Who Should Grace Detroit's Motor City Pride Stage?

From Detroit's own DJ Minx to Tracy Chapman, 5 artists on our Pride performance wishlist

Chris Azzopardi

A lot goes into selecting Motor City Pride performers — including the all-important money consideration. And so you won’t find Mariah Carey (if only), who headlined L.A. Pride in the Park last year, on this list. 

In fact, MCP entertainment coordinator Alex Delavan didn’t beat around the bush when Pride Source spoke to him last year, basically (but not exactly) saying that you can dream all you want about a Beyoncé and Taylor co-headlined Pride, but at the end of the day, Pride money isn’t free money.

“Some Prides have absolutely huge budgets and can have really big names,” Delavan told Pride Source. “As for us, our entire organization is volunteer-based and our entire budget is based off of donations. So trying to land the biggest and best acts I can all within those constraints is the most challenging aspect of what I do.”

Don’t worry, Alex. As Motor City Pride gets ready to roll into Detroit on June 8 and 9 with a long history of queer and ally performers who’ve graced its multiple stages, we’re keeping our expectations in check as we fantasize about those we’d love to see getting a queer crowd going in Hart Plaza.  


Machine Dazzle

The internationally celebrated New York-based queer maximalist artist and costume designer — wearable sculptures, if we’re being honest — is known for turning trash into treasure, as he has been in Ann Arbor this entire year while rolling out his ambitious three-act installation at the University of Michigan Museum of Art. While Ouroboros is now on display at UMMA — it will continue to transform into an even bigger spectacle of reused found objects and locally sourced materials all through June — I can’t stop thinking about one specific moment near the end of Machine’s Penny Stamps artist talk in March, which he did in full costume that included multiple performances. A month later, I haven’t forgotten what was on that giant screen near the end: Machine’s face, with heavy eye makeup, peeking through a very rippled, pale pink costume, an artistic representation he said was of Donald Trump’s asshole. He’ll be here at least through June. Given Pride’s origins as an audacious change agent for the queer community, the kind we could really use during this precarious election year where drag bans could just be the beginning of a backward swing on LGBTQ+ rights, now is the perfect moment for Machine’s own brilliant version of art as activism. 

Chappell Roan

Mariah, Taylor, Beyoncé  — we love and need our iconic allies and their big platforms. But in recent years, Prides across the country are finally putting money back into the community by giving the mic to actual LGBTQ+ artists. Luckily, given that decades of artists sacrificed their careers to be their authentic selves, more openly queer artists are just a contract away from being on a Pride stage. We say give a big chunk of it to delightfully campy, openly queer artist Chappell Roan, at least before her asking price goes the way Lady Gaga’s certainly did after she transcended beyond the queer sphere and into the mainstream spotlight — a path Roan is on herself. Roan, who brought Cyndi Lauper vibes to her recent Tiny Desk performance, is already well on her way, currently playing to sold-out arena crowds on Olivia Rodrigo’s massive tour. She even has a great Michigan connection — she attended Interlochen, where she wrote her first major label single. Motor City Pride, get her while you can.

Orville Peck

If a stud is going to grace the stage (what’s Pride without one or two?), it might as well be one who’s sending shock waves through country music by shaking up the beer-and-babes status quo with “Brokeback Mountain” vibes and Willie Nelson by his side side in their new single "Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond Of Each Other." With a new album on the horizon, Orville is well on his way to becoming the openly gay male country superstar the genre has been lacking. Soon, his summer Stampede Tour will get off the ground, and it just so happens that Orville’s opening June Pride Month right here in Michigan, as he stampedes into Rochester Hills for a gig on June 4 at Meadow Brook Amphitheatre before another local concert in Grand Rapids the very next day at Meijer Gardens. Is it too much to ask that he postpone his Ohio and Indiana shows during Motor City Pride weekend to stay all week in Michigan? Can we all show up in chaps if he does? 

DJ Minx

We might need to clone her if we want to see Detroit techno icon DJ Minx at Motor City Pride (which we certainly do!) — ever since coming out in 2021 after decades in the closet, her schedule is packed with Prides, among other spring and summer gigs, like Detroit’s own Movement Music Festival. But after interviewing DJ Minx recently, I can’t think of very many out Detroiters with a rich music history like hers. DJ Minx is at the height of her career while being exactly who, as an openly lesbian woman married now to another woman, she always wished she could be — all this after decades in the closet. In so many ways, Minx embodies the spirit of Detroit and so does her edgy, immersive techno-house music that you can’t help but groove to. It’s not just about the bump-and-grind, even though it is about that too — it’s about knowing that wherever she and her music go, so does a community who loves you no matter what.

Tracy Chapman

It doesn’t matter that Tracy Chapman has never made a public statement about her sexual identity (even if her former partner, Alice Walker, author of “The Color Purple,” did) — there are generations of queer people who connect deeply to Chapman’s genderless songs, where all people can see themselves in the rich storytelling she’s presented in her music since her rise in the 1980s. If Chapman wanted to make a statement about her own identity, doing it on any Pride stage would certainly be a moment a lot of lesbians I know would cherish for the rest of their lives. But she could also just show up, her hair in braids and her smile beaming, and sing “Fast Car” like she did recently at this year’s Grammys alongside Luke Combs. It was then that Gen Z’ers felt her power for the first time, and queer elders were reminded of a power they’ve always known — to transcend beyond the confining boxes of gender and sexuality to just… be.

Topics: Pride

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