Affirmations LGBTQ+ Center to Call Ringwald Theatre and MCC Detroit Home, Among Other Updates

By |2021-06-04T10:29:04-04:00June 3rd, 2021|Michigan, News|

Its doors haven’t been opened back up to the public yet, but big things are happening at Affirmations. In a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday, Affirmations Executive Director Dave Garcia shared some exciting news about the center’s future.

First off, a couple of new groups will be calling Affirmations home. Ferndale’s popular Ringwald Theatre is moving to the center and all of the theater’s productions will now take place there. Also moving to Affirmations is Metropolitan Community Church — Detroit. Though the church called Ferndale home base for many years, for the past few years it had been sharing space with a Methodist church in Clawson.

“COVID-19 has shown us that the church is not a building,” said the Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow, the church’s senior minister and teacher. “We have been looking for a permanent space ever since we left Ferndale. There are some places we can afford but they’re either in Pontiac or Dearborn. So it’s not in the preferred area that our membership stated.”

Talks about moving to the center had been ongoing for some time.

“Dave Garcia actually reached out to us right before COVID, and, at that point in time, I was a little unsure that being in the community center would fit us well. But it really has changed and I think this is the most perfect place for us to be,” Stringfellow said. “We want to be more connected to the community and being at Affirmations we’ll be feet from the street so we’re excited about the kind of outreach we can provide and being more integrated with the community than we have been in the past.”

In other center news, and there’s still plenty of it, Affirmations plans to reopen its doors to the public this summer.

“We are preparing for a back to normal open for the community, Aug. 1,” Garcia said. “Now, in July, we will be open for appointments only. And we have the telethon on June 26, which is a big deal. It will be our second telethon. We want to wait until after the telethon to start a broader opening. We have to get all of the volunteers ready for the front desk. There’s a lot to do before we start back normal.”

Garcia also announced that for the first time, the board will have co-chairs.

“When I got back from Los Angeles in 2019, we changed the bylaws to make it possible that, if we wanted, we could have co-chairs of the board,” Garcia said. “We don’t have to. We just made it possible so that we have the option in our bylaws to do so.”

The board decided to exercise that option and now Brianna Yuille and Anthony Sherman will be the new co-chairs. Donnie Johnson will also be the treasurer.

When the center reopens, it will also be with a licensed master social worker on staff.

“We’ve secured funding to hire an LMSW that will actually be on our payroll and be able to take insurance so that anyone will be able to see a therapist,” Garcia said. “This is a part of our health and human services expansion.”

And finally, Affirmations is bringing back the party.

“We are going to go ahead with the black-tie event, the Big Bash, on October 30 at the Dearborn Inn Marriott,” Garcia said. “We are going to move forward as if we will be able to have 500 people at the Marriott in late October. Worst-case scenario, there’s a new variant or it isn’t safe, we will refund everyone’s money. But we have to start planning now if we’re going to make it happen.”

The center will also once again host a wine party in December. The event will double as a retirement party for former Between The Lines co-publishers Susan Horowitz and Jan Stevenson.

Learn more about the center at goaffirmations.org.

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael joined Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. He has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author for his authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," released on his own JAM Books imprint.