Douglas holds first LGBTQ pride event

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Kylie Elwell

On Saturday, June 1, the city of Douglas, Michigan held an event for the LGTBQ community in celebration of Pride Month. Besides Grand Rapids, Douglas and Ludington are some of the only towns in west Michigan to have pride events.

Before the 1970s, it was socially unacceptable to live openly as a member of the LGBTQ community, with both people and police alike displaying distaste toward the community. This event was arranged to honor the iconic Stonewall uprising and its impact on equality in the U.S.

“Everyone is invited to this community event,” said Dale Lower, the organizer of this event. “All are welcome to come and learn more about Stonewall and celebrate the fight for equality with us.”

The Douglas Pride Committee, composed of six community activists, spent three months planning the event, ranging from deciding the main events to what information they would be presenting to guests.

“Each of us had a unique talent and we melded beautifully,” said committee member Liz Engel. “(We are) a respectful group with only good intentions in mind.”

While Douglas is known for their LGBTQ history and support, this is the first pride event held by the city. Over 750 people attended, with about 40 vendors participating. Singers, speakers, activities for children, a car show and more made this first event memorable and special.

“We were excited for our first Pride event,” Engel said. “(We are) excited that all are welcome and that we had a giving community that welcomed the event.”

In June 1969, a police raid on Stonewall Inn in New York City led to violent demonstrations against police by the LGBTQ community. The riots soon led to protests and a fight for equality. In commemoration of the Stonewall riots, June has been named LGBTQ Pride Month.