HTJ Pride Picnic Preview

By Jason A. Michael

It's the centerpiece of Detroit's weeklong black gay pride celebration. The pride picnic, which takes place Saturday in Palmer Park, has been a crowd favorite since Hotter Than July began in 1996. It's attracted tens of thousands of people throughout the years, including everybody from famous authors (James Earl Hardy, Keith Boykin, Stanley Bennett Clay), performers (The Lady Chablis, Cyon Flare, April Summers), politicians (Kwame Kilpatrick, Benny Napoleon, Maryann Mahaffey) and porn stars (Bobby Blake, Flex Dion, Ty Lattimore).

"This year I think we have more live talent showcasing the local LGBT community," said David Nelson, co-chair of the HTJ picnic planning committee.

Nelson has booked local artists such as Logan Mario, Crystal Grundy, Izaya Cole and Imara Rhiannon this year. Also on board are Cierra Malone and Ramon Harris as hosts.

This is Nelson's second year working on the picnic.

"Last year was my first year doing it under Curtis (Lipscomb, executive director of KICK, the agency that coordinates HTJ)," Nelson said. "He gave me a lot of leeway to do my thing. That's how I got to do it this year."

Nelson said coordinating the event is challenging.

"You have to deal with a lot of different personalities and you have to fit in what everybody wants pride to look like without saying, 'Hey, your idea's stupid,'" Nelson said with a laugh.

But after all the planning is over, the magic happens. And Nelson is expecting a lot of it this year.

"My hope for this year's picnic is, first off, for it not to be rained out," he said. "Then my hope is for it to bring everybody together more. I want us to be able to show the community and the world that LGBT communities are not just full of drama. We're actually here to be together and work toward better lives."

What's the best part of the HTJ Pride Picnic?

Lewis Smith:

It's an opportunity to learn of so many ways to help uplift the community. I never knew just how many organizations there were that benefited Detroit's LGBT community in so many ways.

Darius Baty:

The best thing about the picnic in the park is the display of family unity in the community.

Chris Sutton:

The Palmer Park Picnic is truly a family reunion of our ever-growing LGBT community. Like the core values of Hotter Than July itself, the picnic is built to empower and unite people of all colors, genders and sexualities. It's a Detroit tradition that I look forward to every year.

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