LGBT activism is alive and well in Jackson, Michigan. This year saw the launch of the Jackson Pride Center, which opened their first space in the basement of John’s United Church of Christ. Following this success Nikki Joly, Director of the Jackson Pride Center, and the growing LGBTQ community in Jackson, set their sites on organizing their first ever Jackson Pride Event.
Nikki is a nurse, a veteran, and a respected employee of the local Red Cross; the perfect candidate to lead the effort alongside many local activists in Jackson. A small but vocal opposition, however, was determined to stand against this progress, and that opposition included threats of violence. PrideSource.com reports that Jackson Area Landlord Association’s President Robert Tulloch warned members of the city council via e-mail stating: “I saw something on a site about marching to Blackman Park and raising a flag? I hope they are not planning to raise a gay flag. That is an in your face declaration of war and will be met with a violent response. This IS the queer agenda.”
Despite the threats, Jackson Pride took place on August 5th. Just a few days after, however, an act of arson destroyed the home of Nikki Joly and his partner Chris Moore. Accelerants were used in the arson which caused the house to quickly go up in flames, claiming the lives of their two dogs and three cats. Their home and their belongings were completely destroyed in what is now being investigated as a hate crime.
I had the opportunity to meet Nikki at the recent CenterLink Summit, an annual gathering of LGBT community center leaders from around the country. I was truly inspired by the work Nikki is doing. Nikki is tenacious, and I know beyond all doubt that he will continue this incredibly important work.
A fund has been established to help Nikki and his partner Chris rebuild their lives. I just made a donation to support them, and I ask you to do the same. Just follow the link below: