Ypsi Pride brings LGBTQ+ community back together for a month of in-person programming

Although Ypsi Pride had a great deal of success going virtual in 2020, organizers and participants are happy to be back together in person for four weekends of programming this month. The celebration of Ypsi's LGBTQ+ community takes place each Friday in June outdoors on downtown Ypsilanti's Washington Street and other Ypsi venues.

Elize Jekabson, one of the founders of Ypsi Pride, says the members of the event's organizing committee weren't sure what was going to happen with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. They even discussed taking 2021 off and coming back in 2022. 

"We knew we didn't want to do virtual again, even though it was a success," Jekabson says. "Everybody was a little worn down on virtual anything. During our conversations, it came up how much we really missed being together and how it felt like a really long time since we'd been able to gather as a community."

Ypsi Pride had been growing since it was launched in 2016. Jekabson says splitting it up into four nights over the course of June makes sense, since the crowds had been outgrowing the space they were allotted downtown anyway.

Ypsi Pride 2021 kicked off in conjunction with First Fridays on June 4, with a focus on music, burlesque, and drag. Headliner Alise King, a soul singer from Detroit, also performed during the virtual Ypsi Pride in 2020.

This Friday, June 11, will focus on youth and families, including a teen dance party. Furillostar will headline the evening. The third Friday of the month, June 18, will be a vendor fair, featuring a performance by the band Child Sleep. The last Friday of the month will focus on activism, self-care, and care for the community, featuring a set from DJ Selina Style.

"That last week, we'll be featuring inspiring and energizing performances and activities," Jekabson says. "We're prioritizing diversity, justice, activism, and health."

Jekabson says the organizing team wasn't prepared for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's announcement that outdoor events can be at full capacity this summer, but organizers hope that spreading Pride out over four weekends will help thin crowds for those who are still cautious about social distancing. Some events will also be livestreamed for those who prefer to watch from home.

More details and livestreams of Pride events are available through the Ypsi Pride Facebook page.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of Ypsi Pride.
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