As Holly Prepares for Second Annual Pride, Organizers Celebrate the Strides in Between
(Mary Dupuis, May 31, 2022)
Holly, MI – Holly’s preparations for its second ever Pride are well underway following the outpouring of love and sense of community felt at its first Pride last June.
While Holly Pride will be held on June 7 the town worked throughout the year to make strides in its efforts towards inclusivity. In Feb. The Village of Holly Council unanimously passed a resolution declaring June 2022 to be LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
One of the organizers of Holly Pride, Kristin Watt, said this resolution is a representation of the message of inclusivity and equality that Holly Pride aims to generate year-round. Watt is part of a group called Holly ACTS that engages in a variety of community projects and activism.
“Events are great but what are we doing each day in between?” Watt said.
“So, number one, we wanted to be able to come to this event this year and not just go ‘Hey, we’re doing this again,’ but instead say, ‘Here’s what we’ve accomplished between last year’s event and this year’s event.’ Which, there have been several notable accomplishments, not just this resolution. But to be able to actually report the work that has been done is important.”
This year Holly Pride will take place at Venue One Eleven from 5-9:00 p.m. on June 7. The event is family-friendly and will include speakers, music, a photo area, mom/dad hugs, face painting and free swag.
Watt said it was a goal of hers to make sure the event had speakers once again to pair the fun with education.
“We wanted to continue to have speakers where it’s was not just like a festival, but it actually has good content and educational resources,” Watt said.
The keynote speaker at the event will be Oakland County Executive, Dave Coulter.
Other speakers will be the President of Equality, MI Buzz Thomas, Ferndale Pride President Julia Music, Oakland County Democratic Party President Jody Job, Holly Police Chief Jerry Narsh, Holly Township Library Board President April Brandon, the GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) club sponsor and a student.
In addition to this lineup, Amanda Shelton, an attorney running for Oakland County Circuit Court Judge, will be speaking.
Shelton is a member of the LGBTQ community and has been married to her wife, Kay, for almost 24 years. Shelton said her speech will center around her coming out story and journey to her career as an attorney today.
Shelton said despite her being their children’s’ biological parent, Kay was legally viewed as a complete stranger to them due to Michigan laws. This led them to take different measures to secure their family.
“Our marriage could not be recognized at the time that they were born and there was no way to secure her legal rights in the state of Michigan,” Shelton said. “So we ended up going to South Carolina. But they have an adoption statute there that is gender neutral, and it doesn’t require residency.”
Here, they met with a retired judge who would go through adoptions with LGBTQ couples every quarter when other judges and staff were not in the building.
Shelton said through her firm they have brought about 30 LGBTQ families to South Carolina to go through the process so their kids could have two legal parents.
“What’s cool about that is that adoption decrees get full faith and credit under the United States Constitution,” Shelton said. “So there was nothing that Michigan could do to say that ‘We’re not going to recognize this adoption decree.’ So even though we couldn’t be legally married, we can protect our family union by making sure that those adoptions are solid, enforceable and Kay was a legal parent to our kids.”
Shelton said she hopes her story will inspire those who hear it to feel excited about the idea of growing support in the community.
“I hope that my enthusiasm and hopefulness comes through about why (Pride) is so important and how great it is,” Shelton said. “And this whole idea of building community is one of the most important things that we can do. We’ve got to be very mindful that when we build community, we’re building that for everybody. Not just the people that we’re comfortable with. We have to kick the doors wide open.”
Something new to Holly Pride this year is the addition of resource tables for attendees.
Watt said there will be tables with suicide prevention resources, information on the GSA at Holly High School, two different business owners who own massage practices and spas and a life coach.
“Having self care and mental health resources was just a huge part of this,” Watt said. “We don’t want to just have fun, we want to give you tools.”
There will also be a silent auction table with all proceeds benefiting Common Ground — Holly High School’s GSA club.
A secondary Pride event, Pride Night, is also being held on June 11 at Holly Lanes. Tickets are limited and $20 person.
Brian Aubuchon, owner of Holly Lanes, said the evening will be full of music, food and entertainment.
“It’s just going to be a great great night that everybody of all walks of life can come and just enjoy some friendship makes new friends and just see that we have a very, very fun loving, welcoming open community,” Aubuchon said. “I think it’s very important that businesses, especially business leaders in the community, show their inclusivity to everybody.”
Aubuchon said he hopes that his bowling alley fosters this sense of acceptance and love all year-round, not just at Pride Night.
“My hope is that anybody in the community that feels left out or feels like they’re not part of a family or group can feel it with us,” Aubuchon said. “That they can that they know that they can come there anytime. Whether they’re with a big event like this or if it’s just two guys hanging out or two girls hanging out if they want to go on a date night and they want a place there’s going to be nothing to think about.”
Sponsors include The Holly Vault, Blumz Holly, Holly Foods, Holly Lanes, Holly Antiques, Creative Fashions, Thoughtful Threads, Andy’s PLace, Marucas Kitchen, Creative Smiles, The Bookstall and others.
Everyone is welcome to participate in Holly Pride and Pride Night to show their support and love for those around them. Learn more on Facebook.
For more things to do, visit the Oakland County Times Event Page!
To submit event info email email@example.com .
Thank you to Jim Shaffer & Associates Realtors for sponsoring this section!