Mayor Chris Taylor declared June 2023 LGBTQ+ Pride Month once again this June. Before members of Ann Arbor’s LGBTQ+ community, Taylor proclaimed the city a safe space against what he called “the right wing hate machine” threatening the community.
“I think this declaration is really important as an LGBTQ+ resident of Ann Arbor, because it recognizes this really unique moment that we’re in in 2023 where LGBT people are experiencing attacks in the state legislatures, pride celebrations, at school board meetings and it articulates how Ann Arbor really stands out as a city that values diversity and inclusion, specifically for members of the LGBT community,” Naomi Goldberg, who volunteers as the LGBT liaison to Mayor Taylor, said.
Ann Arbor has done this a number of times under Taylor’s leadership. Specifically the declaration, which was made without a vote, celebrates Ann Arbor’s “historic place” in the generations long fight for queer rights, celebrates the city’s longstanding ban on conversion therapy, laments anti-trans bills that have proliferated throughout state legislatures and declares Ann Arbor once again to be a LGBTQ+friendly place.
“I moved here from Maryland a few years ago. Maryland was great too. But having gone to Alabama and Georgia … for grad school … having experienced life in communities that are not as open and accepting, its’ really a breath of fresh air to live here and be my full self openly,” Sean Reynolds, a member of the community who works for the city as the Community Sustainability Coordinator, said.
One of the most all-encompassing flashpoints of the culture wars has been a fight in recent years over bills that restrict or attack the LGBTQ+ community.
State legislatures have introduced 491 anti-LGBTQ+ bills just this year, as of June 9, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, a civil rights legal defense non-profit.
Michigan has been a notable counterexample since the 2022 Midterms, when the Michigan Democratic Party won full control of both the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the Legislature for the first time since the Regan era.
Last January, they passed an amendment to the Elliot-Larsen Act of 1976 to add LGBTQ+ protections to the law, which already banned discrimination based on “race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status.”
LGBTQ+ rights continue to be a major dividing line across the country and across every state. The violence and threats of physical violence against LGBTQ+ people is also far from gone. According to the FBI, 1,121 of the 7,287 hate crimes reported nationally in 2021 involved assaults over sexual orientation and another 266 involved gender identity.
Nationally, LGBTQ+ acceptance has steadily increased over the decades. According to Gallup, support for gay marriage example has gone from 27 percent in 1996 to 71 percent last year.
“I think I’m the only queen that performs all over the state of Michigan. Do I feel welcome? I would say after they get to know me, for the most part, yes,” Jaedin Black, Ypsilanti-based drag queen and CEO of Boyleseque, said. “There’s always going to be people with their own views that believe in false narratives [on] what drag queens are. But drag queens in the LGBT community have been around forever.”