by Jessica Carreras
Monique Goch is 40 years old – with the energy of a teenager drinking too much Red Bull. The Michigan Pride outreach coordinator, head of Suits and the City, Michigan Equality board member and activist has a hand in almost every major LGBT event that happens in her hometown of Lansing, from Pride events to rallies to fundraisers. Now, she just has to make it through Michigan Pride weekend and maybe she can take a break. But it’s not likely.
1) You’re part of several different organizations and efforts in Lansing. Why stay so involved?
I have to be involved – I live and work in Michigan! I want my community to have opportunities for everyone – gay, straight – whatever. I feel we have a responsibility to stand up for what we believe in, and I’m fortunate to have found my voice through community action. So why do I stay involved? It comes naturally, honestly. One thing led to another – first Suits and the City, then Michigan Pride and now Michigan Equality. Getting involved has made me realize how much I truly enjoy this kind of work.
2) You’re also an insurance agent by day. What’s more important – being an out person at your workplace or being vocal in the community?
Both are equally important. However, being an insurance agent is what I do. Being gay is what I am. I’m a human being, not a human doing – so it’s far more important for me to be vocal in the community in a positive way than to stand idly by and wait for change to happen. I am a reflection of our community, so being out and vocal in all aspects of my life shows others that it’s possible and our right to be who we are. I’m thankful to many people for showing me the way.
3) Why were you brought on as Outreach Coordinator for Michigan Pride
Candice Risner, the senior co-chair of Michigan Pride, asked me to step on board to offer my assistance. Michigan Pride needed representation in Lansing and someone who could help create alliances and bridge broken ties with other community organizations and individuals. Because of my involvement with Suits, my business networking contacts and my sales background, I was an ideal candidate to help cultivate new energy. First thing I did was create an Outreach Subcommittee and partner up with Julie Powers at Michigan Equality. Together, we organized the First Annual Pride Brunch Fundraiser. The success of that event provided the momentum Michigan Pride needed to truly unite volunteers, sponsors, supporters and allies required to put on a successful Pride festival.
4) What are you most excited for in the upcoming Michigan Pride?
Where should I start? The outpouring of community support to build and sustain our festival has been tremendous! We have three days packed with events! From the Michigan Equality fundraiser and Pre-Pride White Party on Friday night to the festival, march and rally on Saturday to the T-Dance and Wine Tasting and LAAN food drive events on Sunday! So many LGBTQ organizations and allied businesses have partnered up with Michigan Pride to make this year a diverse and unique weekend! I’m really looking forward to seeing the faces of the people for whom this is their first Pride. I’m proud to be a part of that experience. Michigan Pride Festival was actually the first pride event I ever attended after my coming out in 1996.
5) Why do you think Suits and the City is an important organization
to have in Lansing?
Lansing is an incredible community, balancing state government, the university, manufacturing, non-profits – there is so much going on. Suits and the City provides a venue – a time when LGBTQA professionals can come together and network with our allies and supporters. We’re non-political and entirely focused on celebrating the diversity that is in Lansing. Every month, our event is hosted at a different locale because we believe in supporting local businesses. It’s important for our city and state to see the LGBTQ community in a professional, social setting. We’re all about ending the stereotypes and by getting together each month, we let everyone know that our members are educated, successful, dynamic residents of the Lansing area. Our membership has grown far past Lansing now, we have guests coming from all over Michigan.
Want more info to gear up for Michigan Pride? Visit http://www.michiganpride.org.