JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – “I love you!”
Three words with one simple message were shouted across a sea of people in Jackson today in an effort to bring all members of the LGBTQ community together.
“It’s a moment that you can really offer everybody to come out to the community and really engage in just saying you might be different, I might be different but together we can love each other,” said Lansing Local Asio Aviance; a member of the LGBTQ community.
For Aviance, being able to celebrate Jackson’s first ever “pride” celebration feels like a victory for the LGBTQ community.
“You can feel it, you can feel the love, you can feel the unity, the desire for togetherness,” Aviance stated.
Emily Emersen-Rich agrees. She says events like this makes her feel accepted and gives her the opportunity to connect with others on a personal level.
“Pride means being able to hold my wife’s hand in public without fear of being arrested,” said Emersen-Rich’ a member of the LGBTQ community.
The celebration comes after a controversial year for the city of Jackson.
In February, the Jackson City Council approved a non-discrimination ordinance that protects sexual orientation and gender identity when it comes to housing, employment and public accommodation.
But a group of residents and local churches worked to over-turn the ordinance, known as the NDO but were unsuccessful after a judge ruled in favor of keeping the ordinance.
For “pride” organizer Nikki Joly, this event is another step in the right direction for the city.
“It’s a celebration of the freedoms that we’ve gained,” said Joly.
The message was clear…love the skin you’re in.
“Love comes in all shapes and sizes, all cultures, all diversities, genders, sexualities and to know that as cheesy as it sounds love is love,” Emersen-Rich stated.