Is Old Town Still Gay Friendly?

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By Kaelin Roberts
Old Town Staff Writer

Detective Michelle Bryant says that Old Town is the most gay friendly area in Lansing.

“The shop owners and bar owners are open minded and welcoming. Some are gay themselves,” said Bryant, who is the LGBT Liaison officer for the Lansing Police Department.

Old Town has two gay bars, Spiral and Esquire, and many gay owned businesses like Tallulah’s Folly, said Jamie Schriner-Hooper a volunteer on the Old Town Organization Committee.  These businesses welcome both gay and straight people, she said.

Louise Gradwohl, an intern at the Old Town Commercial Association, said without diversity, Old Town wouldn’t be what it is today. The Michigan Pride Festival is held there every summer and brings in thousands of people.

Schriner-Hooper said people against gay rights also show up for the festival. “Gay Pride has been held in Old Town in part over the last few years and in-full last year. To my knowledge, there’s not anything [anti-gay in Old Town], other than the crazy protestors who come out for every festival.,” said Schriner-Hooper.

Yankowski said about three to four years ago some anti-gay graffiti was painted on some of the properties in Old Town. “We were able to ID and arrest the individual for those disturbing crimes,” he said.

Schriner-Hooper said the homophobic graffiti was cleaned up by volunteers within 12 hours of the incident. “I’ll tell you that the community came together and the graffiti was gone almost as fast as it went up,” said Shannon Rolley, a member of the Old Town Organization Committee.

A Michigan State student, who asked that his identity remain anonymous, said he began doing drag shows in October at Spiral nightclub. “I started in Spiral’s Annual Drag Race, which I actually ended up winning, and have also been a guest in Drag Queens Gone Wild, which is also hosted at Spiral,” he said.

He said he thinks Old Town is a gay-friendly community but there are some changes that can be made to improve the gay scene there. “In order to improve their gay scene or increase interest, I would suggest that Old Town open more gay friendly places and ensure that they are welcome in all places whether or not that is the target audience of the business,” he said.  “Offering a wider variety of places for people to go would allow for more opportunities to go out and have fun.

He said he goes by the drag stage name Elise Lacroix.

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