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  • Writer's pictureJared Cramer

Pride Festival coming to Grand Haven

Below is an article by Kayla Tucker in today's edition of the Grand Haven Tribune that references the ministries of our church.

The first ever day-long Grand Haven Pride Festival is being planned by a group of 25 community members, along with the support of St. John’s Episcopal Church.


The event is being planned for noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 10, at the Lynne Sherwood Waterfront Stadium in downtown Grand Haven, where a pride worship service was hosted last year by St. John’s.


The festival will include drag performances, open mic for poets and musicians, a dance party equipped with a DJ, children’s activities like crafts and story hours, a vendor market, information booths and food trucks. Alcoholic beverages are also permitted to be served in the event space.


A pride worship will take place ahead of the event, at 10 a.m.


“There was a lot of want to make something that was a little separate from the church, but also a bigger event,” said event co-chair Hazel Holloway. “The pride event isn’t hosted through the church, but they are our fiduciary for the year.” Which will last until the organization becomes their own non-profit organization.


City Council approved the event request unanimously at its April 17 meeting.


“I think it’s important that we are truly welcoming to all, that all folks understand they belong here, that this is a space for everyone,” said Councilmember Ryan Cummins, adding that the council has recognized Pride Month in Grand Haven for the past two years, and he hopes they do it again this year.


During the public comment portion of the meeting, two residents spoke against the festival.


“I’m just wondering why we have one day for our veterans, and we’ve got an entire month now for gay pride?” asked Deb Rymel. “I’m speaking with love in my heart, I speak with compassion because I have friends who have chosen that lifestyle, and family members, and we see the devastation.”


Rymel referenced a drag queen story hour planned as part of some of the children’s activities at the event.


“I don’t want to indoctrinate our children into a lifestyle that I deem as destructive,” Rymel said.


In a Tik Tok video that’s received thousands of views over the past few days, St. John’s Rev. Jared Cramer broke down what the woman said and responded to her comments.


“Let me tell you what’s destructive to children, and it’s not drag queens reading them stories,” Cramer said. “It’s a culture filled with hate, an addiction to guns, a violent masculinity which attacks women, which scapegoats immigrants and marginalized communities.”


At the council meeting, Cramer described the festival as a “fun, family-friendly activity where everybody can be celebrated for exactly who God created them to be.”


The event organizers are hoping to raise $20,000 in community sponsorships; Cramer said by April 17, half of that goal had already been reached.


“The support is there in the community, actually,” Cramer said. “We know that it’s not for everyone and that’s what I love about Grand Haven is that there’s space for everyone here. Pride’s not their thing, they can just not go to the festival that day, that’s OK. But for those of whom it’s important to, we’ll demonstrate that truly all people belong in the city of Grand Haven.”


Planning committee members Shyra Williams and her daughter, Sorrel Williams, who’s a member of the Lakeshore Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) youth group, started attending St. John’s in hopes of finding a more inclusive environment.


“We’ve felt it’s a really great spot to get to know more about the community and plug in and get involved,” Shyra Williams said. “We had so much fun at the Holland Pride last year, and so to have one in Grand Haven just seems like the next best thing.”


Pride flags again an option for local businesses


To celebrate Pride Month, community member and Grand Haven Human Relations Commissioner Keith Colson is again organizing a distribution of pride flags to local businesses.


The annual effort is in partnership with the Grand Rapids Trans Foundation, which sell a variety of pride flags to businesses, and individuals, through the HRC.


“People have been decorating their houses for the Coast Guard Festival, why not decorate their houses for the Pride Festival?” HRC commissioner Louann Werksma said in a March 2 meeting of the commission.


The flags, which are 3 feet by 5 feet in dimensions, are $10 each and come in the traditional pride rainbow design, and also other representations of the LGBTQ community, including the transgender pride flag, bisexual pride flag, lesbian pride flag, the progressive pride flag, and more.


Colson is also asking the 32 businesses that participated last year to display their flags again.


For those that don’t want a standard size flag, there are options to purchase pins or smaller flags.The deadline to order is May 1.


Flags are available at grtransfoundation.org/shop.

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