The Grand Haven City Council’s support of a pride festival draws community opposition
Published May 19, 2023
Written by Madison
Photography by Simply American
According to some, June is Pride Month. The City of Grand Haven is planning to commemorate the occasion with a festival.
At the May 15, 2023 Grand Haven City Council meeting, 14 men stood up and spoke in opposition to the city’s participation in pride month and a pride festival.
A Pride Festival is planned in the City of Grand Haven for Saturday, June 10, 2023, from 12:00–9:00pm. Events will be held at the waterfront from the Lynn Sherwood Waterfront Stadium to the splash pad.
According to the festival website, “kids are not only welcome, they are encouraged to attend! We’ll have family-friendly events throughout the day with dedicated kid spaces.” Alcohol will be served in designated areas.
Grand Haven Pride Festival sponsors include:
• Reverend Jared Cramer, St. John’s Episcopal Church
• Hailey Barton, Grand Haven Special Education teacher
• Shape Corp.
• Scholten Fant Law Firm
• The Kirby House
• Baker Lumber (Grand Haven School Board President Christine Baker’s family business)
• The Unicorn Tavern (owned by Grand Haven School Board Member Krystal Boyd)
The festival website offers a 25% discount on booth fees for vendors who identify as queer.
The entertainment will include drag events, and people of all ages will have access to “connection areas.”
On May 15, 2023, City Hall was filled with citizens who support free will and the right to live as they choose, yet oppose a pride festival taking place in a public space. Several of those who spoke at the meeting were pastors representing the voices of hundreds of their church members.
Pastor Nate Parsekian of Norton Shores asked, “When the cross was taken off Dewey Hill, why was that done? Was it done because it was offensive to a group of people?”
He went on to say, “As so many people are sharing, a large group of people with traditional Christian values see a pride flag and pride festival being openly supported by the city as offensive. It is offensive to us. It is equally offensive as that cross was to whatever group of people thought it should be taken down. So, what we’re asking for is just equality.”
Parsekian continued, “We understand that this is a free country. That’s what makes this place so great. We love that people have the freedom to express themselves. It’s when these kinds of things are being endorsed by the city itself, when flags are flying on City Hall, when things are put on the public space, then we see that this is more than just a private group of people enjoying their rights. Now it’s something that’s being promoted and pushed onto the larger community, and I think that’s why we’re so offended.”
Pastor Mike Van Buren spoke about precedence. “This city council had several people who came before you because they wanted to express how offensive it was to have things displayed in this city. People expressed how offended they were to have a 40-foot cross that was raised often times and for decades, and this council responded with a decision to suspend the practice. Thank you. You set a precedent of responding to those who were offended.”
“People expressed how offended they were by the display of a manger scene on a city property,” Vanburen added, “and the practice was either suspended or shortened indefinitely. Thank you again. You set a precedent to those who were bringing offence. So, I’m here to express… I am offended by men dressing up as women and doing provocative sexual acts on public property.”
George Meierhauser spoke, “We as Christians do not hate anybody, and we are not denying what people can do in the privacy of their own home.” He went on, “What we’re opposed to is bringing it in the public square, and it being endorsed with public tax dollars, and by public officials.”
Rick Clapp spoke about the majority. “There are a lot of us here that feel that way. A majority. Not a minority.” He continued, “Thankfully, God has not left this community, and God has mercy… The community doesn’t want this.”
Clapp then addressed the audience. “To all watching and listening, this is your wake-up call. Be awakened. You need to speak up.”
“There’s a silent conservative majority in this town and you need to speak up.” Clapp added, “Please come to these meetings and speak your mind.”
He finished by reminding the City Council, “We are the majority, and we don’t want drag shows in Grand Haven.”
Those who spoke to the Grand Haven City Council made it clear they support free will, but do not support sexuality on display in the public square.
They made it clear they are offended by the decisions of the council and indicated they will continue to actively speak out.
Adam Reece, the first to speak during public comment stated, “In the spirit of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, for this city to truly be diverse, equitable and inclusive, I look forward to the board’s unanimous approval of my proposed Christ is King Festival in 2024.”
“I look forward to its unanimous approval of Christ is King month from August 4–31, 2024, and the words “Christ is King” being displayed on the city’s welcome sign as a visible representation of the city’s support for the Christian community of Grand Haven.”