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Drag at West Michigan Pride Festival
Supporters and members of the gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning community gathered in Comstock Riverside Park on Saturday to celebrate equality and diversity at the 24th annual West Michigan Pride Festival. From 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., local entertainment and vendors provided hours of enjoyment for festival-goers.
Michigan’s Center for Inquiry (CFI), a nonprofit organization working to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values, was at the event as a vendor.
“There’s a lot of people here who may not feel that comfortable in the religion they were brought up in, and since we are really open to diversity we’re able to give them a welcoming place to come and express their opinions, and develop their philosophies,” says media volunteer for the Center for Inquiry Jane Whittington.
Other booths included Barefoot Wine, Vitos Pizza and an Obama 2012 booth that gave individuals the chance to sign up to vote and collect “I’m in” cards to share their voice about the upcoming election.
After the opening ceremony, Jes Kramer kicked off the entertainment for the festival. The crowd cheered as the one-woman band played songs that utilized layers of tone created from the combination of a keyboard and her voice.
The West Michigan Gay Mans Chorus and Sean Ensign also performed. Audience members danced as Ensign presented club beats and love ballads. The artist even performed songs that had been listed on the Euro High NRG Dance Club Charts in the past.
“I work to promote equal housing and protection on my Facebook [profile] and any other media you can think of. I live it everyday; I talk about it everyday. I cannot help it: this is who I am,” says Nancy Gallardo, volunteer coordinator for the festival. Gallardo explains the festival aims to provide an environment that is supportive and free of prejudice. The organizers work to create a place where the public can become informed about the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community.
“It’s a wonderful way for the LGBTQ community and supporters to get together and express their unity,” Gallardo added. “And we want to let people know that we are here, we are proud and we’re not going away. We are American citizens.”