BTL Editorial Blasts Covey, Ferndale Pride Plans. My response:
Immediately below is the BTL editorial as printed in the paper the week of March 23. Below their editorial is my response.
When Motor City Pride announced the move to Hart Plaza in Detroit last month, we were heartened by the opportunity this now brings for all of us fighting for full inclusion in our communities across the state. The event is coming to a stage where it can actually grow in size, message and visibility. It can demonstrate our community's role in the region and amplify our message of what needs to change - anti-bullying protection, second parent adoption rights, the eradication of 2004's discriminatory Prop (which banned same-sex partners from marrying) - and that is hardly the full list.
When the opportunity to seize the Hart Plaza location presented itself, organizers jumped at it. Watching some of the LGBT leadership in Ferndale react to this move - in particular Oakland County Commissioner Craig Covey - and stir the pot with such insularity and possessiveness is truly upsetting. We ask the newly-named "Ferndale Pride Co-Chair" how he would feel if Royal Oak had reacted the same way a decade ago when Pride moved from that neighborhood into Ferndale. If, as Covey's press release claimed, Ferndale Pride truly intends to "complement" the Motor City Pride efforts, then why not have the kick-off events the weekend before or the weekend after Motor City Pride?
Of course, no one "owns" pride; it has always belonged to the grassroots. The Ferndale community has the right to do what it wishes. We certainly can appreciate the sense of loss Ferndale is having, but we would have hoped for a true cooperative spirit and not one born out of small-mindedness. It is certainly not too late for this kind of cooperation and planning, and we hope that it will still happen.
Hart Plaza is a fantastic regional stage where many festivals happen each year, including the Electronic Music Festival and the Detroit Jazz Festival, to name just two. Located on a beautiful, redesigned waterway, it is a golden opportunity for our LGBT community to showcase our stuff!
We are sorely in need of leadership in the state of Michigan to advance our full equality agenda and stirring up this divisiveness is the last thing we can afford right now.
What we are heartened to see is an increasing number of comments on our website and on our Facebook page that offer overwhelming support of the move to Hart Plaza and understand the opportunity it presents.
We hope you show up June 4-5 at Hart Plaza, and we also hope if you have time and energy, you volunteer and help make this year's Motor City Pride the best one yet.
Ferndale's plans to celebrate GLBT pride this June are designed to add additional choices for our community to celebrate itself, and advocate for the very items mentioned in the above editorial. We have had multiple discussions with Motor City Pride leaders, who encouraged us to look at the Friday night before the main pride event for Ferndale-based events, which we did. Nothing that Ferndale Pride 2011 is organizing competes in any way with the Hart Plaza festival. We are encouraging all GLBT and allies to attend the Motor City Event. We wish that event total success.
We are not sure why this is so upsetting to the publishers of Between the Lines Newspaper, which is based in Livonia, Michigan.
When Motor City Pride left Royal Oak (it had the festival back then in a parking lot and garage) there was disappointment among many in Royal Oak, and they had every right to feel that way. Folks there could have organized new events and I would have been fine with that. Actually, Pronto! does celebrate pride each year in Royal Oak. We say the more the merrier. Interestingly, Mayor Ellison of Royal Oak did express to me last month that he was sad to see Motor City Pride move from Ferndale to Hart Plaza this year.
We could not promote or complement Motor City Pride if we moved to another weekend. The weekend of June 3-6 is the weekend that folks travel from all over Michigan and Ohio to come to our region for pride. BTL should know that the previous weekend (in May) is Memorial Day, a time when we honor our soldiers, veterans and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, BTL should also know that JUNE is the month we celebrate pride because of the history of our modern movement, and the original Stonewall Rebellion in New York City in June of 1969. The other weekends in June are when many local gay people travel to the big parades in our neighboring big cities, including Toronto, Chicago, and Columbus, as well as the state parade in Lansing. Interestingly, I have been asked to attend the Columubus parade this year, as a founder of that event which celebrates its 30th anniversary.
Finally, I would suggest that we are not being divisive. Many of us have spent the better part of two decades creating a welcoming, safe, and affirming space for the GLBT community in Ferndale, and we have been recognized nationally for what we have done for diversity, acceptance, and progress. How could we NOT have pride in this town?
Each year on St. Patrick's Day, there are big Irish parades in Detroit, AND in Royal Oak, and in many other cities and towns in the region. The Irish don't freak out about multiple parades, rather, they celebrate them all. The GLBT community is maturing and understands that we are growing stronger and more stable all of the time. So lets not be divisive, and criticize those few leaders who have given their all for so long. Lets support Gay Pride in every town and city.