NEXTGen Detroit Pride members pose with their finished products at the Painting with a Twist event hosted by the group.

NEXTGen Detroit Pride Celebrates a Year of Service

Young Adult Group with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit Turns One in May

BY JASON A. MICHAEL

It was the brainchild of Sam Dubin. After graduating from Central Michigan University in 2014, Dubin returned home to Metro Detroit. He quickly became involved with NEXTGen Detroit, the young adult division of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

"I started getting involved with NEXTGen Detroit simply by going to events and meeting people and learning the fundamentals of the Jewish community back home," Dubin said.

Soon enough, he had joined the board.

"I decided I wanted to apply for the board of directors for NEXTGen," said Dubin. "I got on and this is my second year on the board."

Shortly after joining the board, Dubin came out as gay.

"I'm really one that follows whatever passion that I have and try to do something about it," said Dubin. "I was really oblivious of the LGBT community at that point, specifically the LGBT Jewish community or lack thereof. I have a lot of gay friends who I grew up with, none of which live in Detroit. A lot of gay Jews here haven't historically found that they've had a home in Detroit. I've always felt that I have had a home here. So I knew I wanted to do something about that."

To that end, Dubin set about creating a new branch of NEXTGen Detroit.

"We pitched a broad idea of NEXTGen Detroit Pride," recalled Dubin. "It didn't have a name at that point. We just knew that we wanted to reach out to our Jewish LGBT young adults. So that was really the start of the creation of what would soon become NEXTGen Detroit Pride."

Since the group's inception a year ago in May, NEXTGen Detroit Pride has produced a bi-monthly series of events in LGBT-friendly areas like Ferndale and Royal Oak including a launch party at Pronto, GAYme Night at MBrew, Painting with a Twist, a post-election forum at Affirmations, a Shabbat dinner and a story slam at Chazzano Coffee.

Response, Dubin said, has been great.

"It's honestly been astounding," he said. "We're really hitting our goals. Starting this just really broadly, one goal was to create an environment where people felt comfortable coming out - that really hit home for me - then creating an environment for people who were already out. For that demographic we've created a community within the Jewish community that's never existed before. We have so many new faces coming to our events who they have told me they had not felt they had a place in our community up until this point."

Steven Davis sits on the NEXTGen Detroit Pride planning committee. He, too, is happy with their first year's progress.

"I am proud of the events that NextGen Detroit Pride has produced so far and am excited at the direction the group is going," Davis said. "Our initial goal was to put out a calendar of events that brought the community together every other month. In accomplishing our goal, we have done both social and religious programming that has attracted as many as 30 participants at a single event."

Moving forward, NEXTGen Detroit Pride plans to host a barbecue to celebrate their one-year anniversary. They also plan to have a booth at this year's Ferndale Pride.

"Not only are we seeing a lot of new faces but we're seeing a lot of returning faces at our events," said Dubin. "We're actually becoming friends outside of the formal NEXTGen Detroit Pride structure. Long-term, what I would love to see happen is let' say there's a gay U of M senior and they have to decide between going to Chicago or coming back to Detroit after college. I would love for them to know that NEXTGen Detroit Pride exists."

For more information about NEXTGen Detroit, visit their website or their Facebook page.
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