The scene at Traverse City’s F&M Park on Saturday afternoon’s Pride Picnic before the Visibility March was fun filled and colorful with thousands of people and their kids dressed in costumes and flags, sporting Pride’s signature rainbow colors, while their dogs' hats, bows and kerchiefs sent the same message, all supporting our LGBTQ community.
Traverse City’s mayor, Jim Carruthers’s, himself an out gay man, spoke of the evolution in thinking that this area has seen since he first moved here some thirty years ago. He talked about how it wasn’t safe to be an out LGBTQ person back then, and that while we still have a ways to go, it is much improved today. Jim stressed how amazing it is to think that there now is the possibility that we could see a gay, married man in the White House next year.
Chasten Buttigieg, husband of Democratic presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, is a native of TC, who graduated from Traverse City West High School. He underscored that progress has indeed been made that affords LGBTQ people to be who they really are in public. He told everyone present that they are loved and cared for just as they are. He also emphasized that the battle must be fought daily to ensure that these hard-won rights are preserved; that the day’s planned Pride Visibility event was not a parade but a march to defend those rights.
Chasten introduced Dana Nessel, Michigan’s Attorney General and Grand Marshal of the march. Dana cheered the fact that so many people turned out in support and took a selfie of herself against the backdrop of the crowd. She promised that as long as she is Attorney General, she will fight to enforce LGBTQ rights and further their cause. She related a case she was involved in where a female doctor refused to treat a newborn infant on the grounds that it was against her religion because the baby had two mother’s who were married. Dana related that she told the doctor that if her religion told her to deny treatment to infants or anyone, based on the structure of their family, that she ought to get a new religion and maybe consider not being a doctor at all! She also reiterated that she will continue to bring lawsuits against Trump and his administration’s egregious policies despite advice that she shouldn’t be spending so much time doing so.
At this point, the march began, led off with rainbow, balloon covered letters spelling “Pride” carried high,and rainbow arches flying. The marchers poured into the street and proceeded downtown past throngs of sidewalk watchers to culminate in the Open Space along the Bay.
As an attendee at the picnic and march, I was thrilled and proud to see the outstanding level of support and participation of the people of our town and surrounding communities for LGBTQ people who are part and parcel of who we are. We sent the message that here in the Northwoods, we welcome diversity of all kinds, as one of the strengths that help to make America great. Thanks to everyone who participated!