It was the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights that inspired a small group from West Michigan to form a new LGBTQ+ community center, now known as Grand Rapids Pride Center.
In 1988, they hosted Grand Rapids' first Pride Celebration in the Monroe Amphitheater (the predecessor of the beloved Rosa Parks Circle). There was some controversy - the group asked then-Mayor Gerald Helmholt to issue a proclamation recognizing LGBTQ+ Grand Rapidians and the Pride Celebration, but the Mayor publicly refused to do so.
Despite the objection, the event took place on Sunday, June 19th, 1988. Since then, public support of and commitment to the LGBTQ+ community has grown, with Grand Rapids Pride Center being a community partner in major steps such as Grand Rapids' historic civil rights ordinance protecting Grand Rapidians from discrimination in employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
In 2018, Mayor Rosalynn Bliss signed the City of Grand Rapids Proclamation, recognizing LGBTQ+ Pride Month.