As a city with the historic privilege of being known for its open-arms acceptance, diversity and unique blending of cultures within a quaint downtown community, Ferndale was the original site of Motor City Pride, before the gay pride festival and celebration made its move to Hart Plaza in 2011.
Downtown Ferndale, the place where the festival was held, was unsurprisingly concerned – not only at the potential of what the trailblazing community would be missing out on in terms of being part of the celebration, but at the thought of lost business for the tenants and businesses situated along Nine Mile Road over the busy weekend in which the festival was held. So it didn't take long for Ferndale to develop an event of its very own. And now, as the second annual Ferndale Pride festival nears, things have expanded even more than they did for last year's inaugural event – bringing the integrity and legacy of the celebration back to where it began.
The three-day festival kicks off on Thursday, June 14, with an opening reception, Beyond the Bar, presented by AIGA Detroit. Last year's graphic design and illustration exhibition was Detroit's very first LGBT design showcase. This year's reception will offer art (the event has been opened up to industrial designers, architects and photographers as well), music, appetizers, alcohol and – undoubtedly, with that combination – a damned good time.
For the rest of the weekend, it's one great showing of solidarity, fun and pride after another. Light the Night Against Hate is Friday's focus event, a family-friendly walking tour throughout downtown Ferndale (and its adjacent neighborhoods), aimed at educating people on the damage done – both historically and in modern-day culture – by hateful speech and physical violence against members of the LGBT community and its allies.
Raising awareness is one of the primary goals of the weekend as a whole, and Light the Night is an impactful way of starting things off. "The committee had a vision that they sat down and decided that they wanted to educate people about how hurtful things can be," says Monica Mills, the volunteer coordinator for Pride and benefits coordinator for the Michigan AIDS Coalition. "And the committee kind of developed things from there."
"We advocate for lesbian inclusion and visibility," says Eric Folkmire, president and co-founder of Saturday's event, the Dyke March. "It's a national event, and we just kind of stole the name. We're kind of like the offspring of the Chicago event – we worked really hard to bring it here." Cities like New York, San Fran and Boston all have similar movements that have attracted thousands of participants to the event. Open to everyone, as are all of the weekend's events and celebrations (something that Ferndale as a whole has come to be known for), the Dyke March is expecting to draw as many as 1,000 participants this year.
Sunday's event is the Rainbow Run, a 5K run (or walk) through the streets of downtown Ferndale. The kicker is that, as participants run the predetermined course, there will be six different stations, at which volunteers will throw a different-colored – and non-toxic, duh – powdered paint at the white shirts worn by participants (which will be given to runners at the start of the event), creating a one-of-a-kind and memorable keepsake from the fun event. "I'm a straight woman, and I've lived in Ferndale for a long time – since before the gay community really moved in," says Mills. "And I've noticed the changes, and the values that have been brought into the community, and how it's changed. So we just hope that all people will come out for this event." | RDW