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Live, love, be proud

By |2006-06-08T09:00:00-04:00June 8th, 2006|News|

FERNDALE – Like several dog owners on Sunday at Motor City Pride in Ferndale, Melissa Cauchon of Rochester brought her partner and pooch Leo to the state’s largest LGBT event. It’s too early to tell, though, if Leo, even with some queer tendencies, is gay.
“I don’t know yet,” Cauchon said, laughing. “He’s too young.”
Leo checked out the legions of tail-waggers, some clad in rainbow gear, frolicking up and down W. Nine Mile Road and Troy Street. Mutts weren’t the only ones letting it hang out, though.
Men walked and skated through the street in Speedos and shirts – wait, what shirts? But it didn’t deter Shannon Murray, 31, and her husband Daniel, 37, of Warren from bringing their four kids along.
“We talk to them about alternative lifestyles, and we’re very open about everything,” Murray said.
Still, her 9-year-old daughter came home with a negative remark toward gay people that she picked up at school a few weeks ago.
“It’s so frustrating,” Murray said. “I wanted to show them a positive atmosphere where everyone’s the same and love is love.”
The Murray’s children got their faces painted and made rainbow colored “sand painted-bottles” – or at least that’s what John Sterritt, a Ferndale volunteer, called them.
“You can’t trust me for a damn thing,” said Sterritt, who was working at a children’s activities booth sponsored by Ford Motor Co.
“I’m proud of the company,” said Jason Elliott, a Ford employee and Ferndale resident.
One hundred and ninety vendors, from free portraits to a psychological-based dating service, set up tents along the sides of the streets. Students from Washtenaw Community College’s LGBTA Club sketched on-the-spot portraits and tried to promote their club at the same time.
“Most people are just interested in the portraits, not the club,” Damian Evilsizor said, laughing.
Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center exhibited paintings and jewelry at its Youth Art Display, Whole Foods Market served free samples of flavored water and sweets, and local bars Backstreet and Pronto! spun dance tunes and sold refreshments, respectively. Local Gay Games participants also recruited football players and mountain bikers for the July event in Chicago.
Show promoters from “I’ve Got A Secret,” a 1950s game show getting a 2006 facelift, parked their van on the street hoping Pride participants would reveal some dishy secrets or creative tricks.
“You basically tell a secret, or a trick or a talent or weird skill that you can do to the camera right now, and we post the 10 best from each city on the Web site,” said Paul Curran, a Game Show Network promoter. “Pride is a great place to market.”
Sean Kosofsky, director of policy for Triangle Foundation, shared Curran’s sentiment.
“There are certain parts of Pride yesterday that just blew people away,” Kosofsky said. “I would say the weather has always worked in our favor. It was a terrific, terrific weather day. It was flawless.”
The weather and improved parking conditions helped draw in over 42,000 attendees, up 7,000 from last year, according to Triangle Foundation.
“I never knew there were this many gay people in Michigan,” said Detroiter Kristi DiGioia, 30.
The festival might have not been 66-year-old Bill Girard’s cup of tea, but he still made it out – for the first time.
Decked out in a Hawaiian shirt and a straw hat, the longtime Royal Oak resident said, “I just like that it exists. I mean I think it’s important … but it’s not my idea of a kick.”
Another Pride virgin, Ebony Haywood, 24, would like to see more activities, besides a dunk tank, in future festivals.
“We’ve walked around in a circle three times,” said Detroiter Haywood, who was dragged by a friend. “But I love meeting new people and seeing everybody coming together.”
Drag queen Trixie Deluxxe stirred commotion, and laughs, with her PG-13 banter on the main stage, where a showtunes singer, a church choir, local rocker Barbara Payton and club diva Crystal Waters performed.
“Everyone was happy with the performers on stage,” Kosofsky said.
Payton, though, took a bit more time preparing her set than Deluxxe would’ve liked.
“Girl, can’t you just do it acoustic?” Deluxxe said.
Payton shot back, “Just ’cause you lip sync, you don’t understand.”
While watching Payton perform a stirring Patty Griffin cover about an ashamed gay kid who commits suicide, one woman offered an appropriate sentiment on the back of her hand-painted shirt: “Live, love and be proud of who you are.”

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.