Celebrations for LGBTQ Pride Month took place Sunday in at least two Will County communities to recognize lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer history.
In Mokena, community organizers and members of the Southwest Suburban Activists wanted to make a bigger event for Pride Month than last year’s parade. This year’s celebration was at Yunker Farm, where an amphitheater was the prime spot for speakers and dancers performing in drag.
Kris Robin, who helped the Southwest Suburban Activists organize the event, said they wanted to see a Pride festival in the suburbs for locals to be able to attend.
“Pride [in downtown Chicago] is so inaccessible to a lot of people in the suburbs, especially younger kids,” Robin said. “So we really wanted to bring an event to the ’burbs that let people know there’s a community here, too, [and] that it’s OK to be who you are.”
Robin also said the organizers wanted to make the event a point to engage attendees politically. There were multiple people walking around asking others if they were registered to vote and giving out information on how to register. The Lincoln-Way and Frankfort Township Democratic organizations, as well as Moms Demand Action, set up booths.
There also were other LGBTQ-friendly vendors selling clothes, stuffed animals and even children’s books.
A group called Bolingbrook Pride hosted its event the same day. The group was started earlier this year to encourage acceptance of people with a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities within the village.
“There was no explicitly LGBTQ-positive events in Bolingbrook, so I endeavored to have a Bolingbrook Pride festival,” Bolingbrook Pride Chairman Bradley Walker said. “After finding several like-minded individuals, we’re able to formulate a group toward this goal and formed what is now Bolingbrook Pride.”
Walker said Bolingbrook Pride aims to have events throughout the year to educate the public about and normalize LGBTQ people and provide support and resources for LGBTQ people. He added that the Bolingbrook Pride picnic would be a good way to introduce the group to the community because, as he said, a Pride event can be “jarring.”
He said that although society has made significant strides in terms of LGBTQ acceptance, many people may still be unaware of the scale of individuals who identify as LGBTQ within their own community.
“A Pride event shows to the rest of the community that LGBTQ issues are local issues and not some conceptual issue that is happening in the newspapers,” Walker said.