Ann Arbor Pride to Take Over Main Street for the First Time

Ann Arbor’s 2023 Pride is going to take over Main Street for the first time in its 28 year history, August 5.

The family-friendly LGBTQ+ event will take up the heart of downtown’s main drag from William to Washington Streets, according to Jim Toy Center President Joe Halsch. This is a big move for Ann Arbor Pride, which has historically been hosted in Kerrytown, as shown in the photos provided by the Jim Toy Center.

Headliner, Aja, with the crowd at Ann Arbor Pride 2019. Image Credit Jim Toy Community Center.
Ann Arbor Pride  2019 volunteers. Image Credit Jim Toy Community Center.

“This year is set up to be our biggest year yet,” Halsch said. “For me Pride is not just a celebration but a connecting point. My hope is that in designing these experiences our community can find additional communities, and can take these experiences and connections out of Pride to help them all year long.”

While pre-Covid Prides took place in Kerrytown, the celebrations had to go online for a number of years, but now they will be on Main Street. The main Pride festival will go from 12-9 p.m. Saturday, August 5.

But this is just the main part of a weekend-long celebration of queer life in Ann Arbor. The event will start off with drag bingo at Conor O’Neill’s at 6 p.m. on Friday. Tickets will need to be purchased in advance on Eventbrite to attend.

On Friday, the Ann Arbor YMCA will also have a friends and family dinner starting at 6 p.m. Across town, Necto, the nightclub famous for its weekly LGBT Friday nights, will have an 18+ Hero’s vs. Villains kickoff party.

Main stage from Ann Arbor Pride 2019 in Kerrytown. Image Credit: Jim Toy Center.A music stage will be set up Saturday for numerous acts according to a press release provided by Halsch. This will include live music and two drag shows:

Main stage from Ann Arbor Pride 2019 in Kerrytown. Image Credit: Jim Toy Community Center.

Geo Glam from the 2019 Ann Arbor Pride Main Stage
Geo Glam from the 2019 Ann Arbor Pride Main Stage. Image Credit Jim Toy Community Center.

Over 50 vendors are going be present at the main festival, providing everything from queer business booths, to merchandise, to community organizations, to food. Some of the vendors include the Alzheimer’s Association, Chunkysequins Shop, Equality Michigan,Fjällräven, Gage Cannabis, House of Kofi, MishaBella Creations,Roof, Necto Nightclub, Planned Parenthood of Michigan/Advocates, SafeHouse Center and Ypsi Pride.

“Our festival would not be possible without the support of our sponsors and vendors,” said Pedro Coracides, assistant director for Ann Arbor Pride. “Our over 50 sponsors and vendors will provide a wide variety of services and goods to attendees. Additionally, folks will be able to visit businesses participating in our Dine and Shop Guide. Participating businesses will donate a portion of sales from that day to Ann Arbor Pride.”

There will also be a follow up celebratory Drag Brunch at the Blue Llama Jazz Club from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 6.

This year’s Pride comes in a year that has set yet another record for anti-LGBT legislation in statehouses across the country. The Human Rights Council found last May that at least 520 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced just this year; with a heightened intensity of laws intended to limit the public visibility of trans Americans in public spaces, school sports and healthcare.

Things have been different in Michigan however since the Democratic Party swept statewide control in the 2022 midterms. Some religious conservatives cried foul when the Michigan Legislature amended the Elliot Larson Civil Rights Act of 1976 which bans discrimination “based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status”  to include anti-discrimination protections based on sexuality and gender identity.

Jadein Black says this year's Ann Arbor Pride will be the biggest in years.
Jadein Black says this year’s Ann Arbor Pride will be the biggest in years.

Several politicians are also likely to come to voice their support for Ann Arbor’s LGBT community.

“LGBTQ people are integral to who we are. They are Us.  The right-wing political-media machine needs to generate fear and hate to survive. We reject that project. Ann Arbor embraces and supports every single member of our LGBTQ community,” Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor said.

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