Buchanan Area Senior Center hosts inaugural Pride on The Common event

Published 3:04 pm Wednesday, June 28, 2023

BUCHANAN — Community members and visitors alike descended on the Common Sunday to celebrate the historic advances supporting the LGBTQ+ community in Buchanan and Michigan. 

The Buchanan Area Senior Center hosted its inaugural Pride on The Common event Sunday evening.  Presented by Cannavista Wellness, the free event was open to all ages and welcomed community members wanting to help celebrate Pride and Buchanan’s historic achievements supporting the LGBTQ+ community:

  • In 2019, the cities of Saint Joseph and Buchanan were the first municipalities in Berrien County to add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to their non-discrimination ordinance, in March and June respectively.
  • In July, 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the protections, rights and freedoms afforded to all Michiganders under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • In March, 2023, Governor Whitmer signed bi-partisan legislation that added sexual orientation an gender identity protections to the ELCRA.

The program featured the musical performances including Wolf Ticket, Ultrafab and DJ Chuck Fry and more than a dozen vendors. Participating businesses included Canavista Wellness, honor Credit Union, High Profile, Buchanan Fine Arts Council/The Tin Shop Theatre, Zen Leaf, Café Italiano at the Sweet Shop, Pinnacle Emporium and more.

According to BASC Executive Director Adam Burck, more than 450 turned out for the event over the course of its five-hour duration.

“Everyone I talked to thought it was great,” he said. “They loved the music. Nobody showed up to protest. The Buchanan Police Department had officers there. People felt safe. There were no issues, the energy was phenomenal. The youth presented themselves comfortably. It was great to see them feel safe.”

The BASC, a non-profit charitable organization, is a community focal point on aging, offering programs and services that promote physical, social, and mental well-being, including exercise, recreation, crafts, Senior Nutrition Services, transport to medical appointments, food commodities, a Senior Community Garden and more. 

During the pandemic, older adults suffered isolation and studies found that senior LGBTQ+ adults suffered greater isolation as they are twice as likely to live alone. 

Because of this, BASC Executive Director Adam Burck started a monthly LGBTQ+ social to build social connections and support. Burck said the group has grown and decided to organize Buchanan’s first Pride event on The Common. 

Burck added that Pride Committee members, vendors and guests were impressed with the turnout and feedback from the event.

“They were thrilled,” he said. “The committee stepped up. Many had never planned an event like this before. They came together well and people put in a lot of time. People were dancing. It was just what we hoped for.”

The event continued the turnout trend set by Niles’ June 17 Pride event. Burck believes the strong showings are proof of the demand for future events. 

“It shows that people are ready,” he said. “It’s high time to provide celebration for people to celebrate Pride. Their success is a testimony in itself.”