by Jessica Carreras
LANSING – Opinions of this year’s Michigan Pride, held the weekend of June 12-14 in Lansing, were all over the spectrum – from enjoyable, to educational, to disappointing. Although some called the affair a success, others panned the Saturday festival in particular. However, most agreed that like it or not, they will be back next year.
“The board (of Michigan Pride) is exhausted but completely happy with the results,” said Pride Outreach Coordinator Monique Goch, one of the head organizers of the weekend of events. “Thank god it stopped raining!”
Estimations on the number of pridegoers this year differed depending on who you asked. On the night of June 12, Lansing’s Old Town was hopping with Pride activity for the White Party kickoff at the Chrome Cat, Spiral Dance Bar, Esquire Bar and the Grand Cafe. Visitors, mostly clad in white, enjoyed performances at all four bars by the likes of the Perry Twins and Nervous But Excited, plus the comedy of Mimi Gonzalez.
The weekend also included a march to the Capitol Building. The rally that followed included speeches by Michigan Equality Co-Chairs Michelle Brown and Julie Nemecek.
The Diversity Festival in Adado Park on June 13, however, was debatable.
Rain threatened the crowd on and off for most of the day, and many noted a smaller number of vendors at the event. While Goch said that the attendance doubled this year, other estimates clocked the crowd at around 5,000 – about half as many people as last year.
“Michigan Pride was quite small this year. There werent many vendors, and it seemed there werent as many people either,” commented attendee Jen Taylor. “I wonder if the fact that it was held two weeks early had anything to do with the low attendance. A lot of the vendors that are always there werent there. It really was a let down.”
Others, while slightly unimpressed by the festival, vowed to still return next year. “I was a little disappointed; it seemed smaller this year,” agreed Jim Lynch of South Lansing. “But I was there and proud and I will be back next year.”
Lynch was thankful to all who put the festival together.
Also thankful were some first-time pridegoers – many of whom learned more than they even hoped to. Dwayne, a middle-aged straight man who attended Michigan Pride as his first Pride event ever, said that he was pleasantly surprised at what the event had to offer. “I heard about this thing going on, and people all upset about the gays, so I came down to see for myself,” he said. “I was really impressed. It was peaceful and everyone being nice to each other – and I learned a lot.
“You all deserve your equal rights. I see that now. I’m glad I came. I had a lot of fun.”