Rainbows flags, free hugs and, most importantly, solidarity took over Hart Plaza and descended down the streets of Detroit last weekend as Motor City Pride celebrated social and self-acceptance of the LGBTQ community and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.
Motor City Pride Events
Inside the festival gates, attendees were greeted with encouraging signs, colorful bracelets, high-fives and hugs. Four separate stages featured more than 50 local and national artists who entertained the crowd with music spun by DJs Nadar, Kevin Bailey and Haute 2 Death and performances by headliners Greyson Chance and Flint artist Tunde Olaniran. The energy was only magnified when performers from Sabin’s Drag Revue – including special guest Ongina from RuPaul’s Drag Race – took the stage to vogue through the crowd in colorful ensembles and sparkly heels.
On Sunday, the celebration took to the streets as the annual Pride Parade kicked off. The community and its allies marched down Griswold Street and onto Jefferson Avenue waving flags and throwing candy and beads as the crowd cheered.
The festival included calmer moments and time for reflection as well. At 3 p.m. on Saturday, attendees paused for a moment of silence to remember victims of LGBTQ violence. There was also a tented area that displayed pictures of those who died in the Pulse Nightclub shooting and other prominent figures in LGBTQ history. People could take breaks on grassy areas near the waterfront to catch the breeze off the Detroit River and relax under the trees.
A designated family area hosted face painting, crafts and games for kids and more than 120 sponsors, vendors and nonprofits handed out swag and provided information on services and support. Local beauty products, handcrafted jewelry and statement clothing were also for sale. Food stands provided carnival cuisine along with Cajun-inspired food and vegetarian options.
Motor City Pride is not just an event. It’s also a volunteer-run organization on a mission to spread awareness of the LGBTQ community and bring equality and inclusion to everyone. It is a part of Pride’s history in Detroit and the United States.
Pride History in Detroit and the U.S.
The first march in Detroit was held in June 1972 in an effort to bring recognition and equality to the LGBT community and to protest against homophobic laws. A few years later, a post-march picnic was added, slowly transforming the march into the festival it is now.
Just a few years earlier, Pride’s history started in the early morning of June 28, 1969, when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay club in New York City. Fed up with years of regular police harassment and discrimination, bar patrons and bystanders resisted arrest and fought back as a riot ensued. The revolt from New York’s gay community lasted for days and served as a catalyst for LGBTQ political activism. Known as the Stonewall Rebellion, this important event was the tipping point of the gay rights movement in the U.S.
On the first anniversary of the rebellion, Christopher Street Liberation Day commemorated the event with the first Gay Pride march in U.S. history. What started as one day of celebration has turned into a month of Gay Pride events across the country. This year, pride month and all it entails – from celebratory festivals and parades to profound moments of remembrance – commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, celebrates the advancements of the movement, and recognizes the continuous struggle for equal rights for the LGBTQ community.