Prominent members of Michigan's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are joining forces for a 100-day hunger strike to raise awareness and promote equal rights. Ferndale city and police liaisons working with Affirmations to help the LGBT community was inspired by yearly indexes performed by the Human Rights Campaign.
FERNDALE — The city of Ferndale has entered into an agreement with Affirmations, a nonprofit community center in the city that serves the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and its allies, to provide better assistance to the LGBT community.
For the past three years, Ferndale has participated in the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index. Ferndale is one of 353 cities that have participated in the Municipal Equality Index each year. As part of the campaign and the city’s 2006 human rights ordinance, City Manager April Lynch said, the city wanted to establish services and support for the elderly, youth and homeless in the LGBT community.
As part of the partnership, the city established two city liaisons to work with Affirmations: Director of Events and Projects Michael Lary and Ferndale police officer Amanda Szymanski.

As part of the HRC Municipal Equality Index, Ferndale is rated on services and policies in place to protect the LGBT community.
With the new policies and partnerships put in place, Lynch said the city’s score should be 93 out of 120 for 2016. Affirmations Executive Director Darrious Hilmon, who started at Affirmations in March of this year, said Affirmations and the city of Ferndale have always had a good working relationship, but the new partnership makes sure the best possible help will be accessible for the LGBT community.
By having a place like Affirmations for those who need help to turn to, Hilmon said it lets them know they aren’t alone in their struggles. Mayor Dave Coulter said that while the new partnership with Affirmations will improve the city’s equality index score, the changes are being done not for the better score, but to help the LGBT community.
Josh Gordon covered Berkley, Ferndale, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge along with the Berkely Schools and Ferndale Schools districts for the Woodward Talk.
The HRC reports that it has about 1.5 million supporters and members nationwide, and it works to achieve equality for the LGBT community.

With Affirmations already doing similar work in Ferndale, Lynch said it made sense to formalize their working relationship. Both Lary and Szymanski will be contact points for the LGBT community and work with Affirmations in providing services and discussing concerns. The city’s score has steadily increased since 2012 with a score of 67 out of 120, which includes bonus points, in 2015. Josh worked for C & G Newspapers beginning in 2013 and attended Central Michigan University.
Josh won Society of Professional Journalists awards in 2015 and 2016 and is an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers.

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