After the long COVID months and virtual Pride events, Motor City Pride is finally upon us. But planning this year’s event has been, as you can imagine, a bit different than previous years.
“More stressful with great anticipation,” to be exact, says Darius Wheeler, MCP’s entertainment coordinator. “We thought, ‘Let’s give them a concert and get everyone ramped up and excited.'”
After streaming virtual events in 2020 and 2021, MCP will resume its in-person festival on Sept. 18 and 19 at Hart Plaza. While the community is brimming with excitement, there’s also a new level of caution at play when in large crowds due to COVID. MCP organizers say they’ve carefully planned this year’s festival and worked with CDC guidelines.
“We navigated by watching a lot of news,” says Dave Wait, chairperson of MCP. “[We were] looking at a lot of reports and talking to folks with the [City of Detroit] about what they’re doing with other events, and what they’re seeing in other events. [We] also looked at the rates of [COVID] spread at other events. [This all helped] us make the decision to proceed with the festival in the safest and [most] logical way that we can.”
MCP’s decision to postpone the festival was made back in February due to the increased COVID numbers and low vaccination numbers.
“At that point, we knew that the city wouldn’t really be ready to help support us with the festival in June,” he continues. “So, we worked at getting a date in September. [We] thought it would work for all of us and give people a chance to get vaccinated.”
It was a smart move on their part, considering that 92 percent of LGBTQ+ adults in the U.S. surveyed by the Human Rights Campaign have received at least one vaccination for COVID-19, according to a recent report released by the organization.
Wait says that, while they were given the extra months, those involved had to contend with a lot of moving parts.
“It seems like there was more time, but we also had to pause a lot to make sure things were right,” he continues. “It wasn’t like we had additional months to do things. There were more things to check and follow up on.”
Those things include guidelines and rules for the attendees.
“We altered the entrance gate several times,” says Wait. So we can do what’s best for our community, we’re asking people to be socially distant. Everyone’s going to get in, so we need to be respectful in that regard. And when you are in close spaces with other people, be extra safe, put on a mask. Have a mask with you at the festival. So that when you’re like, ‘OK, this is getting kind of crowded,’ [you can put on a mask].”
Wait says MCP wants everyone to be able to enjoy the festival, so they’re asking unvaccinated people to wear masks to help protect themselves and the people around them.
“[We] really encourage everyone to be vaccinated, so the city’s going to be vaccinating people at the festival,’ says Wait. “It won’t help them then, but it will help society and people moving forward. So, come out and participate. And really remember, Motor City Pride is a celebration that grew out of the protests in the ‘50s and ‘60s, so as much as we’re celebrating, it’s also coming together to work on advocacy.”