Organizers estimate 44,000 people attended over the two days, which is incredible. Between the Lines did a nice writeup of the event, so instead of re-hashing it all, I'll link to it here. Let's just sum up and say it was incredibly diverse, Oakland County did not stay away, and everyone seemed to have a really great time.
|The rainbow stripes on the Ren Cen were one of my favorite things!|
Other local media did the obligatory puff piece with photo gallery of all the festival gayness (yours truly not excepted), which I thought was pretty lame given the fact this marked a gigantic jump in visibility in an area with essentially none. I mean FOR REAL - it was big news that Movement/Electronic Music Festival had 99,000 over three days, but 44,000 local GLBT people gets the boilerplate article? I guess the story was only interesting when Ferndale Pride and Motor City Pride were at odds with each other.
About that ... apparently by the time June rolled around, most animosity about Pride's move seemed to have dissipated, and from what I heard the Ferndale events were nicely attended and everyone was happy. I fully intended on checking it out but the addition of a Pride parade on Sunday morning meant any free time was filled planning for that. Maybe next year I'll plan better.
|In Detroit, everyone is a star! Especially Robert M. Nelson!|
Everything else went great too. The Pride Project came together beautifully and I got great feedback from both the Detroit indy businesses that supported Pride as well as the folks at Motor City Pride and Equality Michigan about it. I even had some other businesses approach me to be included next year! Please be sure to check out that website again and thank (and patronize!) anyone who participated!
|A few very nice posters of the Pride Project placed around|
Hart Plaza attracted no end of attention.
Finally, the Friday night Pre-Pride Doggy Style was out of control. Who knew a downtown gay night on a Friday could attract so many people? Someone open a downtown neighborhood gay bar NOW.
|People who need Doggy Style are the luckiest people in the world.|
The most incredible thing about this Pride was that for the first time since I moved to Detroit, I actually really felt like being gay here was totally normal. I mean as completely normal as it would be in Chicago or Washington, DC or Boston or anywhere else I've lived. Everywhere you went there were gay people or rainbow flags or just people asking how Pride was going.
In my email to business owners for the Pride Project I said that Motor City Pride moving downtown had the potential to change perceptions about Detroit in a way that hasn't happened since the Superbowl was here in 2006. In the way Pride exceeded every expectation, I really believe that was the case. What I didn't expect was that it was going to change the way *I* thought about Detroit.
The whole weekend left me feeling a little feisty, like maybe it's OK to say that something can just be GAY for its own sake without people getting defensive or worrying that people will feel left out. (It's Detroit, for God's sake. The Island of Misfit Toys. Everybody belongs.) By foregoing a gay identity in the name of not offending anyone, we actually diminish our ability to create our own community, raise our own visibility and maximize the positive impact we could be having on Detroit.
This post is long enough without hashing out all that in 2000 words or less, so let's just say Pride left me thinking "what if ..." a lot for a long time afterward. And it's been a while since I really looked at Detroit that way. I'm sure I'll elaborate soon enough.
SO! It's been a recuperative and reflective couple of weeks, and that's why it's taken so long for even a little reporting back. But now that I can finally deal with this stuff again ...
Double Rainbow: Oh My God!
This Tuesday night is a big gay double feature, starting with the Model D Speaker series "Gay Detroit"! Join an expert panel of judges as we discuss the state of gay culture & community in Detroit. I'll be sitting on the panel in my first official public appearance. It's a real Detroit gay meet-and-greet!
The event is followed by a Town Hall discussion presented by Unity Michigan. The Model D panel will be a little more community-oriented (and certainly City-oriented), and we'll let the folks with Unity Michigan handle the heavy stuff.
To make it extra special, there's a post-panel Doggy Style! Yes, you can't get enough! It all happens at the Park Bar, starting upstairs at 5:30 and ending sometime after midnight in the gutter. Please join us, and help keep the Pride momentum going!
Model D Speaker Series: Gay Detroit
Charles Pugh of Detroit City Council, Roland Leggett of Equality Michigan, Kirsten Ussery of the Downtown Detroit Partnership and Villages CDC, and me.
Tuesday, June 21, 5:30 - 6:30pm
The Park Bar, 2040 Park Ave. (upstairs)
Pre-registration is encouraged.
Unity Michigan Town Hall: Equality Action
Denise Brogan-Kator from Equality Michigan, Shellie Wiesberg from the ACLU, Curtis Lipscomb from KICK, and Laura Hughes from Ruth Ellis Center.
7:00 - 8:30pm
Hot DP (Double Panel) Doggy Style Action!
9pm - ?