Storm Does Not Stop the Sea of Rainbows of Ferndale Pride
(Olivia Hughes, Crystal Proxmire, June 8, 2019)
Ferndale, MI – Ferndale’s ninth annual Pride Festival was held June 1st, celebrating the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Ally community (LGBTQIA+).
Rainbows were everywhere – from flags, to clothes, to hair. As the festival officially opened, cannons of rainbow paper confetti were shot from the roof of Affirmations, the LGBTQIA+ community center. Inside an art exhibit showcased feelings on scraps of paper in a rainbow pattern that spanned the entire gallery area.
Even the dogs were rainbow for Ferndale Pride. Some dog owners had dyed their dog’s fur with washable, dog-safe, rainbow colors. Others had dressed theirs up with flags on their collars, or rainbow tutus. And not just dogs, a ferret was spotted on the end of a leash, also celebrating Pride.
As far as people, there were those of many cultures, colors, and gender identities. All are welcome to come celebrate diversity and inclusion, to a festival with no entrance fee thanks to the sponsors who help put Ferndale Pride on.
“Family, that’s it 100%,” said Candle Wick Shoppe proprietor Jacki Smith when asked why her business decided to become the headline sponsor for the event. “We love Ferndale and the LGBTQA community. The people who work with us, who come to our store, who we see every day. This is a big deal to us because this is our family.”
The day began with a Rainbow Run, hosted by the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce, that featured rainbow-colored socks for participants.
Then came an opening ceremony with speeches by several elected officials, including Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter, and Circuit Court Judge Jake Cunningham.
Attorney General Dana Nessell also took the stage to talk about what her office is doing to better protect all residents, including the creation of an anti-LGBT hate crimes division for the State and standing up for adoption by requiring those who discriminate to forego state funding. Nessell is the attorney who helped pave the way for same-sex marriage in Michigan and nation-wide in 2015, and now she serves at the top law enforcement official in the state.
State Senator Jeremy Moss, the only openly gay State Senator, joked that he was glad to be finally representing Ferndale because he spends so much time and money here. He also talked about the seriousness of the occasion.
“It’s been 50 years since Stonewall,” Moss said. “What was that first Pride like? Was it a celebration? Not really. People were being beaten… We can’t forget where Pride marches and Pride festivals started from.”
Moss also announced that he was introducing an amendment to the State Civil Rights Law that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes protected against discrimination.
After the speeches, the Dynamic Duo took the stage, with tunes like “Waving through a Window”, from “Dear Evan Hansen”, and “This Is Me”, from “The Greatest Showman.”
After a mid-day storm sent visitors into stores and bars, the party picked back up on West Nine Mile Road. Under the long row of tents, community groups spread word about their offerings and merchants displayed their wares.
Michelle Mormul and friends represented Sing Out Detroit! A group she says “uses singing to make the world a super better place!”
When she moved to the Detroit area from Delaware, Mormul wanted to make friends. “So I joined three gay choruses!” she said.
“This is truly a family. Whether you have a family at home or not, people in these groups are my brothers and sisters.” Sing Out Detroit! had a booth at the event, plus they got to perform on the Motor City Casino Main Stage. Other performances included drag shows, djs, singers, and headline performances by Joe Gauthreaux and Shamir.
Also spreading love was an army of moms wearing orange shirts giving away free hugs. “I’m giving free hugs today in honor of my mom,” said Robbie Flowers-Davis as she took a pause from her dozens of warm smiles and embraces with strangers.
“I’m a mom too, and there are people who feel like they can’t come out to their moms, or who don’t have a mom that can be there for them the way they’d like. The community is full of moms. So we’re here so everyone can have a mom hug today.” The Free Hug effort spread so quickly that sponsor Jim Shaffer and Associates Realty had to create a waiting list for hug volunteers.
Each year, Ferndale Pride raises money for local groups including Transgender Detroit, Ferndale Community Foundation, Gender Identity Network Alliance, Matrix Human Services, Transgender Michigan, and Affirmations.
Learn more at www.ferndalepride.com.
Check out stories from Previous Ferndale Prides:
For an ongoing list of things to do, check out the Oakland County Times Event Page.