PFLAG Downriver takes place in annual Independence Day parade

By |2006-07-13T09:00:00-04:00July 13th, 2006|News|

WYANDOTTE – What’s as American as hot dogs and mom’s apple pie? A group of parents, friends and families of LGBT folk celebrating their loved ones – at least that’s the message that PFLAG Downriver hoped to deliver by marching in the annual Independence Day parade July 4 in Wyandotte.
This year marked the seventh time that PFLAG has marched in the parade.
“We call this our visibility project,” said Mike Neubecker, a board member and co-founder of the group. “People need to see that there’s parents, families and friends – as well as lesbians, gays, bi’s and trans – who are part of the community and deserve respect. Who knows what difference it will make on voting day, but we know the answer to true equality is visibility. When people know someone, there’s not as willing to discriminate.”
The PFLAG contingent consisted of about 30 folks, three cars – including a silver Lexus SC430 convertible driven by Dr. Bob – and one dog. The Neubeckers’ car, bearing the license plate “PFLAGPA,” hauled a trailer that featured a rainbow-shaped archway with multicolored balloons where folks could sit if they got tired along the mile-long route.
The PFLAG group was nestled between two churches, and just eight units ahead of former Amway president and Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos. DeVos marched with the massive Downriver Republicans contingent, which featured a mammoth elephant float named Ike.
“We love it,” said PFLAG Downriver President Jan Neubecker of the group’s placement in the parade. “I love it, because they need to know that we’re here. Our group’s here, we’re going to be here and they need to get used to it.”
Carol from Taylor, who marched with PFLAG for the third time, said response to the group is overwhelmingly favorable.
“We get a pretty good reception,” she said. “We get quite a bit of applause. Usually in a parade, you get two or three times when somebody when yell out a smart remark. But that’s about it. You’ll get a few boos, but the positives outweigh the negatives.”
Steven from Southgate, who marched with PFLAG for the first time this year, said that being gay and living downriver can be both cool and challenging. “It can be good and it can be bad. It depends what part of downriver you’re in and who you’re around.”
Certainly, PFLAG Downriver, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, has helped bring awareness to the area.
“Our chapter has not only given me support, but it really does support LGBTS that have no family that they can depend on to support them,” Mike Neubecker said.
An anniversary dinner will take place in the fall, and Jan Neubecker said there is much more to come from the active group.
“There’s still more work to do,” she said. “We’ve spoken at universities, almost every major university in the state. We’ve spoken at churches. We’ve tried to be as public as possible. Plus, we just started a cable show, and we’re trying to get that off the ground.”

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.