With drag queens and trans youth under constant attack from all corners of the country, groups like Proud Boys have promised to demonstrate at Pride festivals around the nation. Pride Source has heard of no direct threat to Michigan. But as Motor City Pride (MCP), the state’s largest Pride celebration, rolls around, organizers are aware of the threat and taking security concerns seriously.
“Security is always forefront on our minds with our planning,” said MCP Chairman Dave Wait. “We work to ensure that the festival is a safe space for people to come and be who they are.”
Wait said the Detroit Police Department has been an excellent ally in keeping festival attendees safe.
“We do work with law enforcement that monitors airwaves to see if there’s chatter or discussions of any threat,” he said. “When the Nazis came in 2019, they were aware of that well in advance and were monitoring it.”
As of last week’s planning meeting, no such threats have come across the wire. The planning committee will meet again before the event begins on June 10 and review any threats then.
“I’m not expecting that there’s that type of chatter,” Wait said. Still, they have made certain enhancements to their security strategy this year.
“That’s one of the reasons that we have the one entrance and it’s moved this year a little bit off of Jefferson Avenue to keep people safer,” said Wait. “So that entrance was moved in our regard to be safe."
Wait added that, "We have new metal detectors for security operations, the kind they use at amusement parks and big venues that can get people screened quickly and moved into the festival faster. We’re doing all kinds of things with that in mind.”
Inside Hart Plaza, Wait said his security volunteers are well trained.
“We’ve got almost 50 people who are there assisting inside the festival,” he said. “And the Detroit Police Department is our eyes and ears outside the festival.”
Performer Sabin puts together a drag revue every year for MCP, including this year's festival. She said that Pride security is something she does think about.
“Of course I do,” said Sabin. “But nothing more than my everyday surroundings. I stay alert and vigilant and speak up when necessary. The moment we stay home behind closed doors, they win. And I can't and won't let that happen.”
Dancer Lex Hunter will also be performing on the Pride Stage as part of Sabin’s revue.
“It’s sad that we have to deal with prejudice on a day of celebration and inclusivity,” said Hunter. “Hate groups have always been at Pride. We expect them to be there. But we lead by example and love.”
Hunter said he is not afraid because he knows he’s not alone.
“I know I have my community standing with me and allies who are fighting just as hard to make our voices heard and make sure everyone feels safe.”
Attendees should still be vigilant though, Hunter said.
“If you see something, say something. We want everyone to be able to celebrate with pride, not worry.”