Stephanie Daniel receives a free pink necklace for her daughter, Eva, during last year’s Ferndale Pride event.

Stephanie Daniel receives a free pink necklace for her daughter, Eva, during last year’s Ferndale Pride event.

File photo by Brandy Baker

Ferndale Pride continues to expand for ninth year

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 21, 2019


FERNDALE — The multicolored flags that represent Pride once again will be waved and worn all around Ferndale in the beginning of June.

The ninth annual Ferndale Pride will return to the city Saturday, June 1, during which thousands of people will flood the streets on West Nine Mile Road, between Woodward and Livernois avenues.

With Ferndale Pride becoming bigger each year, event organizer Julia Music said they really had to look at how to expand the event in a way so it can be more inclusive to groups that want to participate.

“That’s always our push,” she said. “How can we become more and more inclusive? And so this year we were able to reconfigure the actual layout to add more activities, more booths.”

Music said it was due to the sponsorship of the Candle Wick Shoppe that they were able to do this.

The expansion of Pride has happened over the past couple of years. For last year’s event, the footprint was stretched to Livernois when it was believed that the Development on Troy, or “The dot,” might break ground. Parts of previous years’ activities took place on West Troy Street.

“We were really nervous it might not be a full event,” Music said. “The streets ended up being absolutely packed, and we were like, ‘We made the right decision.’ This event is just a bigger event now.”

The day of Pride will be filled with events, beginning with the Rainbow Run 5K at 8 a.m. on East Nine Mile Road, near the Ferndale Area District Library. Other events will include wedding ceremonies from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Rust Belt Market, a youth prom for attendees ages 13 to 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Affirmations, and comedy shows at Go Comedy! starting at 8 p.m.

The opening ceremony for Pride will take place at 12:30 p.m.

Music highlighted the expansion of the event’s sober space, which is sponsored by Mark McMillan and the Center for Relationship and Sexual Health, as something new this year. The space will be open from 1 to 8 p.m.

“The sober space itself is not just going to be a place to go and get a free water and hang out and do some things,” Music said. “It’s going to be that, plus there’ll be six or seven lectures planned that day … so that people can actually engage in activity and learn about some of the minorities within our LGBTQAI umbrella and some other things that they just might be interested in learning about.”

Mayor Dave Coulter said Pride has grown into a tremendous event, reminding him of the growth of the city’s LGBT community center, Affirmations, which is celebrating its 30th year.

“There’s still a powerful need for it, and I think the same is true for Pride,” he said. “We’ve been doing this for a long time, but there’s still value in bringing people together and celebrating who they are, and I’m continually impressed by how many people come out and participate.”

Coulter also recognized the growth of Ferndale as a city with its attitude toward the LGBT community, remembering the initial resistance from some residents when people were looking to hold a Pride event in the downtown.

“There were people who didn’t want Ferndale to be associated with that,” he said. “Obviously, attitudes — not just in Ferndale but across the country — have changed, but it was a struggle then, and I think it took several years for the LGBTQ community to sort of become accepted by the city and for the city to understand the value and benefit of having LGBTQ folks move to town.”

Participating in Ferndale Pride activities will be just another thing Coulter gets to do as a resident, and not acting in his mayoral responsibilities, after he completes his term. He announced that he will not run again for mayor this year.

“I supported Pride personally before I was mayor, and I will enjoy it again after,” he said. “The only thing that will be different is my official duties, but it’s such a great event that I’ll continue to participate long after I’m done being mayor.”

Music acknowledged how Pride is now a lot of things to many people, whether it’s an outreach event for the LGBT community, a fundraiser for LGBT organizations or encouraging business at LGBT-supporting shops.

“It has become this really big juggling act because we want to try and do all the things a Pride event really should be in our minds,” she said. “One of those things is advocacy. One of those things is outreach. Donating to charities, we have reached the $150,000 mark to our local charities, which is a really big success for a festival to be able to raise that kind of money to donate back. But then it’s also including our businesses and shops, because we are a place where people can come from anywhere and be welcomed into a business and treated really well.

“A lot of LGBT folks don’t feel that way necessarily in their own community. And in our community, that’s just what it is. So we want to make sure our businesses see some love that day too. It’s kind of just grown in those ways and … making sure we engage as many people as we can.”

For more Ferndale Pride events and other information, visit