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Guide to Pride 2019: How to celebrate the day and month in Detroit

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Everything you need to know about Motor City Pride and other local LGBTQ events

Participants at the Motor City Pride Parade on June 10, 2018
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Gay Pride parades (first called “Gay Liberation” marches) began in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s to bring exposure to LGBTQ civil rights issues. The parades have since expanded in popularity and support, and now take place in most major cities around the world.

In the United States, June is Pride Month. It had been celebrated for years but gained more official recognition after Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama made yearly declarations.

This area’s Gay Pride parade, Motor City Pride, first started in 1972 as a march downtown. It’s been in various parts of the metro area over the years, but moved from Ferndale to Detroit in 2011. (Though Ferndale, an LGBTQ-friendly city, still holds its own annual parade.)

Here’s everything you need to know about the festival, other events happening this month, and LGBTQ-related news.

Motor City Pride

Detroit’s annual pride event takes place at Hart Plaza on Saturday, June 8 from 1 to 9 p.m. and Sunday, June 9 from noon to 7 p.m. There’s a $5 cover charge (though youth under 12 can attend for free).

There’s three entrances to the festival: the main gate off Jefferson and Woodward avenues, the west end of the plaza by the Ford UAW building, and from the Detroit Riverwalk.

Security will be located at all the entrances and small bags are allowed. Prohibited items include firearms, animals, beverages (including water), skateboards, airhorns, and promotional materials (unless you’re a certified vendor).

As for vendors, there will be 12 food and beverage trucks selling a variety of items, including vegetarian dishes, cocktails, and beer.

Over 50 artists, including Tunde Olaniran, are slated to perform across Hart Plaza’s four stages. Other activities include a family-friendly area and remembrance for victims of LGBTQ violence.

Of course there’s the parade itself, which takes place on Sunday at noon. Marchers will gather and depart from Griswold Street south of Michigan Avenue, head down to Jefferson Avenue, go west until the Cobo Center, and then enter Hart Plaza.

Participants at Motor City Pride 2018
NurPhoto via Getty Images
Travel and weather

There’s going to be tens of thousands of festivalgoers over the weekend, so have a travel plan ready ahead of time.

If you’re driving, knowing where to park is the biggest concern. For $15, you can park on the roof of the Cobo Center or the Ford Underground Garage—though both tend to fill up quickly. According to Motor City Pride’s website, five structures in the area managed by Ultimate Parking are offering reduced rates for the weekend:

  • Port Atwater Structure on Beaubien Street East of the Renaissance Center
  • 150 Jefferson Garage
  • One Detroit Garage: 500 Woodward Avenue
  • Two Detroit Garage: 160 E. Congress Street
  • Buhl Garage: 525 Griswold Street
  • Kennedy Square Garage: 720 Griswold Street

Also, street parking is free on Sunday.

Definitely don’t forget about public transit—the bus or QLine are great options. There’s now 10 bus routes, most of which terminate downtown, that run 24 hours a day. And the new DART payment system allows you to purchase a day pass and transfer for free. If there’s no direct bus route from where you live, we recommend driving to a place with an easily accessible bus stop to avoid parking downtown altogether.

Biking is also a great option. MoGo bike share stations are located at Grand Circus Park, Brush, and Madison. And Metropolis Bikes will be offering free “bike valet” at the festival if you ride there on your own.

The current weather forecast for the weekend says it should be warm (high in the 70s), mostly sunny, with only a low chance of rain Sunday evening.

Pride Month events

There’s a lot of other Pride events happening throughout the weekend and month.

MotorBall (“the official afterparty of Motor City Pride”) happens at St. Andrews Hall on Saturday, June 8 from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Admission is $25 and all proceeds benefit World AIDS Day Detroit.

Another afterparty the same night is taking place at El Club and will feature some features hip-hop artists and DJs. Tickets are $5.

A local chorus, PRISM, which does outreach and supports LGBTQ organizations will be performing covers of local legends on June 15 at the Royal Oak Music Theater. Tickets start at $27.50.

A free summit in support of LGBTQ elders with the theme of “Building and Sustaining Connections” will take place at Wayne State University on June 22.

A new exhibition at the Detroit Historical Museum, called “Invisible No Longer: LGTBQ+ Detroit,” covers the local community and activist efforts. It’s open now through September 29.

Though it’s in July, you really should check out Hotter Than July, an annual festival that centers members of Detroit’s black LGBTQ community. It’s a weeklong affair that starts July 23 and features all kinds of musical acts, activities, and educational opportunities.

Miss an event? Let us know in the comments section.

Other news

For the first time, an LGBTQ Pride Flag was raised in Spirit Plaza. This is the third year the city has raised the iconic rainbow flag; previously it had been at Hart Plaza.

On June 4, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Detroit Free Press reports that it’s unclear if it has enough support to pass the Republican-led State Legislature.

Students at Detroit’s Renaissance High School created a “Coming Out” wall with anonymous notes arranged in a rainbow color pattern. The wall was presented at Affirmations, an LGBTQ organization in Ferndale, to kick off Pride Month.