by Jessica Carreras
With June less than two months away, Michigan is gearing up for Pride. From Traverse City and Kalamazoo to Lansing and metro Detroit, Pride plans are underway. Contracts are being signed, acts finalized, fundraisers held and vendors contacted – all in preparation for Pride 2009.
Motor City Pride
With 2009 Pride approaching, a new chair and some small changes are coming for Motor City Pride.
And how appropriate. The theme for this year’s southeastern Michigan Pride event will be A Time for Change. “The theme was picked because our movement is on the cusp of change, from a combination of our wins and losses from November’s elections,” Pride Chair and Triangle Foundation Board Member Dave Wait wrote in an e-mail blast last week. “We feel that now is the time to energize our activities so we can use the momentum to continue advocating for positive laws for further protections and rights.”
That energy is coming in handy, as the Pride planning committee hustles to catch up in time for this year’s festival. However, though the Web site is still not updated and acts are yet to be finalized, Wait assured that Motor City Pride is on track. “We got off to a little bit of a slower start as we regrouped,” he said, and explained that the organizing group lacks paid staff this year. “We are coming along real well right now. We’re booking talent, waiting for budget contracts for the performers; the exhibits and different vendors are coming in.”
Though not much can be announced at this time, Wait promised that there will be plenty of entertainment, exhibits and a kickoff party at a Ferndale bar. Visitors can also expect the usual family activities, beer tent and history exhibit.
Though the economy has put a strain on the planning committee, Wait said that most, if not all, pre-Pride events will happen as planned, including the Pride Picnic and Women’s Golf Outing. “The (Pride) Movie is the one thing that we’re not real sure of at this point,” Wait said. “But everything else is coming together and a few more things that we’re looking forward to being able to start announcing.”
12-7 p.m. June 7
Nine Mile Road, Ferndale
Held on the same day as Michigan Pride, the LGBT community of Kalamazoo will be celebrating its second year with a full pride festival. Though the time overlaps with Lansing’s event, organizer Alison Strasser of the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center said they’re not worried about a lack of turnout.
“We’re pretty confident that we have a different group of people who are interested in coming to ours than Lansing Pride does,” Strasser said. “I’m not really all that concerned about it. And it’s a long day, so people can go to both.”
This year’s event will include merchants, performances and many food vendors – including vegan and vegetarian cuisine, which Strasser said were absent from last year’s festival.
The entertainment is being handled by Western Michigan University’s Office of LGBT Student Services, and acts are expected to be finalized within the coming weeks.
Though Kalamazoo Pride is relatively newer, Strasser said they are expecting about 4,000 people – and possibly even some unwanted guests, given the battle going on over the human rights ordinance in Kalamazoo right now. “Especially with the ordinance (fight) going on, we’re thinking there’s going to be more folks,” she said. “We didn’t have protestors last year, but we’re planning on having some this year.”
2-11 p.m. June 13
Arcadia Creek Festival Site, Kalamazoo
West Michigan Pride
2-10 p.m. June 20
John Ball Park, Grand Rapids
Plans for West Michigan’s 21st annual Pride Celebration are well underway, with fundraiser events happening weekly at bars throughout April and May, including a Spring Gayla fundraiser on April 18 and a special Pride Extravaganza on May 1 in Muskegon.
Pride events will kick off on May 31 with the annual Pride 5K and Pride Picnic in Riverside Park in Grand Rapids. Put on by the local Frontrunners and Walkers group, participants can enjoy a leisurely run or walk, followed by an afternoon of family fun with games and food for all. Guests are encouraged to bring a dish to pass.
Plans are still being finalized for Pride Movie Night, which is set to happen on June 19. Though the movie and location have not yet been announced, the tradition promises an elegant reception and showing of an LGBT movie.
The following day, the West Michigan Pride festival will kick off with music, bingo, vendors, food, a beer tent and more.
Stay tuned to the Web site for upcoming information.
In September 2008, it came to light that Michigan Pride, the group that puts on the statewide pride in Lansing each year, was in over $10,000 debt. Unfulfilled sponsorship promises were to blame, and the announcement left thousands of pride-goers wondering if the Capitol’s Pride events would be canceled in 2009.
Not the case, said Michigan Pride Co-Chair Candice Risner.
The debt was down to $5,000 by February of this year, and Risner recently claimed that with their upcoming Keep Pride Alive Brunch and Fundraiser, held at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Lansing, they hope to be completely debt-free and ready for this year’s Pride.
Risner credits local group Suits and the City for helping out with planning for the event. “We were behind in paying the Radisson bill so we are working with the Radisson and Suits and the City to pay it off,” she said. “I think that all the work that (SATC Chair) Monique (Goch) has put into this brunch…will pull us out of the majority of the debt.
“We’re gonna be sailing pretty good.”
That sailing will take them right into June, when Michigan Pride will kick off with pre-Pride events in Old Town, including parties at the Chrome Cat, Spiral Dance Bar and Esquire.
Entertainment this year is still being finalized, but is expected to include such acts as rocker Barbara Payton and The Perry Twins, a DJ duo from Los Angeles that has performed in clubs everywhere from Seattle and Vancouver to Boston and Miami. The Perry Twins will also perform June 12 at a White Party in Old Town as part of pre-Pride festivities.
Plans for a VIP bar, which would include special admission to a ticket holders-only area (with no long drink lines) are still in the works.
Several other things will surprise Pride-goers this year, including the route of the March to the Capitol. Construction in downtown Lansing along the usual route caused Michigan Pride organizers to consider canceling the march, but Risner assured that it is happening. “The march is back on,” she announced. “We just bounced that idea around. We didn’t really know how we wanted to work with it. City Councilwoman Carol Wood helped us work it out and we’re going to have a really nice, easy route to the Capitol this year.”
Another change that may not have Pride-goers so excited is the admission fee. Though Michigan Pride usually has free admission while asking for donations, the poor economy has caused Risner and the other planners to decide on a $5 charge for those 16 and older. “When you say ‘donate,’ people think free, and that is a problem,” she explained. “If you look like you’re old enough to have a job, by god, squeeze five bucks out.
“It’s going to be a big day of fun.”
11 a.m.-7 p.m. June 13
Adado Park, Lansing
To learn more about upcoming pride events, watch for coverage in Between The Lines and online at https://www.pridesource.com. Also, check for updates or visit individual Pride Web sites to volunteer and get involved in 2009 Michigan Pride events across the state.