Letter from the Editor: Pride Marches On

Chris Azzopardi

As LGBTQ+ people across Michigan continue to celebrate our community out on the streets of big cities and small towns alike, another trans woman has been killed in Michigan. The loss of Ashia “Charm” Davis, just 34, is heart-wrenching. Davis joins the seemingly endless list of Black trans women tragically murdered across the country. Police are asking for help in tracking down a suspect.

The news conjures up an ever-present dichotomy when it comes to reporting in the LGBTQ+ space. How can we function as journalists with the looming cloud of persecution hovering over us? When trans people are being attacked for simply being who they are? And how do we feel and report on queer joy when pain is ever-present in the fight for not just LGBTQ+ rights and equality in our country but in the fight for our actual physical existence?

Our Pride Source/Between The Lines staff is wrestling with these often competing realities as we bring to you our latest issue, aptly titled Pride Marches On, out this week. Within those pages and here on our site, we have deliberately chosen to spotlight people in our community reacting to the current socio-political climate: drag queens currently experiencing unwarranted Republican-charged hostility, a trans essayist who may seek refuge from anti-trans legislation in Ohio by moving to Michigan and a wellspring of “radical queer revolution” about to unfold at Ann Arbor Summer Fest. Turn to page 14 to find photos depicting queer joy as a defiant act from Pride 40 years ago — reminders that Pride is rooted in a revolution.

And so, yes, four decades later, we march on.

Back in May, as our editorial team began to plan our Pride Marches On issue, we reflected on its underlying theme. Our conversations were backlit by many backward steps being taken across the nation. Florida’s governor and soon-to-be presidential candidate signed a slew of hateful legislation, Tennessee has sought to erase the art of drag, Texas and other states have banned affirming healthcare for trans minors, and Ohio continues to suffer an identity crisis, nearly topping HRC’s Municipal Equality Index while at the same time, its legislative body introduced over two hundred bills attacking the trans community this year.

Meanwhile, Michigan leads the nation as a state that is wrapping loving, protective arms around its LGBTQ+ community members, due in great part to decades-long work that culminated in March with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proudly signing the amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which has made, at long last, gender identity and sexual orientation protected classes in Michigan. And that’s not all — in May, bills were introduced in both the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan Senate that would essentially outlaw conversion therapy for minors across the state.

We recognize the efforts of our thankfully Democratic-led legislature and Gov. Whitmer, who has shown what true LGBTQ+ allyship means in our state with, especially this year, real action. We also want to express loving gratitude to our team of journalists at Between The Lines — their stories of our community’s triumphs and tragedies are the beating heart of our publication.

As for us, we both began working for Pride Source/BTL many years ago — Chris in 2006, and Benjamin in 2010 — and we both recognize the simple but profound power in sharing our stories in a world where it feels like those stories don’t matter. Especially now, we are acutely aware of how important it is to inform the community on the issues and tragedies that impact you, but we will also let some much-needed light wash across these pages, just as we have in the stories you’re about to read.

Joyful defiance. It’s a real thing. And as you march on this Pride season, when your feet hit the pavement and you’re proudly waving the flag in the name of all we have lost (and all we have gained), don’t forget it.

In solidarity and togetherness,

Benjamin and Chris