Royal Oak to host inaugural Family Pride celebration

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published June 4, 2019

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ROYAL OAK — From 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, Royal Oak will host its inaugural Family Pride event in conjunction with the monthly food truck rally at the Royal Oak Farmers Market.

The event will include live entertainment, a bounce house, drag queen story time, face painting, a dog fashion show and food trucks, as well as a number of educational resources for LGBTQ families and the community.

David Mates-Knapp, who has lived with his husband, E.J., in Royal Oak for approximately four years, emailed the city about planning a family-friendly Pride event.

“For being such an awesome and inclusive city, we don’t really have too many Pride events,” he said. “The mayor just declared this June Pride Month in Royal Oak, so they do a lot, but we never really had something like that.”

He said city staff immediately warmed to the idea and formed a committee to plan the event.

“The No. 1 thing I’m taking away from it is just how great of a city Royal Oak is. It’s a wonderful place to live. It wants to be inclusive, and it wants to be better,” he said.

 For the last year or so, Mates-Knapp said he and E.J. have also been going through the adoption process.

“We have been trying to find more resources and have more connections through there and gain more information,” he said. “Family Pride is a Pride event, but it’s also kind of a resource for couples that are trying to adopt or gain more information.”

He said local churches, adoption organizations and other educational vendors will be on-site during the event to connect people with resources.

“One thing we noticed too, when we started researching, was you felt like you were on an island. You felt alone and didn’t know what to do or who to reach out to. We knew the resources were out there and people were going through the same thing,” he said. “I love the sense of participation (in Family Pride). The city is on board, the businesses downtown. Everybody is kind of gung-ho.”

Carol Schwanger, a city staffer and member of the Family Pride committee, said she was excited for the prospect of a family-friendly Pride event in Royal Oak.

“Pride is fun, and while there’s kid spaces at them, most Prides are adult-oriented, about having fun and letting go,” she said. “We also wanted to have an educational component and resources for couples who are adopting and for teenagers and family to start talking about it. You can find out you’re not alone and there are people you can talk to when you don’t know what to do.”

She added that a couple of children in the foster care system will also speak about what their experiences are like during the event, and participants will be able to learn how to register to vote.

“We have so many different vendors, and the support has been amazing,” Schwanger said. “A number of sponsors came to us without doing any advertising. I feel like we happily filled this void that we have.”

On May 20, the Royal Oak City Commission unanimously adopted a resolution proclaiming June as Pride Month in the city of Royal Oak. The proclamation encourages residents “to reflect on the ongoing struggle for equality members of the LGBTQ community face and celebrate the contributions that enhance our community.”

Jim Rasor, a former city commissioner who helped champion the city’s human rights ordinance, founding attorney of Rasor Law Firm and title sponsor of Family Pride, accepted the proclamation.

“I am humbled to accept this award on behalf of Royal Oak’s LGBTQ community,” Rasor said. “At the end of the day, love and acceptance always wins over hate and divisiveness.”

The Royal Oak Farmers Market is located at 316 E. 11 Mile Road, east of South Troy Street.

For more information, call Royal Oak City Hall at (248) 246-3000 or visit www.romi.gov.

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