Pride month is celebrated every June, and is an entire month dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and the support of LGBTQ+ rights. Communities like Grand Rapids come together every year to hang pride flags, bust out their favorite pride gear, and typically plan to attend the beloved Grand Rapids Pride Festival.
Due to COVID-19, the Grand Rapids Pride Center had to cancel the festival for 2020 and with the uncertainty of the virus still looming this spring, had to take the festival virtual again for 2021. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t reason to celebrate! Luckily, I happen to know one of the event's planners very well and he was able to give me the inside scoop.
“We were looking to reinvent the wheel with taking Pride month virtual in 2021,” said Eric Jensen, Grand Rapids Pride Center Board Member who was charged with planning this year’s event. “We got creative and thought that partnering with local businesses could create some really fun pride festivities where smaller groups could gather in safer environments and smaller sizes.”
The Grand Rapids Pride Center looks to bring the festival back fully in-person in 2022 and promises not to disappoint.
As for this June, festivities are scattered throughout the city of Grand Rapids for the entire month, and believe me, there’s plenty to do! For instance, the city of Lowell held its first Pride Celebration in early June. Organizers for the Grand Rapids Pride Festival have pulled together plenty of events, activities, drag performances, and even partnered with several businesses that will be donating a percentage of their sales to the Pride Center.
If you’d like to support a local LGBTQ+ business for Pride Month (or any month!), take a look at my recent article highlighting several local bars, restaurants, shops and more owned and/or operated by proud members of the LGBTQ+ community. I also want to mention both the Pride Center and the Grand Rapids Trans Foundation offer support and connection for the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. For Pride Month, the Trans Foundation has been highlighting iconic trans people on their Facebook page. If you don’t already follow them, be sure to add this organization to your “Likes”.
Another easy way to show support for the local LGBTQ+ community is to hang a Pride Flag at your home or business. They are available from the Grand Rapids Pride Center and the Grand Rapids Trans Foundation for $10.
Here’s a rundown on events taking place all throughout Pride Month in Grand Rapids. Keep in mind, new events are popping up all the time. For the latest, be sure to check out the Experience Grand Rapids Event Calendar and the Grand Rapids Pride Festival Facebook page:
Local business, Let's Stay Home Cocktail Kits, can be found at Fulton Street Farmer's Market, Bridge Street Market, and onlone. A portion of their sales in June support the grand rapids Pride Center.
Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids
June 1 – 30: Let's Stay Home Cocktail Kits
Let’s Stay Home Cocktail Kits is an amazing new local business that creates small batch cocktail kits that can be enjoyed at home. Let’s Stay Home will be donating 20% of their sales for the month of June of their Strawberry Mint flavor to the Grand Rapids Pride Center. Check out their creative and delicious cocktail kits online or see them any Saturday at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market or any time at Bridge Street Market.
June 11: GR Pride with Ferndale Project and Eastern Market Brewing Co.
Dine out for a good cause! Check out 7 Monks Tap Room on Friday, June 11 from 4pm - close when they will donate 20% of proceeds to the Grand Rapids Pride Center. The GR Pride Beer Event will feature special drafts from the Ferndale Project and Eastern Market Brewing Co. and 7 Monks will have their standard food menu available too.
Head to Woosah Outfitters (left) + Outside Coffee Co. (right) for their artisan market on June 12.
Photo Credit: Ashley Hubbard
June 12: Woosah Pride Market
Woosah Outfitters and Outside Coffee Co. will be hosting an artisan market in their courtyard and having a “community cup” throughout the month for the Grand Rapids Pride Center. The community cup serves as a month-long fundraiser with each purchase to a community nonprofit. Event runs from 11am – 3pm.
Brewery Vivant (left) and Broad Leaf Local Beer (right) will be donating a portion of their pints sales to the Pride Center the last three Mondays in June (14, 21 and 28).
Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids
June 16: Drag Bingo
Hamburger Mary’s, an LGBTQ+ Hamburger performance restaurant chain, has opened their doors and bingo sheets for a Drag Bingo fundraiser event. Each $10 donation ticket and a portion of the tips from performances will benefit the Grand Rapids Pride Center. Bingo will be from 5-8 p.m. so call ahead and get your reservations in.
June 16: COVID & STI Testing
The Grand Rapids Pride Center will be providing a COVID vaccine clinic and STI testing site on Wednesday, June 16 from 1 - 4 pm at the Pride Center.
June 17: “Trans Euphoria” Short Film Debut
The Grand Rapids Trans Foundation will be debuting an uplifting film short: Trans Euphoria. The film features members of the Grand Rapids-area Trans and Non-Binary community as they share the joy and beauty of being Trans. The film will be shown virtually via YouTube. Follow Trans Euphoria’s Facebook event for link details.
June 17 & 24: Beauty Beyond Drag Story Time
Join the Grand Rapids Public Library and Beauty Beyond Drag at Riverside Park on June 17 and June 24 from 6 PM - 8 PM for pop-up reading events that will resonate with the LGBTQ+ community. The Mobile Library will be at both shows with fun family activities.
Although virtual this year (this photo was taken at the 2018 Pride Festival), expect a day full of art, entertainment and support for the LQBTQ+ community.
Photo Credit: Eric Zuniga
June 20: Grand Rapids Pride Festival '21
This year's Pride Festival will be a fun filled virtual day of Pride! Local artists, spoken word, story tellers, drag performances and many more will all take place virtually. Follow the Grand Rapids Pride Festival’s Facebook Event page for access to the virtual event on June 20. In the meantime, keep an eye on the Pride Festival's Facebook page for details on the lineup.
June 24 – 26: Actor's Theatre Grand Rapids: Queer Stories
Actor’s Theatre Grand Rapids will be performing Queer Stories outside at John S Hyatt and Associates (1765 Alpine Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504). Tickets will be priced as “pay-what-you-can” and can be purchased online ahead of each performance. Showtime is at 7 p.m. each evening.
June 26: Rock Your Curves on Curve Street
Naughty Bettie, Beauty Beyond Drag, and Mod Bettie are teaming up to shut down Curve Street for a Pride extravaganza in celebration of all bodies with a lingerie fashion show, drag performances, dance classes, and a burlesque show -- not to mention all the traditional event trappings of food and other vendor booths. Note: Organizers suggest parental discretion for this event, which is sure to be a safe and welcoming space for the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies.
As you can see, there are many ways to celebrate Pride Month in and around Grand Rapids, even without what many consider a traditional Pride festival.
I want to mention Michigan Drag Brunch whose Pride Month show at the JW is sold out. Consider this as proof of the incredible performances they consistently produce. You can read more about what it's like to attend a Michigan Drag Brunch Show and check out their website to find future shows to attend.
Have plans to do something else that’s fun and LGBTQ+ related? Drop a note in the comments as a suggestion for other readers and find more Pride-related events on the Events Calendar!
Happy Pride Month!
This story was updated June 15, 2021.