Article By: Crystal A. Proxmire | Oakland County Times | Nov. 14, 2021
Ferndale, MI – Aria Timmons moved to Sterling Heights just two years ago from North Carolina, and fell in love through mutual Facebook friends. Marrying her beautiful bride Ericka in the midst of the Ferndale Pride festival has added to those Michigan memories.
When asked how she knew Ericka was the one, Aria said “We just knew. We just felt something that was more than we can even explain.” The exchanging of vows has been a tradition at the festival which celebrates those in the LGBTQ+ community and their allies, along with other fun traditions like dancing, rows of various vendors and food trucks, a family area with games and activities, drag performances, and more.
The event opened with distinguished speakers, including State Representative Jeremy Moss and Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist. “Pride is not just about how we feel. Pride is about what we do,” Gilchrist said. “We talk about Stonewall. Stonewall was an action. Stonewall was taking a stand, to stand tall for who you are, to be yourself, to show up in your community.” He said the effects of Ferndale Pride are felt across Metro Detroit and across the state of Michigan.
Brian Mathis from Howell brought his teenage daughter Kelly and her friend to the event. When asked why, he said “I love my daughter,” and added that he liked seeing “everyone being themselves and not having to worry about anyone disrupting them.”
For the girls, the word “amazing” came up often. “I have my little community back in Howell, but this is just so overwhelming,” Kelly said. “It’s so amazing. People are so open and everybody is so nice and so happy.”
All along West 9 Mile and West Troy were signs of love and support. Businesses donned rainbow flags and signs with supportive messages. Affirmations LGBTQ+ community center hosted events inside and they shot a confetti cannon from the roof sprinkling the crowd with little rainbow flags.
And on one of the corners were a pair of women with signs touting the support of the Chaldean community. “This is fun and we’re here to support,” said Sara Habo of Southfield.
When asked if there were any challenges with acceptance in the Chaldean community, Christina Salem told Oakland County Times, “It’s something people are still warming up to. With any patriarchal culture it’s gonna take time. So we’re just here to show people that there are allies in the Chaldean community and people who do accept and love them.”
It’s been ten years since Ferndale Pride began, and the event paid homage to one of the founders and longtime volunteer coordinator Monica Mills. In addition to countless hours on Pride and other local events, Mills dedicated her time to working at Matrix Human Services helping people with HIV/AIDs find testing, help, and support. “Please, everybody out there, please consider volunteering a shift or two in the future,” Mills said. “It’s very important we have young blood to keep this going. And I hope it goes on forever.”
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