Motor City Pride 2015
(Crystal A. Proxmire, June 8, 2015)
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of rainbows, glitter, generous amounts of flesh, and the vibe of happy people dancing at Motor City Pride. And of course there is a draw to the people with the wildest hair, sexiest outfits, hottest dance moves, and most eccentric tastes. But the seemingly simple happiness that bursts forth in celebrations of Pride comes from a legacy of repression, hiding, guilt, rejection, fear and generations of struggling to get to a place where human beings can proudly say “this is who I am.”
For most in the LGBTQ community, day to day life is not a big party. In Michigan two adults cannot be issued a marriage license if they are of the same gender. In Michigan people can still be fired for being gay or transgender. In Michigan transgender people face obstacles in obtaining proper ID. In Michigan if someone wants to harass a gay or transgender human being, there are not hate crimes protections. Laws that helped reduce the actions that fueled racial divides, religious bigotry and sexism do nothing to stop discrimination, violence or intimidation of LGBTQ people. In Michigan if two people of the same gender want to adopt a child into their loving home, only one of them is able to have guardianship. The other parent is a legal stranger.
And while popular culture shows more welcoming and mainstream portrayals of LGBTQ people, the reality is that many individuals still face family rejection, bullying at school or work, harassment, fear of being open about their relationships, rejection from other social situations like church or communities, and sometimes the problems that come from being marginalized, such as increased risk for depression or self-medication. People in the LGBTQ community are still attached, beaten, and murdered.
And so, at Motor City Pride, they danced.
From babies and little kids up to senior citizens who lived years wondering if the world would ever accept them, Pride was an event for everyone.
Jeff Montgomery, who has been fighting for LGBT rights for decades, was the founder of Triangle Foundation, the group which eventually became Equality Michigan. He and documentary director Daniel Land spent much of 2015 Pride interviewing other long-time activists for an upcoming film about Montgomery’s life and activism work. “This is a great place to meet people who know the history of the movement,” Land said. The film “America You Kill Me” is expected to be presented at the Sundance Festival in Jan. 2016.
Equality Michigan puts on Motor City Pride. This year a $5 cover charge helped offset costs for the event, along with sponsorships and booth rentals.
The booths are an important part of the Motor City Pride experience. Here is where people can find organizations and resources, along with opportunities to buy shirts, jewelry, swag and other goodies to remember the day.
Greg Jacoby and Dan Mehringer manned the Dignity Detroit booth. Since 1974 Dignity Detroit has served the LGBTQ community by providing Catholic mass, administered by priests from various other churches. Jacoby said there are currently about 20 priests who rotate in to serve 60-80 parishioners on Sunday evenings at the Sacred Heart Chapel at Marygrove College at Six Mile and Wyoming in Detroit. While the Catholic Church rejects LGBT people, there are people in the faith working to change it from the inside out. “I find spirituality in a Catholic mass,” Jacoby said. “When I go to the church I grew up in, I have to filter what is said. I’ve tried going to other churches, but I want the ceremony and traditions. That is how I feel connected. I am troubled by society and the world at times and I know there must be a higher power. At Dignity Detroit I can reach that higher power without having to filter what the priest is saying.”
Just a few booths down from Dignity Detroit, folks from FTM Detroit sold custom-designed shirts with needs on them and told people about their support group. “We have meetings at Affirmations and we do social events, educational events,” said coordinator Niko Cheney. The shirts feature two needles crossed in the middle of FTM and Detroit, with est. 2014 as part of the logo. FTM stands for “female to male,” and for many in the FTM community, regular testosterone injections are a part of life. The shots help those with feminine bodies to grow hair and go through other masculinizing changes.
Giving voice to the broad LGBT community were radio hosts Cristin Casey and Jennifer Miracle-Best who do a show called “The C Spot,” with the motto of “broadcasting change.”
“We talk about whatever issues are happening in the community,” Miracle-Best said. “Like this week we’ll give a recap of Motor City Pride and we’ll talk about Caitlyn Jenner since that is the big story.” The show comes on Sundays from 8-10pm at www.caveradiobroadcasting.com.
Dozens of other organizations had a presence at the event, including ACLU of Michigan, Michigan AIDS Coalition, Ruth Ellis Center, Affirmations, Gender Identity Network Alliance, and Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit. Companies that support Pride include Motor City Casino, Fiat, Comerica Bank, Delta Airlines and more.
Learn more about Motor City Pride at http://www.motorcitypride.org/.
Motor City Pride 2015