Pride event scheduled for October in Macomb County

By: Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published July 28, 2021

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MACOMB COUNTY — In an effort to create a more welcoming environment for the LGBT+ community in the county, Macomb County Pride is planning a Pride Festival for October with a street fair, music, carnival and more.

“We’re looking to provide people with an experience of things they haven’t been able to safely enjoy in the past,” said Christopher Kipp, a board member of Macomb County Pride and programs chair of the festival. “People don’t realize what it’s like for the gay community.”

Not everyone necessarily has had the comfortable experience of a fun carnival atmosphere. Things like winning your significant other a teddy bear, kissing on the Ferris wheel or walking hand in hand down a midway can be fraught for the LGBTQIA+ population, he said.

The festival is for everyone, he said.

“There’s two As in LGBTQIA. One of them is ally and one of them is asexual,” he said. “Allies, if you support us, we support you. The love goes both ways.”

Organizers plan for the inaugural 3-day festival to begin with a pub crawl Oct. 15 and wrap with an Oct. 17 drag brunch at a to-be-determined local venue. The main event will be a street fair from noon to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16 on Macomb Place with handmade goods and nonprofit resources, entertainment headlined by Nikki Holland and the Dirty Elizabeths, and speakers throughout the day. The festival will also include a carnival on Main Street with midway rides and games all three days.

Phil Gilchrist, president of Macomb County Pride, said they hoped to hold the first festival in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way. This year, the organization moved the festival to the fall because when planning began earlier this year, organizers weren’t sure what COVID protocols or lockdowns could still be in place in June.

“Part of what we’re trying to create is a really welcoming environment for the LGBT+ community in Macomb County,” Gilchrist said. “It’s not always visible. This is one way we’re able to establish that presence and project a more welcoming environment.”

Kipp said the gay community is underserved in Macomb County, but they’re hoping to change that.

“A lot of the resources that are available to us are in other counties that we have to get to,” he said. “If we’re kicked out of our homes, we have to make our way to Detroit, to the Ruth Ellis Center, or to Ferndale, to Affirmations.

“That’s one of the things, in the future, we’re hoping to lay the groundwork for, to get organizations like that in Macomb County.”

There will be a wide array of nonprofit resources sharing information about their programs for the LGBT+ community at the street fair, Gilchrist said. They are currently recruiting artists to rent booths in the street fair. More information about booth rental and festival sponsorships is available at macombcountypride.com/pride2021.

“When we named ourselves Macomb County Pride, that really put us in a bracket and set us in a league with Motor City Pride and Ferndale Pride, which are the premiere local events,” Kipp said.

To that end, he said they were aiming to be Macomb-centric with their entertainment and have put together a music lineup that includes rock bands, soul singers, drag queens and kings, trans performers, and more.

“What we’re going for is to be very inclusive of every subset of the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as the population at large,” he said.

Along with Nikki Holland and the Dirty Elizabeths — who Kipp said have a high-energy, fun, reggae vibe — acts will include: Mae James, a soulful solo artist; James Taylor Jr., an advocacy musician who plays original music and covers; Alise King, a Motown artist who won the Motown Amplify contest; the Sing Out Choir, who perform show tunes and encourage singalongs; drag queens Crystal Harding, Mia Cole, and Emma Sapphire; drag king and trans activist Michael Christian; Sir Walt, a Prince impersonator; dancer Jadein Black; and guest speakers on advocacy and Pride topics.

The event will be family-friendly and open to everyone, Gilchrist said.

“We hope we see a good turnout from the community. It is absolutely open to everybody,” he said. “Everybody’s welcome, and we hope that everybody will come.”

Kipp agreed. He said he’s happy a festival of this caliber is coming to Macomb County.

“To have something of this significance, I think, is huge,” Kipp said.

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