Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who led Sunday’s Motor City Pride parade in Detroit, has been one of Michigan’s biggest LGBTQ+ allies. Along with Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, she officially proclaimed June as Pride Month. That same month she demanded the Republican-controlled Michigan legislature pass a law prohibiting “conversion therapy” from being practiced on minors in the state and issued an executive order banning the use of state funds for the practice. And at Sunday’s parade, she affirmed her allyship to Pridegoers, telling them, “We stand strong.” Then: “I love you.”
For Whitmer, LGBTQ+ affirmation is not just lip service — it’s personal. In an exclusive interview from Motor City Pride, Whitmer spoke with Pride Source about her approach to LGBTQ+ allyship as the governor and as someone who values the LGBTQ+ people in her personal life.
“It was a gay cousin who a lot of people in the family weren’t quite sure how to reach, what to do,” Whitmer told Pride Source before the parade. “It was seeing that that really made me feel like I’ve got to be a proactive ally, not just one that wishes others well. I want to be a part of making it better.”
Whitmer said like others, she has many friends and relatives in the LGBTQ+ community. But as the highest-ranking elected official in the state of Michigan, she understands that with great power comes great responsibility, especially when it comes to LGBTQ+ equality.
“I think understanding and appreciating the incredible work that has happened in the community to get toward equity but how much there is yet to do — it’s personal when you know and love someone who’s a member of the community,” she said. “So, for me, that happened early on in life. I’ve been proud to be an ally, and as more loved ones and friends have continued to help my education and make me a better ally, that’s what I hope to be. Always.”