Flint honors Pride Month with a parade of events

FLINT, Michigan — Pride Month will be celebrated abundantly on June 25 and 26 in downtown Flint. From festivals, music performances, drag shows, balls, and more, the Flint LGBTQ+ community and allies will have an opportunity to experience queer culture in its brilliance.

Pride Month is celebrated throughout the country and some parts of the world throughout June and owes its name to Brenda Howard, nicknamed “Mother of Pride,” who organized the first Pride parade. However, while festivals, parades, art shows, music events, and more pay homage to the massive gains and honor the contributions of the LGTBQ+ community, its roots come from a turbulent past.

Pride Month comes heavily due to the Stonewall Uprising in June of 1969, where police officers raided the Stonewall Inn — a prominent gay bar in Manhattan, New York — and sparked nationwide protest and activism for the Gay Liberation Movement. As a result, the first Pride march was held in New York City on June 28, 1970, honoring the first anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.

“Visibility in this day and age is always important, and showcasing the variety of talents the LGBTQ+ [community] have is a great way." - Anwar AndersonThe spirit of Pride will be in the air Saturday, June 25, from 2 p.m to 8 p.m at Riverbank Park in downtown Flint.

Local HIV/AIDs agency Wellness Services and its Flint Pride in the Park council will host its ‘Flint Pride Festival.’ The event is filled with performances featuring drag queens, Flintdustry artists Tay Boogie, Figga Da Kid, and Brelia Renee and is hosted by Furillostar.

Then, Riverbank Park will transform from 7 p.m to 8 p.m to host ‘Flint Pride’s Mini Ball’ featuring four different entry categories that pay homage to and represent the LGBTQ+ community’s ballroom scene birthed by queer and transgender African-Americans.

The celebrations don’t end there. On Sunday, June 26, from 8 p.m to 2 a.m, the first-ever ‘Back to Black Kiki Ball.’ Dubbed ‘Pride at the Loft,’ the ‘Kiki Ball’ will be held inside The Loft in downtown Flint and aims to bring the signature ballroom culture to Flint.

Hosted by HimHers Productions founder and music artist HimHim and DJ’ed by DJ Smuvi, guests will enjoy a night of dancing, drinks, and queer culture for a $10 admission fee. At midnight, The Loft will transform into a stage for performers, judges, and commentators. Three categories are on the table for entrants to walk, dip, and rip the floor. 

Flintside caught up with Anwar Anderson, Pride in the Park’s Entertainment Director, and HimHim of HimHers Productions to talk about all things queer culture and Flint Pride.

Flintside: As Flint Pride continues its expansion, how does it feel to bridge gaps between the LGBTQ+ community and the Flint music scene?
 
Anwar Anderson: “Visibility in this day and age is always important, and showcasing the variety of talents that the LGBTQ+ [community] have is a great way. Not just on TV but in our own communities. Flint Pride [has and] continues to display this throughout the years.”

Flintside: With the state of the world, how important is it for Flint Pride to continue to be a safe space for the LBBTQ+ community in the city?

Anwar Anderson: “Considering that most Pride’s are white-centered, we committed to centering black and brown people of color. Our Pride is also promoted as family-friendly, allowing all ages to take part in experiencing the love and pride we have in ourselves and each other.”

"With us bringing a strong network of ballroom back to Flint, we are able to shine more light on our city." - HimHim
Flintside: House and ball culture have always been a space for family and alternative versions of queerness. What do you envision this ‘KiKi Ball’ to become?

HimHim: “Well, I believe ballroom stretches beyond queerness for what it represents. Ballroom has shown a huge show of family and togetherness from the beginning. By creating a ‘KiKi’ scene in the city, continuing to spread awareness of HIV/ AIDS, and creating a network of resources that stems beyond the city of Flint, I believe this will begin a new era for Flint’s LGBTQ+ scene. I hope all of us [will be] an example to our younger generation of LGBTQ+ individuals.”

Flintside: Queer culture has been expanding over the last decade. With this ‘Kiki Ball’ in Flint, what impact do you see this having on the community?

HimHim: “A huge one! With us bringing a strong network of ballroom back to Flint, we are able to shine more light on our city. Creating a ‘Kiki house’ in the future would also allow us to show love and compete with other ‘KiKi houses’ around the country. If this becomes frequent, we can begin to create traction and better reach. We hope to create an LGBTQ+ Council for Pride & Ballroom in our city. Over time, we may be able to create our own space for our culture to thrive!”

For more information on Flint Pride, follow its Facebook page.

Read more articles by Xzavier Simon.