Allies Must Rise Up As We Welcome All To Ferndale Pride



By Dan Martin
Originally printed 5/29/2014 (Issue 2222 - Between The Lines News)

As I watched my friends rush to the courthouses to marry on March 22nd my heart swelled with joy; when the stay came down just hours after lifting the ban, I felt a sick pit in my stomach. I watched helplessly as friends' Facebook feeds read "rushing to the court house, just found out I can't get married anymore...devastated." As an outspoken ally of the LGBTQ community, it pains me to see LGBTQ people constantly denied the right that I am afforded because I was born straight. Here we are in the 21st century, and yet it is still legal to fire someone in Michigan because they are not part of the majority. It's time for the majority to come out in droves to support our LGBTQ friends and family so that they never have to face job, marriage, adoption or any other form of discrimination for simply being LGBTQ.

As an active member of the City of Ferndale and a council member, I am proud that Ferndale has been at the forefront leading the way for equality and recognition of all people. While I am proud of my city for taking a positive stand, our city remains the exception, not the rule. We can change this, but we can't leave it on the backs of only LGBTQ people.

Simply having LGBTQ friends helps but is not enough. Giving personal support to LGBTQ friends helps but is also not enough. Allies must rise up with a strong and visible voice of support to bring other allies out of the ally closest. We must show up at events, we must show up at rallies and we must show up in the voting booths. We have so much power to change the world for our LGBTQ friends and family simply because there are statistically more of us. We can be a real force for change and we can accomplish this mission quickly.

This year May 31st will kick off the pride season in Ferndale. Ferndale Pride allows the LGBTQ community to celebrate their identity and essence through this festival, in a supportive family-friendly environment. As thousands take to the streets to celebrate individualism and diversity, do not come to the event in silence. Allies proclaim it if you are there. Come enjoy the festival, but also seek out ways that you can make changes that will last longer than our weekend's festivities. Ferndale Pride is a free event thanks to many local businesses such as Motor City Casino Hotel and Blue Care Network of Michigan who sponsor the event. These companies, who are on the forefront of providing an equal work environment for their employees, are taking a stand for equality.

Of course, Ferndale Pride is not just about taking a visible stand for equality; it is about joining with family, friends and neighbors to celebrate our mutual community. Real inclusion is not successful if it is not practiced. Ferndale Pride is, at its heart, a celebration of love and of hope for a vision of justice that we as a society keep moving toward. It's also about celebration and having fun. You cannot leave Ferndale Pride without feeling uplifted and more optimistic. You will leave exhausted but energized, powered by the spirit of the wonderful group of people Ferndale Pride draws.

We allies need to be as supportive as we can of this cause during this critical time. These are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our children and our friends. While we cannot speak from a position of knowing exactly what they are experiencing in their discrimination, we can act against a wrong when we see and know one. If we do anything else, we are as guilty as those who would continue to perpetrate hateful actions and beliefs. Ferndale Pride is important for all of us as a way to engage and carry that advocacy forward in our daily lives. This is probably the greatest reason that Ferndale Pride is so important.

On May 31st, join us for Ferndale Pride and then continue to be a voice for change at Ally Rush Week at Affirmations, which will kick off May 31st as well.

We will also have an incredible amount of fun. Please come out and join us in downtown Ferndale and bring your friends and family. I can't wait to see you there.

Dan Martin is the Mayor Pro-Tem of the City of Ferndale and Chairperson of the Ferndale Community Foundation
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