New mural at Bay View Center represents diversity, Pride Month
ALPENA — In honor of Pride Month and diversity, a bright new mural behind Bay View Center has been painted to remind us that we may all be different, but beautiful things happen when we come together.
Bay View Center is a drop-in center for people diagnosed with mental health conditions. The mural is located in the garden area behind the center, where members can enjoy the outdoors alone or in each other’s company.
“Last year, we just wanted to do something with the garden area, so we brightened up the wall, and the members chose the color,” said BVC member and artist Rick Wcisel.
After looking at the turquoise wall for awhile, he thought it needed something more. So he got approval from the BVC board to paint a colorful mural depicting silhouettes of people engaged in different activities.
He used an overhead projector to project the silhouettes onto the wall before tracing, then painting them. Each silhouette is in a different bold color to match the Pride Flag during June, which is National Pride Month.
“It’s perfect, because what we’re trying to do is show diversity of all walks of life, and all members that come here,” Wcisel said. “But then we have so many people that are falling through the cracks or don’t feel welcome because of the LGBTQ. And it is Pride Month, so we’re adding that to the membership.”
As a gay man who spent more than 30 years hiding his true self from the world, Wcisel is excited to be a part of a diverse group of people who support him. He is now engaged to a man, living his life openly, free to be himself.
A diversity support group is held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday nights at BVC, located at 710 N. 2nd Ave.
“I wanted something like that in this town,” Wcisel said of the support group. “Because I lived a lie for 30-some years. I was married, had kids … So, finally I am who I am. It’s kind of a passion of mine to do this and show support for others.”
He came out as a gay man in 2013.
“I went out to get milk and I never came back,” he said with a laugh.
The group is open to anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community, or anyone feeling isolated or marginalized because of their identity, race, religion, and more.
“We always have food,” said Jill Busha, executive director of BVC. “Family members are welcome, too.”
“It’s just an open talk, and everybody just shares where they’re at,” Wcisel said.
“It’s like an LGBTQ dinner,” said BVC member Tammy Lumm. “Everybody brings something in.”
She added you don’t have to bring food. You can just show up.
Lumm is from Detroit and has been in Alpena for a year.
“I couldn’t believe the stigma of it when I got up here,” Lumm said.
BVC, which is located a few blocks north of the Downtown Development Authority boundaries, had originally wanted to paint the mural out front, but the landlord wanted to retain the family’s history with the old Dick’s Toys painting on the building adjacent to the BVC parking lot, Wcisel said.
“There’s some sentimental attachment to that,” Wcisel explained.