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Detroit — It rained Saturday afternoon but Hart Plaza was awash with rainbows in the first day of the weekend Motor City Pride festival.

Bright multicolor shirts, hats, buttons, scarfs, flags and rainbow colored hair styles were de rigueuer as thousands of attendees filed in to the riverfront park for food, music and vendors ranging from Costco to the Big Three automakers, proudly displaying their latest models.

June is traditionally the month when LGBTQ – Lesbians, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender and Queer or Questioning – collectively take to the street to celebrate their identity, sexual choices and to stand up against repressive policies. This year’s theme of the festival: “Remember the past, create the future.”

At Hart Plaza, 130 sponsors, vendors and non-profits and food booths offered beads, information packets and other giveaways to attendees of the seven-hour event devoted to area LGBTQ and their rights.

“The Happy Shack” had a steady line of festival goers interested in mental and psychic readings. At least two universities – Wayne State and Oakland University – had information tents along with various health services, banks and commercial ventures. There was also a recruiting table for the Detroit Police Department.

A variety of music was scheduled at five different stages throughout the day and Sunday — ranging from the Out Loud Music Chorus to a drag queen show planned for later in the day.

“Rain, rain go away,” implored the Rev. Roland Stringfellow of the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit. “But even if it doesn’t, it won’t dampen our pride.

“When others practice hate, we are going to practice love,” said Stringfellow to those gathered at the Pride Stage. “No one can crush our spirit … Happy Motor City Pride everyone.”

Depending on where you wandered around Hart Plaza, the music ranged from hip-hop to the country swing of The Real Truck Nuts.

Zachary Casler, 29, of Fair Haven and Michael Sivola, 25, of Holly, found a table overlooking the Detroit River where they surveyed the scene in Detroit and the Windsor skyline. The pair, who have attended the festival over the past five years, said they planned to return on Sunday.

“This celebrates Pride Month,” said Casler, enjoying a Red Bull/coconut rum concoction. “It’s great to be a part of this.”

Sivola, wearing a t-shirt proclaiming “Straight Outta the Closet,” agreed.

“This is a great equalizer,” he said. “Its an atmosphere with positive vibes without any judgment going on. It’s a great time.”

Ashley Clish, 17, of Romulus, said she was attending on her boyfriend’s invitation.

“I think it’s a great thing you can all get together and not get discriminated against,” Clish said. “I went to a similar festival in Ypsilanti but this is much bigger.”

(248) 338-0319

Motor City Pride Festival

When: The festival is open until 9 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday with a parade sponsored by Fiat.

Admission: $5 for those over 12.

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