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Lansing Pride celebrations honor past, future of the movement

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One can’t help wondering what organizers of the Stonewall Bar protest in New York 50 years ago, bringing global attention to state-sanctioned violence against LGBTQ+ people, would have thought of a national month-long observance where fly-over cities around the world draw crowds waving rainbow flags.

Stonewall’s organizers would probably be even more shocked to learn about the expansion of the movement, which now includes over a dozen LGBTQ+ flags recognizing various genders, sexual orientations and preferences. With the evolution of the movement in mind, Leigha Faith, co-chairwoman for Michigan Pride, was intentional about highlighting the voices of transgender and racial minorities in this year’s festivities.

“Honestly we wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the people who came before us,” Faith said.

Saturday’s events will begin with a march to the Capitol from Adado Riverfront Park, led by Attorney General Dana Nessel. On its ivory steps, four speakers have been invited to address the crowd at the Capitol, in addition to board members of Michigan Pride and Lansing residents. The speakers offer a range of perspectives from a state politician to a transgender teenager navigating the public school system.

As the march begins, the festival will get underway on Turner Street in Old Town from noon to 10 p.m. with a loaded line-up of entertainers, vendors and adult beverages.

Musicians from the mitten and beyond will appear on the Old Town stage, including New-York hip hop duo New Fame at 5:30 p.m., who opened for hip-hop icons such as Talib Kweli and comedian Hannibal Burress. Tell Yo Mama will close the show at 8 p.m. And it wouldn’t be Michigan Pride without appearances from Emma Sapphire and Sabin, who have returned to Lansing to serve high-heeled energy in their drag performances.

A $10 donation is requested but not required for entry. Faith said the LGBTQ nonprofit is still in need of volunteers to help with day of activities. Signing up to volunteer will result in a free event t-shirt and wristband. To find volunteer requirements and more, go to the events page on michiganpride.org.

“Not a single penny is paid to people to who run, execute, organize or has anything to do with the pride events and we are one of the few in the state where that is true,” Faith said.

Faith added that the proceeds made from selling wristbands will “go back into the community” whether it be a donation to Salus Center, a local LGBTQ resource center, or next year’s production.

2019 Pride Rally Speakers:

Dana Nessel, attorney general of Michigan and grand marshal

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor

Phiwa Langeni, director of Salus Center

Shane Shananaquet, transgender teen

Pride Michigan board members

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