Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
Detroit is struggling to rebuild itself, and the city needs all the help it can get. One large – and largely overlooked – resource is the city’s bustling lgbt community. The city’s leadership has missed an opportunity to enhance the area’s image and economic prosperity by not counting us in.
A prominent professor of urban planning at Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Richard Florida, has analyzed cities according to a “Coolness Index”; Detroit came in a tepid 39th out of 50 among the larger urban centers in America. One factor that pulled our fair city’s ranking down so far was our dismal score on gay issues – we scored a paltry 45th on the size, visibility and vitality of the lgbt community.
This should come as no surprise given the very cold shoulder that Detroit’s lgbt community gets from city leadership. Detroit’s leaders have done none of the basic things that other major cities have for their lgbt communities – such as offering city employees domestic partnership benefits, installing a specific staff person in the mayor’s office to act as a liaison, or encouraging business development and residential communities to target lgbt people.
It appears that Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s administration has either no thoughts about the lgbt community or operates in a reactive mode by having him appear at high-profile events a couple of times a year.
Other Midwestern cities – like Cleveland, Chicago, Columbus and Pittsburgh – have recreated their cities and used the resources of lgbt communities to do so. Developers and government leaders can do the same thing in Detroit if they will muster the courage and vision to think outside of the traditional patterns of enormous projects that yield marginal results within city neighborhoods.
In this issue’s BTL interview with David Farbman, president and CEO of The Farbman Group, he said he wants lgbt people to be involved in the renewal of Detroit and that he is willing to act as a broker with Mayor Kilpatrick to get Detroit’s lgbt community more integrated into the city’s fabric. We ought to take him up on his offer.
Detroit is full of potential and promise, and our city cannot afford to squander its potential by ignoring obvious resources. Detroit’s vibrant lgbt community operates below the radar of the city’s leadership. Detroit’s leaders should take heed of Dr. Florida’s analysis and reach out soon to the lgbt community – before it finds a better, more welcoming home elsewhere.