VIDEO: City of Saline Raises Pride Flag, Hosts First Pride Event
The City of Saline celebrated its first Pride event in celebration of the community's LGBTQ+ individuals.
Speakers, including Mayor Brian Marl and Saline Supports leaders Heather Rosa Finch and Kerstin Woodside, said that while it was the city's first Pride event, it wouldn't be the last.
Mayor Pro-Tem Dean Girbach, the longest serving member of Saline City Council, said the event was a day he had long prayed for.
"I have lived here 58 years and at one time heard that I was 'not Saline' because I was with my partner. This was the day that I prayed for," Girbach said.
The flag is hoisted shortly after the 13 minute mark.
Recently-hired City Manager Colleen O'Toole said symbols of community support for the LGBTQ+ individuals are important. She spoke about visiting Saline after she applied for the job and seeing the familiar rainbow colors on the Saline Supports signs.
"It's a real pleasure and honor to serve a community where we recognize that what makes us different doesn't divide us," O'Toole said. "Driving around Saline for the first time, seeing Saline Supports signs, that made me and my family feel so welcome here. It was actually a deciding factor in even applying for this position in the first place."
Heather Rosa Finch, one of the leaders of Saline Supports and a graduate of Saline High School, said it was a dream of hers to see an event like this in her hometown.
"I was telling (Mayor Marl) that I couldn't have imagined from our days at Saline High that we'd have a day like this," Finch said. "I know I am preaching to the choir with this group we have here today, but we really are stronger when we band together and when we support one another. I am so proud to be a part of this community."
Board of Education Trustee Susan Estep quoted Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California.
"Harvey Milk said that all young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential," Estep said. "We are still trying to make this a reality over 40 years later."
Estep said LGBTQ youth need to see adults in the community who support them and make them feel safe in the community, both with their words and actions.
She said people must stand for policies and practices that ensure equity and inclusion, and "fight against those that don't."
Deputy Police Chief Marlene Radzik pegged the crowd at about 150 people.