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By Craig Covey
After reading “Pride divided?” in the March 24 edition, I was disturbed by the reactions of some in our own community. In particular, people who have been around long enough to know that Pride celebrations in Michigan have evolved over the past 25 years. There are many folks who have only attended these gatherings since they were held in Ferndale because of their age and I can understand some of their concerns.
Folks like me and Craig Covey have been around a bit longer than this and I wonder why Mr. Covey is planning on staging not one, but two, marches on the same weekend of Pride in the city of Ferndale? This is in addition to the Dyke March, which has already been planned and organized. Now, I know that Craig takes great pride in the city of Ferndale and LGBT folks have long felt comfortable on the streets and in the businesses of the city. Craig is responsible for making much of that happen by being an outspoken advocate for LGBT people. But times change and water turns stagnant if it is not stirred up occasionally.
Think about this: Every year, since the very beginning of Pride celebrations in southeast Michigan, attendance has increased. Public parking within the city of Ferndale lots provides for less than 1,000 parking spaces. This means that patrons to any large-scale event (Pride, Dream Cruise, Art Festival, etc.) will take up street parking on residential streets, which negatively impacts the community. While I definitely appreciate the convenience of having Pride right next door to me, there are many who are not as thrilled (and, yes, they complain about the Dream Cruise and the Art Festival parking, too).
Moving to a larger scale, open-air venue is a great opportunity for Motor City Pride to continue to grow and develop more options to draw people in. A larger venue may provide the ability to solicit larger corporate sponsorships to help defray the costs associated with organizing the event. I can only wish them the very best of luck for a successful event. Instead of bashing these efforts or trying to undercut attendance, folks need to give the folks at Motor City Pride a chance and, even better, step up and give them a hand!
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the critical BTL editorial regarding Ferndale’s plans to celebrate GLBT pride this June. Our events are designed to add additional choices for our community to celebrate, and advocate for the very goals BTL mentioned in its editorial. We have had multiple discussions with Motor City Pride leaders, who encouraged us to look at Friday June 3rd – before the main pride in Hart Plaza – for Ferndale-based events. Indeed, over the past two months, we have talked with dozens of community groups, GLBT leaders, and businesses about potential plans. Rather than being “insular,” this demonstrates collaboration and communication.
Nothing that Ferndale Pride 2011 is organizing competes in any way with the Hart Plaza festival. We are encouraging all GLBT people and allies to attend the Motor City event. We wish that event total success.
BTL suggested that we plan pride events in Ferndale a different weekend, but June 3-5 is the weekend that folks travel from all over Michigan and Ohio to come to our region for pride. The previous weekend (in May) is Memorial Day, a time when we honor our soldiers, veterans and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. JUNE is the month we celebrate pride because of the history of our modern movement, and the original Stonewall Rebellion in New York City in June of 1969. The following weekend is our GLBT state parade in Lansing. Other weekends in June are when many local gay people travel to the big parades in neighboring cities, including Toronto, Chicago, and Columbus. By holding our Ferndale events on Friday, June 3, we can promote Motor City Pride the following day. We are also helping plan shuttles from Ferndale to Hart Plaza during this weekend. That could hardly be described as “divisive.”
Many of us have spent the better part of two decades creating a welcoming, safe, and affirming space for the GLBT community in Ferndale, and we have been recognized nationally for what we have done for diversity, acceptance, and progress. With more than 3,000 GLBT people living in this small city, as well as groups like Affirmations, Michigan AIDS Coalition, MCC Church, GLBT choruses, and dozens of gay-owned or supportive businesses, we have become a center for the GLBT community in Metro Detroit. How could we NOT have pride in this town?
Each year on St. Patrick’s Day, there are big Irish parades in Detroit, AND in Royal Oak, and in many other cities and towns in the region. The Irish don’t freak out about multiple parades; rather, they celebrate them all. The Arabic community each year holds its giant festival in Dearborn. The Mexican-American community holds its parades and festival in Southwest Detroit. The GLBT community is maturing and is growing stronger and more stable. The parades and marches and rallies that will occur in Ferndale will add to the pride in our region, and help empower the entire community.