Up North Pride Week Returns | Features

A visibility march, drag night and silent disco are all on the festival schedule
By Alexandra Dailey | September 24, 2022

Since 2014, Traverse City’s Up North Pride (UNP) – currently led by Nick Viox, Co-Chair of President & Programming/Events, and a Board of Volunteers – has promoted inclusion, provided education and resources, inspired activism and advocacy, and produces a variety of community-focused 2SLGBTQIA+ programs and events for all.

Last year, UNP decided to move its annual Up North Pride Week from June — nationally recognized Pride Month — to the fall, a less hectic event season in northern Michigan. Postponing the event to late September or early October will make it easier for the volunteer-run nonprofit to find donations and local sponsors for the week-long event, and more easily partner with community businesses who have time and availability outside of the summer bustle.

Fall also means an opportunity for larger venues, new events and updated favorites, and the UNP team is excitedly preparing for upcoming community activities that promote inclusion, diversity and togetherness.

“We strive to create events that everyone is interested in,” says Kendall Kotcher, the organization’s social media manager. “I’m hoping for the pool party [new for 2022] will reach a new group of participants this year.”

While she’s eager to host and attend all of the events, there’s one Kotcher is most looking forward to. “The Silent Disco is always my absolute favourite,” she says. “Dancing under the stars with your friends is bliss.”

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So consider this September (and October) Pride Month Part II! Below are details of the key events during Up North Pride Week, as well as a brief look at special guests and activities taking place from September 28th to October 2nd.


Pride Ride & Sign Making Party
F&M Park, 716 E. State St., 6-9 p.m
Led by Norte and open to all ages, the Pride Ride starts at F&M Park and ends at The Little Fleet where cyclists can attend the annual Sign Making Party to prepare for Saturday’s Visibility Rally.

“We welcome over 100 riders and performers to this event,” says Kotcher. “We are grateful to Norte for his leadership in bringing a community together through Bikes and the Ampersand Lettering Lab, which drove the creativity for the signs.”

Note: Cyclists are encouraged to arrive at F&M Park before 6pm to get ready for the ride.


pool party! (Now sold out!)
Delamar Traverse City, 615 E. Front St., 6-9 p.m
Everyone is invited to attend Up North Pride’s first-ever pool party event in Delmar Traverse City! (Oldtimers know the Delamar as the former Holiday Inn West Bay.) Gather in the evening with a backdrop of the sunset, delicious drinks and heated pools.

This launch party grew out of a brainstorming session and feedback from previous attendees – UNP listened and acted! This event is open to all ages, however alcohol is available to those 21 and older.

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comedy night
City Opera House, 106 E. Front St., 8-9:30 p.m
Comedian Kristin Key returns to entertain audiences with her self-deprecating, improvisational style and guitar. She’s joined by two nationally touring LGBTQ+ comedians: Jeff D, known for his seditious and satirical Southern-style humor, and Jen Kober, who uses her storytelling skills and impromptu rock-n-roll approach to create laughter bring to.

“We are very excited to be moving Comedy Night to a larger and more popular venue this year,” added Kotcher. “It’s exciting that more members of our community have access to a night of laughter!”


Visibility Rally & March
F&M Park, 716 E. State St., 4-5 p.m
This is the big one folks! Michigan’s largest attendee-driven 2SLGBTQIA+ Pride March is held here in Traverse City. The Visibility Rally begins at F&M Park with keynote speakers and Grand Marshall Senator Jeremy Moss, Michigan’s first openly gay Senator.

From there, the Visibility March flows from downtown to Open Space. During the march, participants will display their creative statements from Wednesday’s sign making party. (Or BYO sign from home!)

draw night
The Open Space, following the Visibility March until 10 p.m
Hosted by local drag king and fan favorite Ben Eaton, Drag Night at Open Space features national, regional and local drag artists ready to wow! The event’s co-headliners include Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, RuPaul’s Drag Race Alumnae and Angeria Paris VanMicheals. Food and beverages can be purchased on site, and attendees are invited to come in Pride attire, attire, or any other gender expression they feel.

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silent disco
The Open Space, 10:00 p.m.–12:00 a.m
After the Drag Night, the open space is transformed into a silent disco under the October sky. If you’ve never seen or visited a silent disco, they’re pretty nice: everyone hears music and dances the night away, but instead of blaring through speakers for the whole city, the music is right in your ears.

Competitors will receive headphones to act out their moves and enjoy great tunes backed by 2Bays Productions hosting three competing DJs on site. Food and drink will also be provided.


Big gay brunch
The open space, 11am-2pm
The Pride Week program concludes with the Big Gay Brunch, which includes food, drink, music and a great networking and socializing opportunity.

“The Big Gay Brunch is a lovely way to end the week with delicious food and groovy local tunes,” says Kotcher. “We postponed the picnic to this day because we felt it was a good opportunity for the community to connect with other nonprofits that align with our values. Queers love brunch, and Sundays are notorious for brunch.”

Visit upnorthpride.com for more information on each event.

Photo courtesy of LilJes Photography.

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