Smog postpones East Lansing Pride to July 22

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Nicoline Bradford

The smog left grey skies and a crimson sun over East Lansing

East Lansing was covered in a smoky haze during the last week of June due to wildfires raging through Canada, and the poor air quality forced organizers to reschedule the East Lansing PRIDE event from June 30 to July 22. 

The Spartan Housing Cooperative, a nonprofit student housing community, partnered with the City of East Lansing to organize the event. 

Sky Stillwell, the lead organizer with the SHC, said while it’s disappointing to reschedule, the safety of the performers and community was a priority.

On the day planned, the air quality index reached 121 according to, a resource created by the Environmental Protection Agency. This level is categorized as “unhealthy” for sensitive groups, such as those with asthma and other pre-existing conditions. 

Robert Glandon, an expert on environmental health and an instructor at MSU, said the index measures the levels of various pollutants and the impact they generally have on people. 

“It makes sense that they would call it off,” he said. “The direction for the general population was to stay inside.”

While the causes of the wildfires are natural for the most part, he said the hot, dry summers caused by climate change exacerbate the issue. 

He said it might get better for a week or so, but periods of dangerously poor air quality are not over for the summer.

“With this fire, we’re not in control of the smoke drifting,” he said. 

Glandon said there were social and psychological impacts of poor air quality to consider. 

“There are studies out of MIT and other places that show poor air quality can influence behaviors and things like anxiety and depression,” he said. 

He said different socioeconomic groups are impacted differently by environmental influences. 

“If someone lives near a busy intersection with cars always driving by, the air quality is going to be different than rural and suburban areas,” he said. 

Glandon also said countries like China and India have been dealing with consistently poor air quality for years. 

Despite the postponement, there’s still excitement for the event. After all, pride isn’t just for June. 

Mel MacLachlan, better known as the drag king Oliver Woodstock, plans to perform when the event is rescheduled. 

Both Stillwell and MacLachlan said that there isn’t any pride without drag. 

Stillwell said she’s most excited to have the community come together, support each other and celebrate. She recalled an incident at the last East Lansing Pride event where a protester harassed and tried to steal from a performer’s tips. She said the audience didn’t hesitate to step in and help the drag queen. 

“We hope to put on a really great pride event,” MacLachlan said. “With everything going on, all the rights that they’re trying to take away and the bills that they’re to pass, I just really hope that we can create a safe space for people.”

Use the city’s online calendar to stay updated on community events. 

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