Rocking The Calder For Equality

West Michigan Pride

BTL Staff

GRAND RAPIDS-The 26th Annual Grand Rapids Pride Festival packed Calder Plaza this past weekend, filling downtown GR with rainbow flags and loving couples.

The LGBT Network, who took control of Pride planning after an eight-year hiatus, presented the festival. Celebrations kicked off with a parade at noon through downtown GR ending at the entrance. April DeBoer, Jayne Rowse and their children were the 2014 Grand Marshals.

"This year we had more of a crowd watching. It was huge," Executive Director of The LGBT Network Christina Wade said. "I couldn't even imagine. This year it was crazy how many extra floats we had and walkers. I was amazed. And all of a sudden we had this huge line at the gate."

West Michigan Pride hosted roughly 80 vendors and only cost one dollar to get in. There were 10 different performances in 45 minute blocks that shook the stage, showcasing Potatoe Babies, DJ Craig Allen, WMGMC and many more, including a drag show.

Yogi Whitt, an officer with The LGBT Network, said that Pride is an opportunity for LGBT residents to celebrate their community.

"We want to bring awareness to the fact that who we are has changed," she said. "We're parents. We raise families. We work. We do the same things that everyone else does. The only difference is who we love."

But not all of the roughly 7k people who showed up to West Michigan Pride were LGBT allies or friendly for that matter.

Christine Weick, most known for getting a slushy thrown on her on Mother's Day as she stood on Grandville in GR with a sign that read "Thank your mom today for not being gay," came out with a new sign made for Pride: "Warning, God draws a line on gay marriage."

Weick was there throughout the day, standing on the other side of a fence dividing her from The LGBT Network's booth. Wood8TV reported that Pride month highlights a still divided Michigan and met with Weick during Pride.

"We offered her waters and to come in and use the porta-john. Wanted to show that all we want is compassion and equality," Wade smiled. "We treated her like anyone else in the community, with open arms. She didn't really get it. But at least we know that we were better."

More protesters were seen at West Michigan Pride but were evacuated from the festival around 2 p.m. by Grand Rapids police because they didn't have licenses for the megaphones they used to holler slanderous comments and harass attendees.

"We really lucked out with the weather, with such a gorgeous day," Wade said. "Everybody was in such good sprits. Our Pride committee rocked it out of the park! I was so proud of just how well my committee and us pulled together for the first time in so long."

Sponsors for West Michigan Pride included Jeffery Richard Salon, Michael Kooistra Realtor, 5/3 Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aerial 4 Me, LGBTee's, Griffin Properties, Bar Fly Ventures, Honest to Goodness Tattooing and Piercing, Steelcase Inc., Rumors, Vito's Pizza and Brewery Vivant.

<For more information on West Michigan Pride and to see photos of the event visit http://www.grlgbt.org/ or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TheLGBTNetwork/timeline. >


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