Arts & Entertainment
Gay Detroit: A Message From The Ground
KICK Executive Director Talks LGBT Detroit
Originally printed 1/3/2013 (Issue 2101 - Between The Lines News)
Recently there was an article released by CBS Detroit News headlined: "Survey: Detroit Most Dangerous U.S. City for Gays" (Dec. 5, 2012). There were accusations factored into this ideology stating that the reasoning for this is due to Detroit having "a slumping economy, increase in crime, high number of landmark gay bars closing and a severe lack of smart accommodations."
That paints a picture of Detroit's metropolitan area as uninhabitable space for those that are LGBT. Bruvion brought these factors to light in a survey implemented by Alternative Luxury Travel, a gay owned and operated full service travel company specializing in luxury and adventure travel. Never heard of them.
Though there are some truths to these things, it doesn't hold true completely. Detroit is far from the brutal picture painted for its LGBT residents and visitors. We have many successes under our belts and progress continues to be made.
I am a Detroit native and resident, an out gay man since 15 years of age, and I've been with my partner for over 13 years. Professionally, I am the executive director for KICK, the Agency for LGBT African-Americans here in Detroit. KICK's mission is to increase awareness of and support to Detroit's dynamic LGBT culture, through education and advocacy with integrity and pride.
There are several movements within the agency of KICK that oppose such thoughts of despair in the city limits. A non-profit organization for 10 years now, we are organizers of the third oldest black social justice and equality celebration, Hotter Than July. KICK also has the LEAD Academy (Learn Educate Advocate Drive), a social justice program for LGBT youth ages 18 to 30 training the next generation of LGBT members to be leaders within their community.
This program alone has been massively successful and accumulated great buzz in gay news in Detroit, acquiring front-page articles in Michigan's LGBT publication Between The Lines, as well as video interviews on participants with Model D and The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.
Detroit is definitely a city that is on the move. Many things that are overlooked due to the "outside looking in" approach taken when it comes to what is broadcasted to the masses. We are engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the U.S., bringing in $11,926,948 from the CDC in funding, making up 2.1% of the U.S. total per the fiscal year of 2010 http://www.statehealthfacts.org.
It is not to be overlooked that we are progressing in the development of our city and combating the issue of homelessness and poverty.
Two local shelters, Turning Point and Haven Inc., for domestic violence and sexual abuse are in the midst of capital projects to help them better meet rising demand for their services, collectively in the process of garnering approximately $16 million to go towards these expansions http://www.crainsdetroit.com.
The diversity and culture of Detroit is like no other in the country. We have several LGBT establishments that are available for whatever you desire. Just to name a few, there's SoHo in Ferndale and Woodward Bar & in Grill, our oldest LGBT-serving establishment, in the heart of Midtown Detroit.
There are also gay friendly restaurants such as Pronto's and Rosie O'Grady's, both catering to the straight and LGBT community. In the heart of the city we have several museums, historic sites and events surrounding the arts. All of these things happen on a daily and quarterly basis, opposing the thought of Detroit being anything less than an attraction for LGBT residents and visitors.
Aside from the local attractions, I believe that we should not get caught up in the thought that everywhere we visit will be a completely safe environment for our community. There are dangers in every urban environment you may decide to visit across America as a member of the LGBT community.
As Michiganders, we are diving headfirst into the fight for human rights, petitioning for an amendment to Michigan's civil rights law (The Elliot Larsen Act) to include sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class so that discrimination on the most practical levels can cease. There are historic alliances being made between our agency with the Detroit Police Department to help with LGBT sensitivity trainings - as well as bringing to light the intolerance for our community within the city - that is proving to be successful by the participation of dedicated Detroit Police Department leadership.
Detroit is prime placement for those wishing to find a new home in the Midwest region. We are two hours away from several prominent universities; we have the largest Arabic population outside of the Middle East. These things attribute to the welcoming diversity and culture of our city in spite of the naysayers and negativity thrown about.
It is one thing to be concerned about the safety of others when visiting new cities, but it is another altogether to make a statement based on limited information. We should further research and take the steps to visit a city, town, region, municipality and township before we cast it away and deem it as unsafe - furthermore the "most dangerous." There are dangers all around us as LGBT people. Our safety depends more on being aware of our surroundings and conducting ourselves as we are in unfamiliar territory, and not on what others say isn't safe for us in regards to hearsay and not facts.
If anyone wants to know more about gay Detroit from the ground, give me a call at 313-285-9733. Even if you work for a full service travel company specializing in luxury and adventure travel. I'll show you a good time!Curtis Lipscomb graduated from Cass Technical High School in Detroit, and Parsons School of Design in New York. Currently he is the executive director of KICK - The Agency of LGBT African-Americans at The Center In Detroit; the winner of the 2012 Black Male Engagement (BME) Challenge, the co-planner of the 2012 national White House Conference of LGBT Housing and Homelessness at Wayne State University, member of the National Black Justice Coalition's augural Leadership Advisory Council and was featured in Who's Who in Black Detroit. See the original article Lipscomb addresses at http://gaybe.am/y1 KICK's mission is to increase awearness of and support to Detroit's dynamic LGBT culture through education and advocacy with integrity and pride. Find KICK online at http://www.E-KICK.org. Follow KICK on Twitter at @KICKDetroit
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