Holly Lanes Hosting LGBT and Friends Night to Connect Around Equality

Crystal A. Proxmire

Following the Oct. 11 decision by the Village of Holly Council not to adopt a human rights ordinance that would have given LGBT people the same civil rights at other marginalized groups, the folks at Holly Lanes are welcoming the LGBT community and allies with open arms. They are hosting a LGBT and Friends night Wednesday to bring the community together.

"As a business owner and member of the community I'm saddened by the decision of the council. We all have the right to run our businesses the way we like with as little government regulation as possible. However, what we do not have is the right to discriminate based on who someone else is, regardless of the ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. If any one person out of any one of those groups comes in and then an issue occurs then you have the right to ask them to follow your business guidelines, but at that point you're reacting to the action of the person, not the person themselves. It is not our job to pre-qualify a potential customer, that is simply wrong and unethical. It's not a property rights issue, it's a human rights issue. I'm sure if you were told sorry you cannot come into my business because I do not like you, you'd take exception to that, I know I would," said Holly Lanes owner Brian Aubuchon.

The bowling alley's sign announced that the event takes place Wednesday evening. Their Facebook page explains it as "An open night for all to attend and we really want to pack the place. We have invited all candidates to come discuss the issues pertaining to OUR community so all sides can have an honest open and FRIENDLY discussion about issues that affect EVERYONE. Plus we can break bread have a beverage and just enjoy!"

Holly Lanes is located at 2430 Grange Hall Rd. and the gathering begins at 6 p.m. on Oct. 19.

Others in the community - businesses and residents - have discussed the ordinance in the days since the vote, where only Village Council President Ryan Bladzik voted yes.

"As a straight person, this may come out sounding silly, but I'm not sure how else to word it. I don't look at LGBT as a separate community. I have so many friends and family that are gay. I don't say, 'oh, that's so and so, my lesbian friends. They are just MY FRIENDS," said Deanna Turner who owns Past Tense Books.

"I would never, ever, treat anyone differently, professionally or personally. That is simply not how I was raised. But all people of every race, creed, orientation, etc. are welcome at my store. I want my store to be a place of peace, literacy, conversation. Happiness. Lord knows I spend more time talking than pricing books. I believe love is love. And everyone should be treated equally."

Aubuchon hopes that the in-person gathering at Holly Lanes will help people better understand the issue. The event is open to the public and local organizations in favor of equality have been invited to attend as well.

Apart from cities that have local ordinances, it is legal in Michigan to fire someone for being LGBTQ or otherwise gender-nonconforming. It is legal for a landlord to throw someone out if they learn they are LGBT, or not show houses to a couple because they are gay. It is legal for stores to turn away customers because they do not want to serve people based on their sexual orientation or their gender expression. Similar practices were used historically to mistreat people of color, people with disabilities, and women. Civil rights laws eventually reduced the amount of violence, threats, harassment and challenges faced by people in those groups by affirming their right to be treated equally under the law.

Because the law cannot protect them, LGBT people face discrimination or the fear of discrimination in a way that impacts their day-to-day lives. Many feel they have to hide who they are because of the risk of losing their jobs, their homes, or their ability to be in public in their communities because of the practices of those who think that LGBT people deserve to be treated as less than equal human beings.

Over 40 municipalities have enacted local human rights ordinances to protect LGBT people while in their community including Detroit, Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Grand Rapids, Huntington Woods, Lansing, Lathrup Village, Muskegon, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak, Southfield and the Village of Lake Orion. In several cases, such as Ferndale and Royal Oak, ordinances were not passed on the first attempt and residents were able to bring the matter to a public vote by citizen petitions.

For the latest updates from Holly Lanes and discussion, check out their Facebook post.


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