Motor City PrideThis weekend marks the very first gay pride festival in Detroit, which moved from Ferndale to Hart Plaza this year. This event is very important to the city of Detroit, and I believe it is our duty as a community, regardless of sexual orientation, to come out and support the festival and the gay community.

Let’s be real for a minute, because there are people that might not like to talk about this issue, but an open dialogue is always very important in a growing community. Detroit needs more people. We all hope to see progress in Detroit Public Schools, but we know that the school system in its current state is not going to attract families down to the city. Among other problems, Detroit is not quite yet ready for a large influx of families, so we have to look in other directions to get more people in the city.

The people that we are trying to attract are mostly young adults. We are seeing a very diverse and progressive group of people starting to take interest in the city. Events that we attend are spruced with people of all ethnicities, orientations and beliefs who empathize and co-exist into a massive melting pot of ideas and inspirations. The college grads, the hipsters, the beatniks, the DINKs, (dual-income no kids) and the LGBT community are exactly what this city needs to see a positive turnaround. We need artists, entrepreneurs, musicians, servers, bartenders, designers and beauticians. If we want to see our cities grow we must embrace and reach out to many groups of people, and become one community, while celebrating our differences.

I’m trying hard to avoid stereotypes here, but let’s face it. The LGBT community has done many wonderful things for other cities all around the world. Most notably in places like San Francisco and Minneapolis. They bring a culture and a positive vibe to the community that is lively, fun and exciting. Even here in Detroit, when the state government started to crack down on electronic music parties, the scene was kept alive mostly by underground gay after-hours night clubs, where many gay and straight fans of techno music would go to find refuge, and I’ve always had an immense respect for that. We have all struggled together, in many ways. But we can all come together and unite under a common banner: the re-birth of Detroit.

Our acceptance of the gay community is also important to the more family-oriented and suburban types as well. They will be more likely to support and spend their money in the city, attend sporting events and seek entertainment in a more gay-friendly and socially tolerant environment.

Many have felt the sting of hatred that has dwelled in the city of Detroit for decades. We have all been a victim, in some way or another, of racial and cultural discrimination. We have been separated by Detroit’s tradition of keeping classes of people apart, dividing us with highways and invisible lines that say you belong here, and you belong here. We can work hard to restore the city and make it great again, but if we continue to let ourselves be divided, it will all be for naught. This is not just a rant to support a specific group of people, but a call to be more open-minded and accepting of all types of people, so that Detroit will reach its true potential.

Motor City Pride takes place at Hart Plaza and runs from 3pm to 11pm on Saturday, June 4th, and 12pm to 7pm on Sunday, June 5th. The Pride parade takes place on Woodward Avenue and starts at 11pm on Sunday.

For more information visit Motor City Pride on the web.

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