Dave Wait doesn’t work for the sake of recognition.
In 2004, Wait signed up to volunteer with Motor City Pride, a non-profit organization that produces Michigan’s largest pride festival and organizes annual LGBTQ+ community events. He enjoyed his first volunteer shift so much that he began increasing his participation over the next several years.
Fast forward to 2022, and Wait’s mindset hasn’t changed as he’s become the chairperson of Motor City Pride.
“In participating every year, I learn that events like Motor City Pride provide a safe space for these people, a place for them to be their authentic selves,” Wait said. “I think that’s what makes me proudest — to provide that place, help people in their journey into the LGBTQ+ community and really find who they are while connecting with others who want to support them.”
The Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and Comerica Bank wrap up Pride Month’s Game Changers series this week by honoring Wait. He joins other June Game Changers honorees Dave Garcia, Jan Stevenson and Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow as community members doing extraordinary work to ensure inclusion and equality for the LGBTQ+ community across metro Detroit.
“The Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers have been proud supporters of Motor City Pride for many years, experiencing first-hand the passion that Dave Wait and hundreds of volunteers put into this important work,” said Kevin Brown, director of community impact for Ilitch Sports + Entertainment.
“We’re honored to celebrate Dave as a Game Changers honoree for his commitment to deliver experiences that place the welcomeness and inclusivity of Detroit on full display for thousands of visitors every year.”
When Wait is not volunteering with Motor City Pride, he is working as the state director for three career and technical student organizations — DECA, SkillsUSA and FCCLA — which annually provide leadership and career development conferences for more than 14,000 Michigan high school students.
According to Wait, his full-time job responsibilities coincide with his role around Motor City Pride.
“I plan a lot of conferences and different events,” said Wait. “Since I have a lot of those experiences already, I’m familiar with coordinating and putting together teams of people.”
By blending his experience and passion, Wait has helped grow the annual festival into an event that attracts more than 55,000 attendees annually.
“As humans, we thrive on personal connections,” Wait said. “Having such a large-scale festival like Motor City Pride allows a diverse array of people to connect with one another, celebrate equality and work for advocacy.”
Motor City Pride began in June 1972, when the first LGBTQ+ march was held in downtown Detroit. Over the years, it expanded to include a picnic after the march, evolving into the festival it is today.
Volunteering helps Wait understand who he is as an LGBTQ+ advocate.
“I realized I’m a more of a behind-the-scenes type of activist,” Wait said. “I think of myself as someone who works to provide spaces and activities for others so they can get involved in the movement.”
He also said his time with Motor City Pride has opened his eyes to the diversity within the LGBTQ+ movement itself.
“There’s a lot of different needs, interests and areas that people want to or currently participate in,” he said. “I try to work and fulfill those spaces for these individuals with the goal that they can become activists themselves.”
Wait is thankful for all Motor City Pride volunteers, but said he is extremely appreciative of individuals like his husband, Chris Pollum.
“I couldn’t do all the things that I do without his support,” Wait said. “He is truly there assisting me all the way. When we are working to create change, we are truly working together.”
To learn more about Motor City Pride and how to support its initiatives, visit MotorCityPride.org.