Ferndale, MI – With flags of many color combinations fluttering around downtown along with the traditional LGBTQ rainbow ones, Ferndale Pride set a conscious scene of inclusion for many groups at the diversity-themed festival June 4.
“Today we gather to celebrate being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, greysexual, ally and every label that we wear and every label that we don’t. Today is a day about love, happiness and a fantastic party,” said Ferndale Pride Chairperson Julia Music at the opening ceremony.
“We also honor the people who fought for our freedom to live authentic lives during the June 28th Stonewall Riots of 1969 in New York City. Although today is filled with celebration, love and hope we also must remember that marriage equality was a but small step towards the civil rights Americans are supposed to be guaranteed. Until we all have job protection in the state of Michigan we are too far from justice, until actual issues that are causing harm in the trans communities are being fought for we are too far from justice, until each and every child who is queer can identify a role model in the queer community so that they may grow up understanding that they being queer is a gift and not something to live in shame or fear of, we are too far from justice.
“Because we have been lied to by the media too many of us are not aware of the unjust laws that trans and gender nonconforming people actually face. It’s time for federal legislation that allows for trans people to change their gender marker regardless of the state they were born in and for insurance companies and doctors to treat trans and gender non-binary people medically without relying on mental health diagnosis. It is all our responsibilities to make sure that our family is taken care of by not allowing these issues to be hidden by the media.
Today as our hearts open wide, and the celebration of our pride is easy (pause) remember that every day that you live a life that honors who you are pushing the movement forward and honoring those who have fought to be here.”
The sentiment was echoed by Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter who said that while same sex couples had gotten the right to marry there was still a need for activism. “We continue to make great strides, but the work is not done. If you look at the national level we are still being attacked on many levels. Our transgender friends and allies are in their sights now and we have their back. I was proud that Ferndale put an economic sanction against the states of North Carolina and Mississippi, because we’re going to send a message. We will not tolerate discrimination in Ferndale, in Michigan or anywhere in this county, and we will not do business with states that do.”
After launching biodegradable balloons of rainbow colors, then transgender colors of pink, blue and white, there was what could be the first same sex weddings at a Pride in Michigan. Three couples took their vows in a ceremony led by Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter and Deacon Angela Lippard of Christ the Shepherd Independent Catholic Church at Level One Bank’s art gallery space.
David and Michael, who did not want to share their last name, came from Lansing to tie the knot. They met in the Navy and have been in a relationship for 34 years. This was also the first Pride in the United States they’d attended.
“We went to Pride in Copenhagen, but we intentionally didn’t go to any here,” David said. When asked why, he replied “Why should we? Why should we celebrate when we could not have our basic rights?”
In addition to the activism and the love, as Music said, there was a big party. Sick of Sarah, Telephon9, Scarlet Lies and other performers gave people a reason to dance, while booths enticed passersby along 9 Mile and Troy Street. The festival raises money for charity, this year’s being Affirmations, Ferncare Free Clinic, Ferndale Community Foundation, Matrix Human Services MAC Health and Transgender Michigan.
Read about Pride’s past at http://oaklandcounty115.com/?s=ferndale+pride.
Learn more about Ferndale Pride at www.ferndalepride.com.