Holly Pride Celebrates LGBTQ+ Community with Speakers from Near and Far
(Crystal A. Proxmire, June 18, 2022)
Holly, MI – When Ferndale Pride Director Julia Music told people she was speaking at Holly Pride, some were surprised that a village in rural northern Oakland County would support a Pride. But such events are becoming more popular as communities of all sizes see the value in being welcoming of LGBTQ+ neighbors. “You are changing the narrative that the only way to come out in a small town is to get out,” Music told the crowd of about 300 attendees.
She spoke of how going to Affirmations community center in Ferndale was so important for her growing up in a community where she otherwise didn’t know any LGBTQ+ people. For her this was a lifeline, but it’s not one that every teen has.
“I had a friend who did live in Holly at the time and he would drive down twice a month to the youth group at Affirmations Community Center. It wasn’t easy for him but it was his only way to have the momentary feeling of community and safety,” she said. “That kind of lack of connection for queer folks contributes to disproportional negative health impacts for LGBTQ people. The sense of loneliness and otherness is deeply harmful. Yes we do have the Internet now and we can find community online – but it’s not the same as being able to spend time with other queer folks and allies out and about in our downtowns.
“There are queer kids right now who know that know that there are community members they can turn to because of you.
“There are folks who have been in the closet who are adults who finally feel safe to come out.
“There are people who remain in the closet who may still not feel safe but they now know that there are people here in the village of Holly they can count on to have the private and necessary conversations to keep them healthy and all too often to keep them alive.
“I can tell you that although today is awesome and you will surely hear stories of how this day was life changing after the event. There are people that you are impacting today that you might not know about for years.
“What you were doing here and Holly is truly miraculous. You are changing the narrative that the only way to come out in a small town is to get out.
“You are transforming Holly to a place where people from South Oakland County will no longer be shocked that Holly has a pride festival. Instead Holly will be known as a place that is a safe place for all. A place that we need to pull over to visit on road trips. A destination for a unique downtown and a premier place to live. We shouldn’t have to drive thousands of miles a year to be able to see community when we can have communities everywhere.”
Just days after the massive Ferndale Pride celebration, Music made the trek from one corner of Oakland County to the other, on a Tuesday evening to speak at the event and meet people locally who are fighting for visibility and equality.
Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter also covered the same distance to be there. Coulter is the first openly gay County Executive in Michigan. Back in 2002 he ran for County Commission and has since also served as Mayor of Ferndale. “I didn’t run to be a gay elected official,” he said. But being visible was important to him; he called it “a responsibility.”
He said something that he likes to say as often as he can in speeches, which is “I want this to be a county where everyone feels valued, and everyone feels welcome and everyone has the same opportunity for success and to live their best lives.”
While the speakers from Ferndale gave perspective of the overall fight for equality, and some history – it was local speakers and performers that personalized the need for small town prides like that in Holly. April Brandon, who serves as President of the Holly Library Board and is active in many community projects, talked about being a parent of a child who grew to be her beloved transgender son. She also helped bring a resolution to the board which passed unanimously. “We signed a resolution to care for our transgender employees on a local level no matter what happens on a federal level,” she said. “Within the resolution is a zero tolerance policy against hate speech and actions.”
The “RESOLUTION TO CREATE AND MAINTAIN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT INCLUSIVE AND NOT LIMITED TO THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY AT HOLLY TOWNSHIP LIBRARY,” was passed unanimously at the June 28, 2021 meeting.
President April Brandon penned the resolution, which lists reasons why those in the LGBTQ community need protection from discrimination, and what the board believes should be done. It calls for “knowledge through education regarding LGBTQ issues strengthens compassion and cultivates acceptance of, understanding and respect for LGBTQ children and youth,” as well as sates “All citizens should be able to patron a library in a safe and inclusive environment free from discrimination.”
Brandon told the crowd at Holly Vault’s 111 College location that gatherings like this one matter. “Pride events are to remind us of the importance of human rights through the preservation of dignity,” she said. Holly ACTS founder Kristin Koppa-Watt and Police Chief Jerry Narsh were also among those who took the stage to share words of kindness and inclusion.
In addition to speakers, Holly Pride included spaces for community resources and courtyard space with games and family activities. This was the second year for the event. 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.
Holly Pride was created by the group Holly ACTS. Those who want to learn more about Holly ACTS can find them on Facebook.
For more things to do, visit the Oakland County Times Event Page!
To submit event info email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Thank you to Jim Shaffer & Associates Realtors for sponsoring this section!