of the matter, it’s now both evident and obvious thanks to Affirmations’ year-round presence and multifaceted LGBTQ services to our rainbow community.
That famed slogan was demonstrated in a big way recently on Saturday, June 2, for the 2018 Ferndale Pride event. This year, it took place along 9 Mile from Woodward Avenue to Livernois, and attracted over 10,000 participants, LGBTQ celebrants, allies, parents with children and well-groomed, well-behaved pets (for what it’s worth, there were no Bible-thumpers lurking about, offering to pray for anyone wishing to change sexual orientation from LGBTQ to straight, and just maybe, straight to LGBTQ, now that the pope has given his seemingly worldwide religious sanction of one man’s gayness).
I don’t know the exact number of such pride events I’ve attended over the past 10 years. Let’s say five per year, depending upon day and time — including Chicago, Royal Oak, Ferndale and Motor City Pride — but invariably at some point I’m visibly moved to tearful celebration, inward and occasionally outward.
I came out decades ago when we honestly had nothing much special to be proud of. Except our closeted friendships.
I attended Ferndale Pride with my good friends, Gordon Price and Ron Miotke, partners now for over 20 years (Ron provided strong, sustained leadership services to the Triangle Foundation along with Jeffery Montgomery. For Ron and Gordon it was another opportunity to celebrate their shared gay life by once more in public holding hands as they walked together).
At my age I can only do so much walking before getting quickly fatigued, so as Ron and Gordon walked the extra blocks of this year’s Ferndale Pride event, I decided to sit and rest a bit at the Affirmations LGBTQ Center.
When I sat down, it was half an hour before the pride prom was to begin there. I borrowed a chair from a SAGE table that was being disassembled, and took visual notes. Seniors making space for rainbow youth.
Through the doors and past me came many happy, excited young gays, lesbians and trans youth. I knew they were happy to be there. There was such evident joy. Such a sense of belonging. With many, too, were their parents.
Supportive. Happy that their children, their teen gay sons and lesbian daughters and children in transition had opportunity for the start of fulfilling lives, careers and loving partnerships.
Thank you, Ferndale Pride! Thank you Motor City Pride! Thanks to the hundreds of 2018 Prides across America! Special thanks to Affirmations! Gay is Good! You are indeed Not Alone!