Friday, March 25, 2011

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.

My response:

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.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ferndale Pride 2011 "We are Family"...and still Proud !

When community members learned of the impending move of the annual Gay Pride Festival by Motor City Pride this year to Detroit’s Hart Plaza from downtown Ferndale, there was an immediate and overwhelming desire by many to create events for Ferndale so that GLBT residents, allies, businesses, friends and neighbors would still have local opportunities to celebrate pride in Ferndale. The result is a series of events (that are still growing and evolving) that will complement and support the Motor City Pride festival, while still providing choices and additional events for the greater community.

Parades and Marches, Rallies, Downtown Strolling, Alley Dallies, Late Night Shopping, and Patio Theme Parties.

A large group of local and regional community organizations and leaders, along with individuals, volunteers and businesses owners are planning & organizing Gay Pride events for June 2011 in Ferndale including a GLBT “We Are Family” Pride Parade, a second GLBT and Allies “Night March”, and a continuing community rally on Friday June 3 in the evening in downtown Ferndale to celebrate and recognize Gay Pride Week. Multiple club and restaurant/bar events are being planned as part of the weekend celebration as well. A broad coalition of local and regional groups is signing on as supporters and endorsers, including the Ferndale DDA, the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce, Michigan AIDS Coalition, Ferndale Community Foundation, Affirmations, Al Gamea, Hazel Park Friends, and many others. The Ferndale Community Foundation (501-c3) is expected to act as fiduciary.

A family friendly GLBT parade on June 3 will be held beginning at 6 pm lining up in the alley behind businesses on the north side of W. Nine Mile Road. At approx 7 pm the parade would proceed south on Planavon to 9 Mi. then east on W. 9 Mi. across Woodward to the City Hall front lawn for a social, cultural and political rally.

A “Luminous Night Parade” on Friday June 3 for the GLBT and allies community will assemble beginning at 9 pm in downtown Ferndale for that march which woll step off near W. Nine MIle Road in downtown and wind around the streets and alleys with hundreds of persons holding lights, candles, glow sticks, and flashkights to "light up the night for diversity". That parade will also end at the Ferndale City Hall Front Lawn for a second rally.

The annual “Dyke March” is scheduled for Saturday June 4 through downtown Ferndale in the early afternoon with a rally at Geary Park. This would be the second year for that event. The annual Gay Union Ceremony hosted by MCC Church and Equality Michigan is also expected to take place in Ferndale during the weekend. This will be the 10th year in a row for that event. Four Ferndale mayors will have participated in joining GLBT couples after this year.

A large number of special themed events in clubs and bars, patio parties, and tea dances, along with “alley dallies” are planned for all three nights of this weekend June 3-5 with up to a dozen restaurants, bars and clubs participating, including Como’s, Dino’s, Rosie O’Grady’s, Soho, Danny’s, Loving Touch, and others.

Most events are free of charge. Sponsorship opportunities are available. Volunteers are needed.
Proceeds will benefit four area charities including Affirmations, Michigan AIDS Coalition, Ferndale Community Foundation, and the Dyke March. Stay Tuned.

Friday, March 11, 2011

South End Oakland County to get Major Park Upgrades

Catalpa Oaks in Southfield seeing $850,000 investment

Hard work and a unified lobbying effort by south-end Oakland County Commissioners has resulted in a major success for residents of Oakland County as the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission announced last month the approval for Phase I construction for Catalpa Oaks Park in Southfield. More than $850,000 in funding will produce or deliver this year an irrigation system, a new children’s playground, new service building, rental shelter, a 2nd entry kiosk and new goals and bleachers for the sports’ fields. Baseball, softball, and soccer are currently available at the park, with eventual plans for many other programs.

The land for the new park was acquired in 2007 after efforts by several county commissioners, including Gary McGillivray-D-Madison Hts. who is now a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, as well as Commissioners Dave Woodward-D-Royal Oak, Helaine Zack-D- Huntington Woods, and others.

Most of the county parks, golf courses, and other recreation facilities are located in the more sparsely populated areas of northern Oakland County. There has been a lot of criticism from residents in the southern, more densely populated urban areas of Oakland who feel most county park and rec facilities are out of reach to many Oakland County families.

“We are very pleased to get this major sports and recreation facility now in an area that is very accessible for our kids and families down here, and we thank the Parks and Recreation Commission for their support,” said Commissioner McGillivray.

“This is an investment in our residents’ health and fitness as well,” added Janet Jackson, D-Southfield. “We need these kinds of facilities here for the urban families who don’t always have the resources or abilities to get to other types of recreation.”

Catalpa Oaks is located at the southwest corner of Greenfield and Catalpa in northwest Southfield, west of the city of Berkley. The park will see vastly improved soccer, baseball, and softball fields as well.

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