LGBT Detroit, the city's premier black LGBTQ service provider is hosting a series of events in the week leading up to Election Day to help increase voter turnout and educate voters on the candidates running for office this election cycle. This final Get Out the Vote run-up is part of the Pride Decides 2020 project of the agency. One of Pride Decides 2020 efforts increases Michigan's Black LGBTQ voter turnout, particularly from the area's house ball community. Program partners for the project and corresponding event series include C2P, Unified Health and Beyond, OutFront Kalamazoo, Wellness Services and LGBT Detroit Mobilization. Events and activities include:
- The legendary premiere of the "The Voter's Ball" live streaming on Friday, Oct. 30.
- The Sunday "One Faith, One Vote" Dinner on Nov. 1.
- A caravan on Nov. 1 "parade" to the North West Activities Center ballot dropbox.
While each event targets different sectors of Detroit's Black LGBTQ community, there's a special push being made to get young Black transgender and queer participants of the ballroom scene to GOTV.
"It's critical we make sure our voices are heard and heard loudly at the ballot box this and every election," said Jerron Totten, LGBT Detroit's Social Outreach Coordinator & Legislative Advocacy Specialist. "We're doing our part to ensure our community is educated about the issues at stake, each candidates' voting records and to eliminate any and every excuse for not casting a ballot during this year's election."
He went on to say that whether it's absentee voting, voting my mail or any other method, "LGBT Detroit is ensuring our community is registered and has the tools, education, and awareness of their voting options to be represented."
House Ball Oct. 26 Deadline
With the Monday, Oct. 26 deadline to submit category entries just days away, results in terms of youth participation at the Ball certainly does not appear to be an issue given the social media buzz about the $1,500 in financial incentive. The Voter's Ball includes cash prizes in several categories requiring contestants' creativity and thoughtfulness in expressing their ideas about the crucial issues facing the Black LGBTQ electorate in 2020.
The Ball includes such categories as Runway: American Flag Flair; Sex Siren: Your Best Social Justice Statement; Best Dressed: Red, White, and Blue Patriotism; Realness: Bring it Like a Politician; and New Performance: PrEP Blue — each worth $200 cash prizes. The winner of the Grand Prize Performance, All Red, can earn a $500 award, taking home the top prize at this most unique GOTV community mobilization event. But, to win, all entries must be in at bit.ly/votersball by close of business on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020.
COVID-19 GOTV Health Concerns
In light of the resurgence in novel coronavirus cases both nationally and in Michigan, maintaining voter safety is a concern of both LGBT Detroit and among members of a community who are already disproportionately grappling with a range of health issues that make them uniquely vulnerable to the disease.
Hosting opportunities like the voter "Parade Drive" to the ballot drop box is a way to both mobilize the community and help maintain their safety while supporting this exercise in civic duty, particularly among seniors and others who otherwise may not have a safe way to get their ballot to a mailbox, the County Clerk's office or the polls.
Dinner at One Church begins at 1 p.m. and the caravan to the Northwest Community Center's ballot drop box leaves the dinner site promptly at 2 p.m. that Sunday.
To build awareness of these fresh opportunities to make sure voters are heard, LGBT Detroit has also marshaled the assistance of a team of digital content developers that includes Christopher "Inpaq" Sutton, Rhiannon Chester-Bey and Anthony Martinez to keep voters enlightened on both the events and the election. The team has also been vital in supporting the virtual "Voter's Ball" to get young voters excited about participating in this election.
"We're particularly excited that we're getting young voters out to the polls and engaging them in innovative ways this cycle," said Curtis Lipscomb, LGBT Detroit's Executive Director. "We've found whenever we meet the community where it is on the issues, connect with them in ways they care about, we find we get results."
Find out more information about LGBT Detroit online at lgbtdetroit.org or by following the organization on Instagram: @lgbtdetroitmobilization, Facebook: @ lgbtdetroitmobilization and Twitter: @LDMobilization.