By Charles Sercombe
The Gay Pride Flag is flying over the city.
Getting to this historical first wasn’t easy.
The issue raised an old cultural divide in the city, which recently resulted in a tense city council meeting.
It also resulted in Mayor Karen Majewski having to break a tie vote on council to allow the pride flag to be flown on the city-owned flagpole in Zussman Park.
Councilmembers Mohammed Hassan, Mohammed Alsomiri and Saad Almasmari voted against a resolution to allow the flag to be flown.
Councilmembers Nayeem Choudhury, Carrie Beth Lasley and Fadel Al-Marsoumi voted in favor of the flag.
The actual raising of the flag on Saturday morning, with about 30 people gathered in Zussman Park, happened without incident.
But who wasn’t in attendance was telling: Carrie Beth Lasley was the only councilmember there.
A few council candidates were on hand, as was mayoral candidate Asm Kamal Rahman, who in 2008 led a successful voter drive to overturn the city’s human rights ordinance, which also gave protections to the LGBTQ community.
Back then, he said the rights ordinance went too far, and would lead to allowing bestiality and transexual men assaulting children, among other claims.
He says he has since educated himself on the matter.
The pride flag issue was brought forth by the city’s newly-formed Arts & Culture Commission.
Mayor Majewski spoke at the flag raising ceremony.
Here is what she had to say:
“We’re proud of our little city, proud of our reputation as a place that accepts immigrants from all over the world, a city that celebrates diversity, a city that stands as a model, however flawed, of an inclusive and tolerant America.
“And I’m proud of our Arts & Culture Commission for spearheading the raising of this Pride Flag in front of Hamtramck City Hall.
“This flag raising in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month is a long time coming. It’s the continuation of an ongoing struggle to recognize gay rights as part of our inalienable human rights.
“But ‘gay rights’ doesn’t begin to encompass the full scope of what this flag symbolizes, and what unfortunately is still not guaranteed in this country or in this community: that regardless of who you love or how you experience your wholeness of self in this largely gendered world; that your personhood is honored, respected, acknowledged, and afforded justice and equality;
“That no one’s sexuality, their gender identity, so deep a part of who we all are as human beings, is stigmatized as inherently sinful; that it’s not seen as a flaw of character; that it’s not something shameful to be kept secret, closeted; that it’s not something that threatens others, and that it should never be something that makes anyone vulnerable to discrimination, ridicule, harassment, self-hate, or violence.
“Quite obviously, we are not there yet.
“But the raising of this flag is a step forward, a hopeful sign that Hamtramck is catching up with what is an unmistakable movement forward in this nation that is taking place across governments, institutions, businesses, the courts, and people’s consciousness.
“It is an unmistakable movement toward love, acceptance, equality, and the right each of has to find and love our own true selves.”
The flag will be flown until the end of June.
Posted June 25, 2021