LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A rainbow of colors flooded the steps of our State Capitol today as hundreds of people celebrate pride weekend and LGBTQ rights.
Of those targeted for hate crimes in 2016, 16.7 percent were because of sexual orientation.
Those who went to the pride rally today say they’re not just there for themselves, but also for those who didn’t get the chance.
Today’s rally was one of the many ways they can have their voices heard.
“There are kids who have been killed and there are kids who have been not accepted and they’ve been thrown out and they’ve been murdered,” said Sara Stockenauer, a student at Waverly Senior High School in Lansing.
Stockenauer was among the hundreds of people celebrating pride today to stand up and be proud of who she is.
“It’s such a feeling that I can’t explain,” said Stockenauer.
Stockenauer’s friend Maggie Coggin moved to Lansing about a year ago. She says before she came, she wasn’t very open about being pansexual, meaning she feels attracted to people regardless of their gender.
“I have been hiding in the closet for a while and I didn’t really come out to my parents, but I thought it would be cool to come out with my friends who are open about it,” said Coggin.
Coggin hopes once her parents find out about her sexuality that they’ll accept her for who she is.
“I know they’re going to be supportive,” said Coggin. “They’re really cool about it.”
Randy Herrick supports the LGBTQ community. He says it’s important to stand up for others even if they don’t necessarily belong to the group.
“I’m a white male, I got privileges, there’s very little that I get discriminated against for,” said Herrick. “Nobody should get discriminated against for who they were born.”
Nina Brown, who’s a student at Michigan State University, says being gay is sometimes hard to embrace. But at pride its easy and she feels more at home.
“Know that I’m in an environment right now where I don’t have to pretend I’m someone who I’m not is very, it’s a very comforting feeling,” said Brown.
But Brown says even though the community has made progress, there’s still a long way to go.
“Even though there has been a lot of growth, we still have a lot of growth to make,” said Brown.
This isn’t the only event happening today to celebrate pride weekend, there was a festival in Old Town where NextGen Michigan encouraged young people to register to vote.