Evanston Pride, the startup LGBT organization for one of Chicago's largest suburbs, is inspiring Evanstonians to decorate the front of their homes and local businesses to celebrate Pride month in June.
The tenderfoot nonprofit would like participants to sign up, so they know who to credit ahead of the June 26 observance.
“Since we can't have a traditional Parade this year, we are excited to turn all of Evanston into a one big parade that celebrates the community, and calls for intersectional justice,” says small business owner and Evanston Pride board president Jackson Adams. “We are actively seeking people who live and work in Evanston to participate.”
Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss was a major sponsor of the marriage equality bill that legalized same-sex marriage in Illinois.
“Last year, as the pandemic changed all public events, I was delighted to participate in a small but boisterous and joyful Pride car parade,” the new mayor told GoPride.com.
“This summer, other, more creative approaches will be taken. Whatever the medium, what matters most is that Evanston stands with and celebrates our LGBT community, who are vital to our civic and cultural life—not just during June but every single day,” he continued.
Small business owner Daniel Aquino, co-owner of Coffee Lab and Roasters, 910 Noyes St., with partner Jason Kim, shares the mayor's sentiments.
Aquino believes that having safe spaces in Evanston's neighborhoods for LGBT persons are essential.
He says safe spaces should be “where everyone feels comfortable in their own skin, can hold hands with the person they love without shame, and are places where the questioning can feel comfortable talking about their experiences.”
Aquino adds, “It's what Coffee Lab has become for a couple employees, who either came out, or are in some gradual place along the way to fully accepting who they are.”
The float idea is inspired by the colorful trademark floats of the one million attended Chicago Pride Parade usually held on the last Sunday of June. GoPride.com broke the news that it was pushed to October 3, considering continued pandemic complications.
Organizers also thought of the creativity of Mardi Gras floats in New Orleans, as a motivation.
“Your decorations should strive to acknowledge that individuals of all races, identities, orientations, abilities, age, weight, and other expressions and manifestations struggle together for [LGBT] justice,” Evanston Pride told GoPride.com.
The aspiring nonprofit has offered general themes for 'home' and 'shop' floats.
“Tell us the story of a significant event or person in the fight for [LGBT] equality,” Evanston Pride said. Or “speak out on intersectional issues: Black Trans Lives Matter, Stop Asian Hate, or any of the injustices that are affecting marginalized communities.”
The group also said Evanstonians cannot go wrong taking inspiration from the array of Pride flags—the classic Pride flag, the Philadelphia Pride flag (which includes black and brown stripes representing people of color, the trans Pride flag (featuring pink and blue stripes sandwiching a white stripe), among others.
Aquino says Coffee Lab and Roasters will be decorating to show support during Pride month.
Evanston Pride has chosen the theme of 'Proud to Be,' which “celebrates the deep intersectionality of the [LGBT] community with other marginalized communities, all of whom struggle for justice together.”
The theme is most significant in the wake of increased violence against transgender persons, rampant bullying of LGBT youth, the Black Lives Matter movement for police reform and the end of systemic racism, and significant spikes in anti-Asian sentiment—prodded by the words of the previous presidential administration.
“No matter how you identify, you are welcome at Evanston Pride,” says board member Patty Finley.
Evanston Pride has planned other Pride activities for the June 26 observance, including a 1 p.m. car parade celebrating Evanston's LGBT youth. It would be followed by a 3 p.m. reservation-only community picnic. The day would be capped by a 7 p.m. candle lighting and remembrance ceremony.
“This will be the first time anyone has tried to organize Evanston's [LGBT] residents for the express purpose of just meeting each one another,” says board member Sandie Elliott.
Organizers would like participants to go to EvanstonPride.org
to sign up, make reservations, and see other updates.Related: Pride is back in 2021! Everything you need to know for Pride Month in Chicago