Pride March to hit Jefferson avenue June 27

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 23, 2021

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — In an effort to “coexist and celebrate who we are,” a group of women is planning a Pride March in St. Clair Shores June 27.

St. Clair Shores residents Melissa Crook and Michelle Mormul said they first tried to get the St. Clair Shores City Council to approve a resolution in support of Pride Month, the month of June, but were told that it didn’t qualify for a proclamation. Crook said she was told it was because the City Council doesn’t make a proclamation unless it’s tied to a local event.

“Really nobody in our group liked that response, (so) I messaged Michelle and said, let’s just have a Pride March, have an official event,” Crook explained.

Macomb County Pride has been requesting communities issue a proclamation in support of Pride Month, Kristine Crook said, and communities including Clinton and Chesterfield townships, Eastpointe, Mount Clemens, Roseville, Sterling Heights, Utica, and Warren have done so.

City Manager Matthew Coppler explained that proclamations in St. Clair Shores are mostly made to honor a person, business or team in the city for winning an award, reaching a milestone age or anniversary, or making some sort of achievement. The only national, topically based proclamation that he could recall the city making is an annual proclamation in honor of Constitution Week.

“Everything else is all very locally” focused, he said, explaining that, recently, there had been a request for a proclamation on gun violence awareness, which was also denied. “There’s the ability for council members to get something on the agenda if they feel there should be something outside of what normal is, (but) like the gun violence, there was no direction given to place that (Pride Month) on the agenda.”

Coppler said they were following the tradition in St. Clair Shores of what local life events receive recognition in the form of a proclamation from City Council.

“There’s a lot of communities that will recognize those types of national-type of months or days. That’s what they do,” Coppler said. “We’re just doing what we have always not done.”

That policy could change, he said, and there has been talk of the City Council formally codifying what should or should not qualify to receive a proclamation, but no such action has been taken yet.

The Pride March is presented by the Facebook group, Saint Clair Shores Residents for Equality, which was begun in June 2020 by Kristine Crook and Bree Rowe after they organized a Black Lives Matter protest in front of the St. Clair Shores Police Department.

The march will begin at noon June 27 at the intersection of Nine Mile Road and Jefferson Avenue and will proceed north to Blossom Heath Park before returning to Nine Mile. Melissa Crook said they have contacted the Police Department to request an escort for the march in the street but may have to march on the sidewalk if no escort is available.

Coppler said the city has been in communication with the organizers to make sure they can keep participants safe while safeguarding their right to assembly.

“We’ve made sure that we can maintain the safety of those individuals that are marching, as well as the traveling public,” he said. “We’re committed to protecting people’s rights to publicly assemble but do it in a safe manner.”

Organizers hope parents, supporters, residents and community members come out to participate.

“Coming to something like this (shows that) I am a safe person; I am a friend,” Kristine Crook said, adding that she hopes participants include “people who love coming here and support pride ... people who grew up here and don’t live here because of the way that it feels.”

“I hope everybody in St. Clair Shores comes out. I hope every LGBTQI person is informed of this,” Mormul said.

Melissa Crook said she sees the event as a great thing for the city.

“There are residents in this community, Michelle and myself included, that are part of the LGBT+ community, and we want to be seen and welcomed for who we are,” she said.

The group is hoping to spark a conversation and spread knowledge about the broad spectrum of gender and sexual identities because many people just don’t know what pride is all about, Kristine Crook said.

“I’ve been an out lesbian for 20 years,” said Mormul, who moved to St. Clair Shores in December 2019. She is a precinct delegate in the city and said she discovered that less than a quarter of the registered voters in her precinct were liberal. “I, personally, live in a conservative bastion.”

She has a pride flag flying and Love Belongs Here and Black Lives Matter signs, but she has had issues with a few of her neighbors since the summer of 2020. Her next-door neighbor erected a Confederate flag facing her deck, and she received a “joke” prank in the mail that called her out for not keeping her yard looking the same as everyone else’s.

“It was just that sort of freedom to express my views that pushes marches like this to happen,” she said. “There’s this culture of misogyny. There’s this culture of bullying.”

Kristine Crook said they want to be an example of tolerance for everyone, from the young to the old. Her five-year-old son, she said, was bullied in the bathroom at school for his long hair.

“Let’s coexist and celebrate who we are,” she said. “It is our responsibility as a community to make sure the next generation grows up to be more welcoming and tolerant. If we can be taught to hate somebody or bully somebody, we can certainly be taught to love.”

She said participants can just show up at noon June 27 to participate.

“Rainbows and glitter not required, but encouraged,” she said. “Be who you are.”