Ferndale Pride Chalks Up Another Year of Love, Diversity and Activism

Ferndale Pride Chalks Up Another Year of Love, Diversity and Activism

(Crystal A. Proxmire, June 6, 2018)

Ferndale, MI- As the nation continues to wrestle with acceptance in areas of race, gender, sexual orientation, politics and other areas of difference, there are communities making it clear that they are welcoming of all.  Ferndale Pride is one such testament. This year’s festival was held in the afterglow of three cities declaring June to be LGBTQ Pride Month.  Madison Heights and Hazel Park made the proclamation for the first time this year, with Hazel Park even raising a rainbow flag at City Hall.  Ferndale has declared Pride Month for at least the past seven years, and city officials kicked off Pride Month by raising a rainbow flag at City Hall as well.

“It is truly a gift to live in a city where government officials believe in supporting the rights of LGBTQAI people,” said Ferndale Pride Executive Director Julia Music at the Ferndale ceremony June 5.  “The month of June was chosen as LGBTQAI Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June in 1969 when Martha P. Johnson a transwoman woman of color decided to fight back against the raid on the Stonewall Bar.  As a result of her courage that day, many events are held during June in order to recognize the impact that the actions of the resisters had on drawing the world’s attention to the differences in rights for LGBT people.”

Congressman Sander Levin, Ferndale Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pawlica, and Interim Executive Director for Affirmations LGBTQ Community Center Lilianna Angel Reyes also spoke at the flag-raising, with many of the Ferndale Pride Planning Committee there to share in the moment.

“Today we raise the rainbow flag.  The colors symbolize what every human should be able to receive for their time on this earth: life (red), healing (orange), sunlight (yellow), nature (green), harmony/peace (blue), and spirit (purple),” Music said.

Saturday started off with the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce Rainbow Run, followed by a balloon launching, a performance by PRISM Men’s Chorus, and a wedding held on the event’s main stage.  Jenny Larson and Tia Wheeler exchanged vows and rings, sharing their love not just with friends and family, but with thousands of festival-goers as well.

Over 150 vendors bought booths which filled the festival’s newly-expanded footprint, with bigger corporations joining local businesses in showing their support for the community.  Motor City Casino Hotel sponsored the main stage, while companies like Blue Care Network, Beaumont, Genesys Credit Union, Szott’s Automotive and Suburban GMC were on hand to connect with the crowds.

Local businesses have always been essential to the success of Ferndale Pride, with Blumz by JRDesigns, Western Market, and Rosie O’Grady’s among the sponsors.  Family-owned retailer Candlewick Shoppe was the naming-rights sponsor of the festival, engaging passers-by with their rainbow-painted selfie-station and launching a new line of chakra-themed candles.

But in the alley next to the shop is where the real magic happened.

The alley, already home to a giant Daniel Cascardo mural, was beautified by Downtown Ferndale volunteers as part of Clean the Ferndale Up just a couple weekends before.  Rainbow garlands were draped across the alley, flower pots were added as were a whimsically-painted piano and a few outdoor tables and chairs.

Whomever was drawing arrows on the concrete leading to the festival left the chalk out by mistake.  “It was a happy accident,” Music said.  “People started writing and drawing on the walls, and it became this huge wonderful thing.  There are so many names and happy messages. We couldn’t have planned a better art project.”

Ferndale Pride 2018 was the largest ever, with steady crowds through the day and many opportunities to celebrate love, diversity, inclusion, and the groups, cities, and businesses who are working to make the world a more kind and welcoming place for everyone.

Learn more about Ferndale Pride at www.FerndalePride.com.

           

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