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A crowd of more than 100 showed up Wednesday, June 5, to watch the LGBT Pride flag be raised in Spirit Plaza just outside the Coleman A. Young Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in downtown Detroit. The flag, which will be flown throughout the month, moved this year to the plaza from across the street in Hart Plaza where it has flown the past two years.
The move to just outside the Municipal Center is “a great symbol of support for our community,” said Dave Wait, chair of Motor City Pride, which takes place this weekend. “Our goal for the festival is to show that Detroit and southeastern Michigan is a great place to live, work and raise our families.”
That message was also shared by Detroit Deputy Mayor and Police Chief James Craig who spoke to the crowd on behalf of Mayor Michael Duggan.
“We are committed to being an inclusive city where everyone in our community matters no matter what race, ethnicity, gender or orientation,” he said. “Mayor Duggan’s administration has let it be known that anyone and everyone who wants to live, work, invest and help Detroit continue to grow is welcome.”
Charity Dean, director of civil rights inclusion and opportunity for the city of Detroit, spoke about the city’s long history of supporting LGBTQ rights. Detroit first passed a human rights ordinance to protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination in 1979. In 2008 the ordinance was amended to include gender identity and expression.
“The city of Detroit has been a leader in ensuring that everyone – gay or straight, transgender or cisgender – is welcome to work, love and play in this great city,” Dean said. “We are hopeful that other cities and the state of Michigan will follow our lead and expand the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for everyone and prohibit discrimination on the basis of the sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. We are so excited to raise the Pride flag today and show the rest of the state that we are proud of our efforts and we stand behind our LGBTQ family as we continue the struggle for equality.”
Detroit Police Cpl. Dani Woods, the Detroit Police Department’s LGBT liaison, was the last to speak at the brief ceremony.
“I would like to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Stonewall,” Woods said. “A lot of people don’t know that it was a trans woman of color that threw that first brick. So, I’m standing here today as a person who is following in those same footsteps fighting for equality and ensuring the safety of our community.
“Today, I challenge everyone to get involved, be involved,” Woods continued. “The chief always says be a part of the solution. Today I challenge you all to be a part of the solution, to celebrate Stonewall, to celebrate Pride and to look out for each other because our LGBTQ youth need us.”
Here’s some of BTL’s coverage of the event. All photos by Tih Penfil: