Detroit officials raise LGBT awareness with rainbow flag
Detroit — The city of Detroit's commitment to inclusivity was on display Wednesday in Hart Plaza as officials gathered to raise a rainbow flag and, with it, awareness for issues surrounding the LGBT community.
Mayor Mike Duggan led the ceremony alongside City Council President Brenda Jones, Detroit law enforcement and leaders for the LGBT community.
Duggan said the city's commitment to LGBT issues aligns with a campaign promise he made to build a city where members of the community felt included and "fully valued."
"The entire city of Detroit is supporting and celebrating LGBT Pride Month with you today," the mayor told a crowd of at least 100 that gathered for the flag raising.
The ceremony in Hart Plaza is the second for Detroit and comes in advance of this weekend's Motor City Pride festival celebrating the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The two-day event, being held June 9-10 at the plaza along Detroit's riverfront, is expected to draw about 35,000 people from the region as well as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Ontario. The program features a parade, rally, entertainment and family activities.
Curtis Lipscomb, executive director of LGBT Detroit, a nonprofit serving Detroit’s LGBT population, used the Wednesday event to make note of the fear and violence the community faces and the lack of educational opportunities and awareness surrounding those issues.
Lipscomb told attendees that, for him, the kickoff to June's pride month is a call to motivate at-risk individuals, stand up and speak out.
"We LGBT people must stand with others to defeat poverty, racism and regionalism," he said. "I'm talking to us. This is a call and a demand for action amongst us. Let's share our strategies of success with our brothers and sisters who stand on the right side of history."
Jones echoed Lipscomb's message.
"It is time to say it is time out for discrimination. Time out for hate crimes. Time out for judging people," she said. "We can accomplish more if we join together, accept people for who they are and what they do."
The city's police department also has made efforts in recent years to improve its relationship with LGBT community members, appointing Detroit Police Officer Dani Woods as its LGBT liaison officer.
"For some this may be just another moment for the LGBTQ-plus community, but for us it is a significant yet pivotal moment in Detroit that displays our citizens, our law enforcement and our workers as an inclusive city," Woods said.