Two LGBT community leaders squared off at a feisty town hall meeting in downtown Detroit on June 21. For Joe Posch of http://www.SupergayDetroit.com, the need is obvious for a “gayborhood” within the city limits of Detroit. But Detroit City Council President and mayoral aspirant Charles Pugh said that establishing a primarily gay area in Detroit would be counterproductive.
“If you go to the existing neighborhoods in Detroit you will find that gay people are already involved. Neighborhoods are already integrated and should continue that way,” said Pugh emphatically. “I am the city council president, and I will be the mayor for everyone!”
Posch shot back that Detroit is a tough place for LGBT to move to because it is hard to find LGBT people. “We need visibility. I didn’t move here as a TV personality, and it is a hard city to move to. A little bit here, a little bit there doesn’t have much impact,” said Posch who was referring to Pugh’s celebrity status as a former Fox 2 News anchorman.
“Who here hasn’t been asked by visitors, ‘Where’s the gay neighborhood?'” asked Posch of the mixed crowd of about 80 people at the town hall meeting at the Park Bar in Midtown. “The gay community is largely invisible in Detroit. We don’t need it for protection as much as we did in the 1980s, but we do need it as an entry point. Do we really want to tell people who are new to the area that they have to go to Ferndale to find gay people?”
“I think we need more visibility. I love seeing people be visible in business and politically,” said panelist Roland Leggett, field organizer at Equality Michigan. “It’s not just about the houses in an area. It’s about out businesses, and the impact that can have on policies and voting,” he said.
“I’m from North Carolina, and now live on Detroit’s east side. During Motor City Pride weekend gay and straight neighbors flew the rainbow flag. It was great!” said Kirsten Ussery, chair of the Downtown Detroit Partnership and the Villages CDC, two neighborhood organizations. “We need to build more community involvement at the neighborhood level,” she said.
The Gay Detroit town hall meeting was presented by Model D, WDET FM and Unity Michigan.