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Gov. Whitmer Honors Pride at Governor's Mansion with Michigan Leaders — and a Drag Queen! — in Attendance

The event marked the first time in Michigan history a drag queen was a featured guest and speaker

Chris Azzopardi

On June 20 in Lansing, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer hosted a momentous Pride celebration at the Governor's Mansion, bringing together legislators, activists and community leaders in a heartfelt display of support and solidarity for the LGBTQ+ community. Against the backdrop of recent legislative victories and ongoing challenges, including the precarious nature of the upcoming election, the event underscored both the progress made and the work that remains.

Addressing the gathering, Gov. Whitmer expressed her deep appreciation for Michigan legislators, Attorney General Dana Nessel, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist and activists from local LGBTQ+ organizations whose efforts have shaped policies reflecting the diverse queer voices across Michigan. She also touched on poignant milestones, including the signing of an amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act that added protections against discrimination for LGBTQ+ Michiganders.

"I got on the desk in the office today and hung the Pride flag on the window of my Capitol office," Gov. Whitmer recounted, doing so knowing that only the flags of the United States of America and State of Michigan are authorized to be flown in accordance with United States code on the main Capitol flag pole, with a few exceptions (the Pride flag not being one of them). She humorously noted the swift response it garnered: “How long did it take before we got a phone call about it?” “Two hours and four minutes,” someone in the audience was quick to point out.

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The event was not just a celebration but a call to action. Whitmer urged attendees to remain vigilant in the face of potential setbacks, particularly with crucial elections looming. "This is not a campaign event," she clarified. “I just want to make sure that we're all celebrating Pride, focusing on the next thing that we are going to do here in Michigan together, but also thinking about how crucial the next five months are going to be. I know I don't want to see us move backward on LGBTQ+ rights, women's rights and contraception.”

In her remarks, Gov. Whitmer acknowledged the hard-won victories of recent years while cautioning against complacency. "The work is never done," she emphasized, urging continued advocacy and support. "We're here because so many put their lives and blood and sweat into preserving [these rights]," she added, underscoring the collective responsibility to uphold and advance them. "So we can't let ’em down.”

The celebration was marked by moments of levity and camaraderie, with Gov. Whitmer warmly recalling interactions with colleagues and supporters. "Let's have a toast to the LGBTQ+ community," she proposed, garnering applause.

In a symbolic show of solidarity with drag performers across the country who have been under attack by right-wing legislators, Gov. Whitmer invited well-known drag queen and regular Motor City Pride performer Sabin to the celebration, who introduced Nessel as a “friend.” Sabin’s appearance marked the first time in Michigan history that a drag queen was a featured guest and speaker at the Governor’s Mansion.



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Gov. Whitmer and Sabin. Photo: Chris Azzopardi

“First of all, can we just all say that I, never in a million years, thought that I would get to serve under a governor who loved and embraced drag queens more than I do?” Nessel expressed, before adding earnest, heartfelt remarks about current “ridiculous and false and tragically harmful narratives.”

“This will just be something that continues on for generations to come, in part because of the hard work that so many of you in this room have done,” she said. “And I especially want to thank our governor for obviously inviting us here today — the most fervent ally that I have ever seen in elected office for all of my years. So thank you so much, Governor Whitmer, for all of your incredible work and for supporting all of us. And again, for having drag queens in your home.”


The event concluded with a sense of optimism and determination. "We're going to keep celebrating," Gov. Whitmer affirmed, “and I'm going to keep having drag queens at the house.”



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