GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — Downtown Grand Haven will host the city’s inaugural Pride Festival Saturday, despite pushback from some community members.
In May, the city council approved the festival’s permit and declared June Pride Month.
Several people who opposed both the festival and the declaration spoke during previous public comment sessions.
“This year, I can’t bring my son downtown for his birthday because I don’t want to subject my family to an event that is sexual in nature and unsuitable for children that will be taking place in the public space of downtown Grand Haven,” said Adam Reece, a Grand Haven Township resident.
Grand Haven’s Pride Festival is composed of all volunteers after a local pastor put out a call for help.
“With everything that’s going on in the county, a lot of our LGBTQ+ community members, especially the youth, are not feeling like this is a safe space to live and be their authentic selves,” said committee member Chelsea Folk.
The festival will run from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday along the lakefront.
Local artists, vendors and LGBTQ+-owned restaurants will participate.
Karen Forbes, who emigrated from Mexico, told News 8 that when she first moved to the lakeshore community more than a decade ago, she experienced feelings of not belonging.
While Forbes said she has now found her community, she also serves on the Pride committee to provide a safe space for all.
“I am grateful for the humans who have stepped up and made it a priority to make people like me, from different backgrounds, feel comfortable,” Forbes said. “So this is why Pride for me is so important, because I believe it’s a celebration of love and humanity as it is.”