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  • Writer's pictureJared Cramer

Pride flags on display throughout June

Below is an article mentioning SJE that appeared in the June 8, 2022, edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

After not having the greatest experience living in Grand Haven as a member of the LGBTQ community, Keith Colson says he is giving back to his city with volunteer efforts to not only promote Pride Month but educate community members as well.

The global celebration takes place throughout the month of June, with various events and special business promotions. In Grand Haven, downtown businesses are showing their support with pride flags displayed outside their establishments.

“Going into Pride Month, we want people not only in our community but coming into our community to know that we’re welcoming,” Colson said.

The effort is put forth by the volunteer-run Human Relations Commission, which is connected to the city of Grand Haven, in partnership with the Grand Rapids Trans Foundation, a nonprofit serving transgender individuals in the greater Grand Rapids area.

Colson said last year was the first time Grand Haven recognized Pride Month.

“We wanted to see what we could do about raising education and awareness in the community about what that means,” he said.

Living in Grand Haven, Colson said he’s experienced homophobic slurs yelled at him from passing cars and irritable looks as he holds hands with his husband.

“Grand Haven does not have the best reputation with being queer friendly,” he said. “It meant a lot to me to see what we could do to move that dial a little bit as far as understanding and acceptance.”

Walking downtown, visitors will see different pride flags displayed outside establishments such as Glik’s, the Tri-Cities Historical Museum and Kilwin’s. Inside Jumpin’ Java are four different flags displayed on the wall.

Colson said the Human Relations Commission worked with 15 businesses to purchase flags from the Grand Rapids Trans Foundation.

“Canvassing the entire city was not in our means this year, but we wanted to see if we could get as many businesses as possible to put up flags,” Colson said. “Others I know have put up flags who we may not have reached out to.”

The flags vary from the familiar rainbow design to the all-inclusive “progressive pride” flag, which combines all the flags into one. There are also flags representing lesbian, intersex, pansexual, nonbinary, transgender and asexual identities.

A “story walk” put together by Loutit District Library is currently displayed at Grand Haven’s Central Park, with each page of a book called “Granddad’s Camper” by Harry Woodgate displayed for participants to read as they walk the park’s circular path. The children’s book tells the story of a little girl who visits her grandpa, who tells her stories of his late husband.

After participating in the story walk, participants can turn around and walk the opposite direction and see displays of the different pride flags and their meanings. This will be displayed through June 12 in Central Park.

A community pride worship celebration will be hosted by St. John’s Episcopal Church at the Lynne Sherwood Waterfront Stadium on Sunday, June 26, beginning at 10 a.m.

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