Ally Rush Week Begins During Ferndale Pride

First Ever Event Series Seeks To Recruit, Raise Awareness

By AJ Trager

FERNDALE - Affirmations is recruiting! Starting with Ferndale Pride May 31 and stretching to June 6, Affirmations will be hosting a daily event to celebrate the ally community and their support of the Center and the LGBT community. This is the first time the Center is setting aside an entire week during the Pride season to honor allies working in the LGBT community.

Throughout the coming year, Affirmations will work to develop a larger ally base that is willing to speak up and out for the LGBT community.

Affirmations Director of Development Angela Gabridge is an ally who believes it is the responsibility of the ally community to speak up and support the end of oppression of the LGBT community and their families. She says many allies are unaware of the issues or they feel powerless to affect change, let alone get involved.

Rush Week is a great way to get informed and start to learn how to engage.

"Many haven't even heard the term 'ally' before, or if they have, don't realize this term applies to them. So much of what we are trying to do with this campaign is to raise awareness - what is an ally, why get involved, what specifically can one person do to create change? Obviously we are looking to generate financial support as well. You can't run an effective political campaign without a sizable war chest; advocacy, engagement and affecting change are no different," said Gabridge.

Allies are friends, family members and supporters of the LGBT community who believe in civil rights and equality. Affirmations wants to bring the entire community together and inspire them with stories of triumph, overcoming adversity and life after bullying when the heavy shadow starts to fall off the shoulders of those affected.

There will be something for everyone and, according to Gabridge, it means the world to the LGBT community and the Center when allies show up and help out.

"We encourage EVERYONE to grab a friend or come on your own and check it out," she said. "We'll have stations set up where you can make a video or take a selfie to post on social media expressing your support, learn about buddy or date night volunteering, join one of our new cross cultural teams or just hear about what a tremendous difference $10 is making in someone's life. Just show up, I promise it makes a difference."

"It's true, we're recruiting,'" says Jon Fitzgerald, interim executive director of Affirmations. "The simple fact is, without our allies, we'll never reach full equality in Michigan or anywhere else. We need our allies to get invested in the work that Affirmations and other local groups are doing to bring about positive change and create safe, supportive environments for our youth, seniors and others in the LGBTQ community."

Ally Rush Week Events

May 31 Ally Rush Kick Off event: All Day at Affirmations. Learn more about allies and take photo, sign up for opportunities and pocket give-a-ways.

June 2 Bring an Ally to Affirmations Day: All Day at Affirmations. Get informed and find more about the impact that friends and allies can make and how to make the first step in "coming out."

June 3 Tying the Knot: Movie screening, 7-9 p.m. at Affirmations. Come watch how the meaning of marriage has evolved in today's hot political war between the LGBT community and those that want to stop marriage equality.

June 4 New Volunteer Training: 5:30-7 p.m. at Affirmations. Guided tour of the Affirmations facility and hear about ways to use skills and passion to make a difference in the LGBT community.

June 5 Dining out at Logan's Roadhouse: Support Affirmations by dining at any of the seven locations, 4-10 p.m. Locations include Troy, Roseville, Shelby Twp, Auburn Hills, Southgate, Canton and Livonia. Dine in or carry out.

June 6 Gallery Opening and Reception: Pittmann-Puckett Art Gallery, 7-9 p.m. See the 25 years of Affirmations history in serving the Metro Detroit LGBT community.

Ally Campaign Fact Sheet

Courtesy of Affirmations

What's the point?

It's not just about marriage equality. In Michigan, you can be fired for being gay. You can be denied housing or kicked out of your home because of your sexual orientation or gender identity. You may not be allowed to visit your significant other if they become sick or incapacitated or you could lose access to your children. Let's change that. Affirmations wants to create a base of Ally friends and supporters who are willing to speak up and out for the LGBTQ community, and we need LGBTQ supporters that are willing to reach out to our Allies. We believe that in order to affect change and create safe, supportive spaces we need to work together. We need YOU.

What the heck is an 'Ally' anyways?

An Ally is a friend, family member or supporter of the LGBTQ community. You believe in civil rights and equality for all.

LGB..wha???:

LGBTQ. It's an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and/or Queer. Here at Affirmations, we know that none of us exist in a bubble- so we usually add an 'A' for Allies. You are a part of our lives and families, too. LGBTQA.

Here's the deal

We're asking our Allies to stand with us and speak up and out on social media, in the press and amongst their own spheres of influence in support of equality.

We need to build a base of friends and supporters invested in creating change and supporting the work of the Center and other LGBT causes.

We need our LGBTQ friends and supporters to join us in engaging our Allies and understanding that affecting social change takes resources.

We want to bring our entire community together and inspire them with stories of triumph, of overcoming adversity, of life after bullying and soaring to new heights. We want you all to believe in the power of what is possible when we all lend a hand and work together.

Wanna change it? Good. Here's what YOU can do:

- Come to the Ally Campaign Kickoff and/or attend an Ally Rush Week event- we're recruiting!

- Use your voice- speak up and out on social media and in your own circles in favor of equality.

- Refuse to tolerate homophobia and transphobia and call it out when you see/hear it.

- Become a Center Partner at Affirmations- Just $10/month does amazing things

- Volunteer at Affirmations on your own, with a friend or with a date then hit the town after in downtown Ferndale

- Bring your friends and family to the Center and help them make that connection as well. Together, anything is possible.

- Courtesy Of Affirmations Community Center

For more information about Affirmations, or to learn more about the Ally Campaign, contact Angela Gabridge, Director of Development, at 248-677-7211, visit http://www.GoAffirmations.org or stop by the Center at 290 W. 9 Mile in Ferndale anytime for a personal tour.
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