by Lucy Hough
Providing entertainment at Pride festivals around the state is a new instrumental group, the Equality Band of Michigan. The group, an offshoot of the former Great Lakes Pride Band, started practicing and recruiting members in April, and expects to play at Motor City Pride on June 6, Michigan Pride on June 12 and West Michigan Pride on June 19.
“Our band has kind of taken off, in the sense of when people found out there was going to be a new band with new leadership, people somewhat got excited and enthusiastic about the prospects of a fresh start,” said Gary Hicks, president of the band.
The band’s goal is to not only provide a social environment for the musicians to bond and make music, but also to promote awareness and a message of equality, as the band is made up of LGBT people and allies.
“That’s really what we’re trying to do,” Hicks said. “We want to provide an informal education for people, promote awareness and pride and hopefully try to promote acceptance through a medium – music – that all people can relate to and understand and appreciate.”
Hicks hails from Lansing, though other leaders in the band come from the Grand Rapids area and Royal Oak. Each leader conducts smaller segments of the band in those areas, which will allow the band to come together across the state for the weeks of Pride and have a cohesive agenda, as planned by the band leaders. Music is also sent to members electronically so that they can practice on their own wherever they may be. Oftentimes, band members will also travel to other rehearsals to help with the instrumentation.
“It’s difficult with scheduling sometimes, but we do try to help each other out that way, too,” Hicks said.
Hicks hopes those interested will still consider participating in the band as Pride nears.
“We want to encourage anyone who has an instrument and an interest to join us,” he said. “There’s no auditions and all levels are welcome.”
Though rehearsal and play times are still uncertain, those interested can contact Hicks at email@example.com or search for the Facebook group “Equality Band of Michigan.” The band will play at the three prides in June, take a short break in July, and then begin rehearsals for the AIDS walks in Michigan, which will take place in September.