Pride Fest is happening this weekend, and it's a rather important one. It's the 10th anniversary of the local event, which has become the largest downstate Pride celebration. This year also recognizes the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, an event which launched the gay civil rights movement. It's come a long way from the first year. The UP Center has a wide variety of events planned over the course of the weekend, so you'll have a lot of ways to participate, and participate you should. Pride Fest is a treasure, and you will come away with all of the feelings. But, more importantly, it's an opportunity to honor and recognize 50 plus years of people fighting to just be acknowledged and deemed worthy to exist, to work, to marry, to freely express who they are. Here are some highlights of the upcoming weekend. Check out The Up Center's website to find the full list of events.

Wednesday, September 25th

Movies at McKinley: 5b, McKinley Foundation, 7 p.m.

The McKinley Foundation will kick off CU PrideFest with a free showing of the documentary "5B." We will take donations with proceeds going to the UP Center of Champaign County and the Greater Community AIDS Project.

Friday, September 27th

The Pride Fest Art Show, Quality Beer, 7 to 10 p.m.

Kick off pride weekend with artwork by local queer artists! Curated by Christopher Morris, they work to highlight the abounding local queer art scene.

Pride Fest Kick Off Party, Seven Saints, 9:30 p.m., $10 cover

Drag show starts at 10:30 pm with Caravan of Glam starting at 11:15pm!

Saturday, September 28th

Pride Hike, Meadowbrook Park, 9 a.m.

Show your pride and love of the outdoors by joining us on a hike! Champaign Outdoors is celebrating CU Pride Fest with a Pride Hike before the parade. Join us at Meadowbrook Park at 9am on Saturday, September 28th. We’ll even have some fun giveaways for a few lucky hikers.

Education Workshops, Big Grove Tavern, 1 p.m.

"Biblical Self-Defense for LGBTQIA Folk and Allies" presented by Reverend Leah Roberts-Mosser of the Community United Church of Christ

"Netflix and Chill" presented by Derrius Carter, MPH of C-U Public Health Department

"Hormone Replacement Therapy at Planned Parenthood" by Len Meyer of Planned Parenthood

Pride Parade, 3 p.m., downtown Champaign, 3 p.m.

The largest Pride Parade in downstate Illinois steps off in downtown Champaign at 3:00 PM.  This year's parade is led by Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs at the Trevor Project, a national organization focused on LGBTQ youth suicide prevention.  The parade features a broad cross-section of our local community, both queer and ally.

Ending Conversion Therapy: 50 Bills in 50 States, Hyatt Conference room, 5 p.m.

Please join us from 5-6 at the Hyatt Conference Room for a talk by Sam Brinton from The Trevor Project:

Sam is one of the world’s leading advocates for LGBTQ youth. They currently serve as the Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project, the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth.

Sunday, September 29th

Drag Brunch, Cityview Banquet and Meeting Center, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., $40 (purchase tickets here, for ages 19+)

Buffet service is first come, first serve until gone!
Cash bar also available.

Special performances by Caravan of Glam featuring:

Nae Nae Dominatrix (as seen on American Idol)
Jayla Rose Sullivan (as seen on Americas Got Talent)
Amora Dior Black ("The Bruce Lee of Drag")

With performances by our beloved local performers.

Asianah Bee Carrington
Carnivale Debauche (vaudeville/burlesque troupe)
Cationna Carrington
Ceduxion Carrington
Corrina Carrington
DeCevia Mann
Karma Carrington
Lola Carter
Span K. Nightly

All proceeds to be donated to The UP Center of Champaign County

Swirl Queer Film Festival, The Art Theater, 2 to 9 p.m., $10-65 (purchase tickets or passes here)

SWIRL! aims to shine a light on Queer filmmakers and celebrate art that is made for queer people, by queer people.

An inspiring selection of short films and feature length films have been curated, with different films and shorts showing at 2pm, 4pm, and 6:00pm – with a main feature film at each show time.

A screening of “Transgeek” is the 4pm headliner, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with the filmmakers, Kevin McCarthy and Sayer Johnson.

The organizers of SWIRL! Queer Film Festival recognize the importance of seeing our experiences, struggles, and triumphs presented visually with all of the beauty, progress, tragedy, and honesty of this resilient and fragile human experience. Everyone is whole-heartedly invited to explore these diversities on September 29th.

In addition to all of these, there are a host of activities for kids and teens happening at the Orpheum Children's Science Museum, and be sure to check out the vendor fair and main stage entertainmenthappening in the parking lot from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

Top photo by Sam Logan. All other images from The Up Center Facebook page