Midland Center for the Arts

The Midland Center for the Arts, through the efforts of Katie Miller, Manager of Community Engagement, was able to build partnerships to open doors to conversation through education, storytelling and creativity. Partnerships included: Perceptions, Family & Children’s of Mid-Michigan, Midland Public Schools, and GLAD (the employee resource group – ‘Gays & Lesbians at DOW’) and organizing the ‘Perspective Series’. The project centered around the horrific death of Matthew Shepherd – a gay American student at the University of Wyoming who was beaten, tortured, and left to die near Laramie on the night of October 6, 1998. Events included Understanding LGBTQ Communities, presented by Equality Michigan – Victim Advocacy Services, ’Love Simon’ film showing, ‘Matthew Shepard is a Friend of Mine’ film showing, Here: Say Storytelling presents: Stories We Don’t Share, and Considering Matthew Shepard, Professional National Tour, the Grammy®-nominated three-part choral work composed by Craig Hella Johnson.

It is estimated that a total of 1,400+ individuals were impacted by the project.

Robb Wiersum

Robb Wiersum, Saginaw/Grand Rapids, receives the Business Award for his establishment, The Mixx Nightclub and Metro Grille. Robb has actively sponsored several community activi- ties: Symphony’s Maestro & Martinis, AIDS Walks on both sides of the state, and most LGBT functions.  “It’s not just

about making a living, it’s about making and supporting your community” says Robb. His Diversion Collection of Bars has helped raise and donate over $750,000 for Michigan Charities and organizations. He has been a wonderful addition to our community.

Steve West & Jim Atwood

The Savoy Grill is a local, popular, and gay-owned restaurant. Proprietors Steve West and Jim Atwood have created one of best kept secrets in downtown Saginaw. The Savoy Grill has generously donated money, time and spirit to the LGBT community.  They served dinner in the 2009 Pride Banquet and we are excited to honor them in the 2010 Pride Banquet — and they will still serve us again.

Magic Bean Cafe

The Magic Bean Cafe (Saginaw) receives the Business Pride Award for several reasons: being welcoming venue with loving open arms, posting LGBT events, welcoming the Perceptions trans-gender support group meetings, and hosted Las Vegas fundraisers for HIV/AIDS. The Magic Bean Cafe have contributed time, money, resources, and support to the LGBT community.

Gourmet Cupcake Shoppe/Carrie Fisher

The Gourmet Cupcake Shoppe (Midland, Saginaw and soon Bay City) and owner Carrie J. Fisher are honored with a Business Pride Award for: donating desserts for Perceptions, PFLAG, and Dow’s GLAD (Gays Lesbians and Allies at Dow) functions; sponsoring the 2011 Nat’l Coming Out Day concert featuring Eric Himan at Pit & Balcony and her involvement with the Chocolate Party, Perceptions Friday dinners, especially Dow’s GLAD events. Her Facebook fan-page features: pro-equality pro-motion at Midland’s The Laramie Project; her business’ participation with the Tri-City Pride Festival; photos of local commitment ceremonies and same-sex wedding cake toppers. Friendly Carrie gladly donates and volunteers when asked. Thank you!

Court St. Grill/Eric Phillips

The Court St. Grill (formerly Café) and owner Eric Phillips (Saginaw) receive a Business Pride award for endless support: offered his restaurant for Tri-City LGBT Pride festival planning meetings; attended meetings, shared suggestions, donated spaghetti dinners and booth food ($200). His staff, mother & father assisted with the booth – Mom’s sign idea: Eat Under the Rainbow. Eric donated ALL food booth 2012 profits for the Pride 2013 – more than $600! Thank you, The Court St. Grill and Eric.

Pasong’s Café

The Pasong’s Café that serves fine Asian cuisine receives the Business Pride Award for its long-time full support of the LGBT community within the Great Lakes Bay Region. “Pasong” and her daughters, Nonnie Blondin and Tina Saycosie, are known by many in the LGBT community. Openly lesbian Tina is the current owner of Pasong’s Café. The restaurant has donated its services for Holiday Parties, Chocolate Par-ties and other fundraisers for years. The family and employees were involved with the AIDS Walk and other community projects, especially in Saginaw’s Old Town.


The Dow Chemical Company supports the Perceptions Holiday Gala and other Perceptions events; sponsors the local Pride event, participates in the AIDS Walk, and provides funding for scholarships through the National PFLAG organization. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has given the Dow Chemical Co. a perfect score for fair treatment of LGBT employees in the workplace. Recently, Dow joined the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition, which was launched to advocate amending the Elliot-Larson Civil Rights Act to include protection from discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation and gender identity”.

Plant Fitness Midland

Plant Fitness, Midland, made national news when it defended the rights of a transgender woman who was a guest that came under attack for using the women’s locker room. The membership of the non-transgender woman who publicly protested, was revoked. Even when she filed a lawsuit against Planet Fitness, the company was resolute in its defense of its No Judgment Zone policy. In a public statement, Planet Fitness said all of its 1,000 locations will continue to adhere to the company’s fundamental belief that “members and guests may use all gym facilities based on their sincere self-reported gender identity.” At a time when the transgender community is under great duress, Planet Fitness’ stance is a positive message that taking a stand for social justice can also be a good business decision.


RACHEL PRENZLER is an outpatient therapist at M.P.A. Group, a behavioral health treatment facility in Bay City. Prenzler has been involved in the LGBT community since 2007, helped to set up the Perceptions transgender sup-port group and worked with University of Michigan’s comprehensive gender center. The M.P.A. Group works with local transgender people who are transitioning – the process of changing one’s gender presentation permanently to accord one’s internal sense of one’s gender.