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Grand Valley State University's Beacon Since 1963, Allendale, MI
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Local musicians serenades until love is equal

On June 15, 2011, an anti-discrimination ordinance failed to pass in Holland, Mich. The 5-4 vote made it legal to fire or evict someone who is gay. Following the decision, individuals from the Grand Rapids and Holland communities, such as Wealthy Theatre artistic director Erin Wilson, came together to form Until Love is Equal. The organization fights against discrimination against the LGBT community in Holland.

“It’s a singular focus on this one cause, and for us one the things we try to get across is that these rights aren’t something that anybody should feel like they can give someone,” Wilson said. “It’s a restoration of what should be there already…it’s about getting to that point where everyone can work hard and have a home that won’t be taken away.”

Until Love is Equal, with the help of community members, continues to hold events to raise awareness about the issue. Hannah Rose and the Gravetones with the Jim Shaneberger Band take the stage on Valentine’s Day at Billy’s Lounge in Grand Rapids to help promote the cause. Hannah Rose Graves, a Grand Rapids-based musician, will perform a variety of songs that incorporate the romance of the holiday with a beat that keeps the audience on their feet.

“We will be doing old school love songs and heartbreak songs,” Graves said.

Graves joined Until Love is Equal early in its conception, and three years later, she still strives to promote the issue with her music.

“Hannah contacted us and wanted to do something for this particular cause and asked if this was an appropriate time to do it on Valentine’s Day,” Wilson said. “It seems (for this holiday) to be in our collective consciousness that we are starting to think of people that are denied things, so Valentine’s Day made sense.”

Valentine’s Day offered Graves an opportunity to raise awareness for Until Love is Equal in a different light.

“Music is just so much more emotionally connecting. Music makes people listen. It is a way to unite everybody,” she said.

By promoting the organization through non-traditional events, the group hopes to reach more people in different age groups, classes and communities.

“You see events where it is a little bit more somber, and Until Love is Equal has then been unintentionally the opposite,” Wilson said. “It (the performance) is a celebration of everything we should have, that we are born with these basic rights….there is enough there to suffer about in inequality…so I can’t see any compelling reason to spend more time in that bad space .”

Each event held by Until Love is Equal exemplifies the togetherness of the group and celebrates the progress it has thus made, and the concert is yet another one, Wilson said.

News of the ordinance has now reached citizens from coast to coast.

“This whole thing is about continuing the conversation,” Wilson said. “A lot of times these issues will come and go really quickly; they have a lifespan. It’s a time to help remind people that this never stopped being important to the LGBT residents in Holland just because it’s an older issue now. Every single day, it is as fresh as when they voted.”

The 8 p.m. performance is open to anyone 21 and older, and there is a $5 cover charge to get in.



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