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Ann Arbor Pride Prepares for Debut on Main Street, Keeps Spirit of Jim Toy Alive

2023 fest set for a post-Covid comeback on Aug. 5

Sarah Bricker Hunt

Ann Arbor Pride, set for Aug. 5 along Main Street, is getting back to its roots as one of the preeminent festivals focused on the local LGBTQ+ community. There’s a renewed focus on headlining entertainment, and organizers have been making an effort to involve the whole city in planning a weekend that promises a return to pre-Covid normalcy (with several nods to the wonderfully weird vibes unique to Michigan’s most liberal city). 

Pedro Coracides, assistant director for Ann Arbor Pride and secretary for the Jim Toy Community Center board of directors, has been working behind the scenes for months to get the festival ready. “There are a variety of reasons you’re noticing a renewed sense of enthusiasm,” he says. “It’s our first festival back in person since Covid. Like most aspects of life, we lost an opportunity to connect with others, and wanted this year to make up for that.”

The team has worked to bring Ann Arbor Pride to Main Street for the first year because, Coracides says, it’s an already vibrant district that felt like the ideal spot for the colorful, vibrant festival. 

 Jadein Black, Ann Arbor Pride entertainment director and popular local drag performer, put together a fresh lineup that includes big names like Heidi N Closet, a “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 8 contestant who also appeared in season 12’s “All Stars” installment. Heidi will share the stage with national drag performer Laganja Estranja in a show hosted by Black and Avalisa Davenport



Festivalgoers can experience a variety of musical entertainment throughout the day, as well, including performances by trans musician Baddie Brooks, Alise King, Out Loud Chorus, Redi Choi, Kayden Kendall and J. Santino. Unveiled Bellydance will also perform. 

Coracides says the organizers wanted to include a mix of acts and attractions appealing to a wide-ranging audience, including many family-friendly options like drag queen story times. The group worked closely with Main Street Ann Arbor to develop a Dine and Shop Guide featuring merchants that will donate portions of proceeds sold during the festival to Ann Arbor Pride and the Jim Toy Center. 

Toy’s legacy will be felt throughout Ann Arbor Pride, Coracides says. “Jim was ahead of his time with intersectionality,” he says. “He never saw the LGBTQ+ community as a monolith and advocated for queer folks across race and ethnicity, religion and other social identities. Our hope is to be welcoming and inclusive of various intersecting identities and needs for all who want to engage with the festival and through our work in the Center.”

Ann Arbor Pride is set for 12-9 p.m. on Aug. 5 along Main Street. Learn more at annarborpride.com.



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