Ferndale Pride Uplifts LGBTQ Community at Local Level

BY JASON A. MICHAEL

In 2017, LGBTQ America is looking to find a balance between being political and celebratory during the month of June. As LGBTQ people and their allies defy the hatred and violence that targets them, they are determined to celebrate. Ferndale Pride organizers are offering up the opportunity this year for LGBTQ people and their allies to do just that - celebrate being a part of a welcoming community and to support one another.

On June 3, the streets of downtown Ferndale will fill up for the 7th annual family-friendly street fair which draws thousands of LGBTQ people and their allies to celebrate diversity and unity.

Fair admission is free for the festival from 1-10 p.m. on W. Nine Mile Road between Woodward Avenue and Planavon Street, as well as portions of Allen Street and West Troy Street. A special opening ceremony is planned on the MotorCity Casino Hotel Main Stage.

"This year at the opening ceremony we will pay tribute to the victims of the Pulse attack with a special balloon launch and Sarah Hood will perform an original song written for the victims," said Julia Music, event chair for Ferndale Pride. "Sadly, we remember that Pulse happened one week after Ferndale Pride last year as Ferndale Pride hosted the first memorial service on the lawn of Ferndale City Hall in response to the shootings."

The lives of Gilbert Baker - American artist and gay rights activist who designed the rainbow flag in 1978 - and Peter Cooper, a longtime activist in the LGBT and Jewish communities, will also be remembered at the ceremony.

"Losing Peter was a hard one for me," said Music. "He used to take me to the bars when I was 18 to pass out condoms. We had a longstanding friendship and his death was a great loss to the community."

Proud to Be Sober

Making its debut at the festival this year will be a sober space designed for those who like to celebrate Pride without alcohol.

"Our LGBT community is disproportionally affected by substance abuse," said Music. "Many sober members of the community asked Pride if we would be willing to add some space to the event for adults that want to participate in activities without alcohol. We thought this was a great idea and sober space became a new part of the event."

The sober space will feature a custom built corn hole and Jenga as activities. The space will also feature tarot card readings by Candle Wick Shoppe, grounding activities like adult coloring and free non-alcoholic beverages furnished by Western Market.

"I am extremely happy that the community presented this need to us," said Music. "Knowing how many LGBT people are impacted by substance abuse, it's important to present fun and

engaging options for the day that don't involve alcohol."

Music said Ferndale Pride is offering an expanded children's area also located on Troy Street, which features a retro games trailer. The first 500 kids to arrive will be able to make their very own wands.

Calling It Off

One event that will not return to Pride this year is the Married with Pride Ceremony. Three couples were married last year during a group ceremony officiated by Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter and Deacon Angela Lippard of Christ the Good Shepherd Independent Catholic Community. Organizers say it was a first of its kind for a Michigan Pride festival, but this year, Music said nobody will make it to the altar.

"Although we had inquires, none came to fruition and we had to cancel the weddings," she said.

But that does not take away from all there is to see and do. There are a variety of events scheduled before and after the festival to coincide with the Pride celebration. (See Pride calendar for schedule of events.)

More than 115 vendors will line the streets selling food, beverages and goods, as well as provide resources and information for the LGBTQ community. Numerous downtown restaurants and merchants will provide promotions and specials.

Both ends of the festival streets feature stages turning out metro Detroit musical acts. The dance stage's lineup will include DJ Dav, Dangerous Curves, DJ Jace, Octavia and Players Club. The main stage will be a mix of genres, including Sarah Hood, Liquid Monk, Acoustic Ash, Nwoye, Liz & The Luckouts, Lipstick Jodi, Mae James and this year's headliner - Tunde Olaniran.

"After being voted one of the five 'Small Cities Prides that are Worth the Trip' by AfterEllen.com, the pressure to deliver on a great event is very real," said Music. "We have the power to uplift people on a local level and that is what our event is about."

Proceeds from Ferndale Pride benefit Affirmations, Ferndale Community Foundation, Gender Identity Network, Matrix Human Services MAC Health and Transgender Michigan.

For more information, visit http://www.ferndalepride.org/.

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