Steven Smith, of Lincoln Park, and Sean Murphy, of Hazel Park, show their pride during Ferndale Pride  June 3.

Steven Smith, of Lincoln Park, and Sean Murphy, of Hazel Park, show their pride during Ferndale Pride June 3.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

Thousands at Ferndale Pride celebrate queer joy

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published June 5, 2023

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FERNDALE — The colorful representation of the LGBTQ+ community has come back to the downtown with the return of Ferndale Pride.

Ferndale Pride took place June 3 in the heart of the city, bringing with it lively personalities and thousands of people coming together to express themselves.

One of those people was Erynne Stanton, of Rochester Hills, who walked through the downtown draped in a bisexual flag. The 18-year-old, who was attending her first Ferndale Pride, said events like this make her feel more authentic.

“I’m not out to a lot of people. I’m out to my family, but not out to a lot of people, so I can kind of walk around and know that there’s other people that are just like me,” she said. “I see all the bi flags and I get really excited because I’m like, ‘Oh my God, there’s more bisexuals out there.’ So I feel really comfortable being at Pride.”

Stanton attended the event with her friend, 19-year-old Hayden Natinsky, of Royal Oak. Natinsky, a lesbian, said coming to Pride allowed her to be able to connect to a lot of people and be her real self.

“I came out over COVID, so Ferndale Pride last year was my first time being able to see my community around me. So it was amazing being able to see that.”

Recounting her first experience attending a Pride event, Natinsky said it was very nerve-wracking.

“I remember I had my Pride flag in my bag. I was a little scared to bring it out, but I was with my aunt and she encouraged me, and when I had it out, I felt really empowered. So the first time was a little scary, but as we kind of kept walking, I got more and more confident.”

Stanton also loved coming to Pride to see everyone’s outfits.

“Like, everything that they put together. I’ve wanted to say (to people) that they look great a couple of times, but I get a little too shy, but I think everyone’s outfits are the best part,” she said.

Natinsky agreed, also stating that she liked checking out all the small sellers at the event.

“I go to a bunch of art shows throughout the year. So seeing my favorite sellers that are at a place like this and say, ‘Oh my gosh, the art queer-owned business is really cool.’ So I love seeing my favorite artists again and seeing some high school friends,” she said.

Reflecting on Ferndale Pride the following day, the event’s executive director, Julia Music, said the festival went really well.

“We had beautiful weather — folks were really happy,” she said. “There was definitely a sense of joy in the air, and I think it was a really beautiful day.”

The theme for this year’s Ferndale Pride was “queer joy,” and Music said she saw a lot of queer joy at both Pride and at the related events leading up to June 3

“Our interfaith ceremony centered on queer joy, and it was really beautiful to hear about different faiths and what brings joy to different people,” she said. “On a day of Pride itself, everyone’s just so positive and uplifted. Everyone feels very welcome. It’s because we really, truly try to welcome every single person, and I think it really just shows in the way the festival ends up going.”