Jessica Roshek, Kathy Adamek, Pam Kwiatkowski and Michell Reeve after the Rainbow Run.

Ferndale Pride Kicks Off Pride Month

Gay In May

AJ Trager

FERNDALE There couldn't have been more perfect weather for Ferndale Pride this past Saturday. It was hot, really hot, both the weather and the people. Celebrations lasted all day and well into the evening. There were hula hoopers and Queens of Drag, beer and booths aplenty and a main stage ripe with energy that kept Pride attendees dancing all throughout the scorching day.

Over 80 different organizations came out to show their support for the LGBT community passing out the usual stickers, informational pamphlets, pens and, of course, plenty of condoms and safe sex packets. Among the list of participants were Transgender Michigan, Dykes on Bikes Detroit, Mr. Friendly, Allstate, GLSEN, Motor City Bears and AIDS Walk Detroit/HELP just to name a few.

Starting off the festivities was the Rainbow Run 5K before the opening ceremony at 1 p.m. Participants could be seen all day sporting heavy coats of pink, orange, blue and green, saturated from head to toe and really showing their LGBT support. Bride Stripped Bare took the stage just after 1:30 p.m. and it was all glam until sundown.

It was also the first day of Affirmations' Ally Rush Week and things looked to be going quite well, the Center was rocking it all day. If you saw somebody in a black shirt that said "Peer Educator," you ran into the Affirmations street team. They had loud horns and enthusiastic stickers that said "EXTRA QUEER," "EXTRA BI," "EXTRA TRANS," OR "EXTRA ALLY," and a photo stand to get your pic taken next to the hard working Affirmations team.

"Well it's the first day of Ally Rush Week and it's going really well," Director of Communications Cass Varner said. She was standing outside with Director of Development Angela Gabridge, manning the photo station.

"Yeah, turnout so far has been great," Gabridge said. "This is going to be a great week for allies."

Around 4 p.m. the humidity reached a peak while the Wedding and Commitment Ceremony came to a close. But Pride kept on going with the same ferocity it brought at the beginning of the day.

John Cox, Mark Queentry and Blake Scheer were there with their friends, refreshments in hand, sunglasses on their faces. They've been coming to Ferndale Pride for years and live right around the corner from Nine Mile and Woodward. This past March, Scheer married his longtime partner.

"We got married March 22. So we're legal," Scheer said with a smile.

"I was there and got the marriage license and I think it was about an hour after that, they were like 'no,'" Scheer frowned. "People are just tired of it (the marriage ban), and they want to be out here and show their support and be seen. And they want to show that, you know what, love is love and I think it definitely helps."

Collectively they all thought Pride was bigger this year and better than the last. And they want to see it continue to grow.

"It seems like more people are out and about. Seems to be more festive, and not having the beer garden thing doesn't seem to be a big deal. And it's a beautiful day," Queentry said. "It's a beautiful day in Ferndale."

"There's definitely more people. More booths. And I think the overall vibe is a lot better, too. With the (marriage) ruling and everything that we're kinda waiting on, I think a lot of people are out here to show their support," Cox said. "I want to see it keep getting bigger. Ferndale Pride back to where it was. Expand."

And what are they doing after pride? "Well, that's a personal question," Cox joked. But they do plan to barbeque and continue their Pride celebrations.

Walking past Rosie O'Grady's was a couple holding hands and pointing at a cutie in a rainbow tutu. A sign on Lashae Wright's shirt read, "I'm with her" and had an arrow pointing towards Simone Brown who had the same sign, "I'm with her." This was their first Pride and they found the experience to be fun and really different.

"I like the environment. It seems open. I like how they make you feel comfortable," Wright said.

They were both surprised at the amount of religion-oriented booths and would like to see less of those in the future. The two plan on attending Motor City Pride next week and are ready to see how different Pride looks in the big city.

When BTL met up with Rachel Weisserman and her friend and Pride virgin Kasenia Malkin, they were petting one of the many pups that came out to Ferndale to show their LGBT support. Weisserman had a purple tank on with a rainbow necklace whereas Malkin was all color in a floral dress.

"I'm loving it. Really enjoying people watching," Weisserman said. "Being in a place where I know everybody is going to be queer or queer friendly or something like that, it's nice to be the majority for once. For one day. So I love that."

Malkin told BTL that she was still getting her sea legs for the "whole Pride thing" but she was excited and having a blast. The two would like to see more interactive activities added to the event schedule for next year, some kind of mixer or game to get attendees interacting.

Pride might be fabulous but, with the recent decision on gay marriage in Michigan, the push for equality was on everybody's radar.

"I've seen a lot of people who are very much pushing the marriage idea. I think now that it happened for a while people are more committed to it than ever. I think getting that taste made people see that it was possible. I think it's just going to encourage people to fight for their rights," Weisserman said.

"Everybody here is beautiful," Weisserman added.

"She actually stole my comment. I was going to say everybody here is sexy," Malkin laughed.

If you weren't there you missed out. But Pride isn't over yet for Metro Detroit. Motor City Pride happens this weekend, downtown Detroit in Hart Plaza.

For more pictures of Ferndale Pride and to see more stories visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ferndalepride?fref=ts.
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