Smile Politely

C-U Pride Fest: A review in pictures

Photo by Eric Ponder

A glorious time was had by all. I was there from noon until a little past 10:00 and I watched as the crowd got larger and larger, and younger and younger. The weather was perfect, the cupcakes were divine, the kids were cute, the adults were happy, the music was wonderful, and on and on and on.

I briefly spoke with Kevin Bowersox-Johnson yesterday, and he estimated 3,500–4,000 attendees:

The purpose of pride is to celebrate the contributions of the [LGBTQ and ally] communities in this town. To let people know we exist; we’re here. Because of some of the trials and tribulations that members of our community — and our community as a whole — face, it’s really important to come together and celebrate one another and our accomplishments.

Kevin also gave all credit for the festival’s success to its tireless, selfless volunteers and sponsors:

We could not do any of this without our sponsors and the amazing volunteers that we had throughout the entire event, both prior to and after festival. And also all the people that donated to the raffles, everyone that came together. Fluid Events and and 88 Broadway were wonderful to partner with.

This, for me, was the best pride yet. We had multiple stages and we had a flow where you could be in one area of the space with one environment that had its beat, and within a few steps you could be in a completely different environment. And yet it all came together.

I honestly have no complaints this year; I can’t think of anything to say that isn’t glowing. Hell, I even had the delicious pleasure of having this conversation while setting up Pygmalion’s vendor table (a sponsor this year) in the parking lot:

Man [friendly]: Excuse me. What’s happening here today?
Me: This is Champaign-Urbana’s Pride festival.
Man [shutting down]: Oh.
Me: Yes. You know. The gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender pride festival that happens every year? It’s organized by the UP Center, our local LGBT community center.
Man: ::walks off::

OK, so that happened (and I might be reading things into it that weren’t there). But it must be pointed out that two other families—dads with their kids—stopped by and asked me the same question. When I told them what we were all about, they walked their excited kids right in and stayed all morning. I know this because I saw them, and one kid kept asking me, “When are the animals coming?”

These are our twin cities, folks. Twice as many allies as not.

So without further adieu, a photo review of Champaign-Urbana’s Third Annual Pride Festival.

Family Fun

Photo by Eric Ponder

The kids had a blast with their own little foam party

And how adorable is this kid? Must be good genes. (photo by John Steinbacher)



The Mourning After


Illini Contraband

Mike & Kayla

Photo by Eric Ponder

Photo by Eric Ponder


Lance Keene (Photo by Eric Ponder)

Photo by Eric Ponder

The Dirty Feathers

Photo by Eric Ponder

Infuriatingly, my battery ran out at a crucial moment in this song. It was blinking the whole time and I was thinking, “Please, please, please.” Alas.


Stephen Leonard

I wasn’t able to get photos of Stigma because, as you’ll see in the video, there simply wasn’t a good shot to be had.




Photo by Eric Ponder



DRAG SHOW (all photos by Eric Ponder). My apologies for not knowing everyone’s names.

Holden Ryder Gently

Aurora Lamont-Carrington

Freddie Fahrenheit (warming up)


FOAM PARTY (All photos by Eric Ponder)

Foam Party (starring Kevin Bowersox-Johnson)




Photo by Eric Ponder

Photo by Eric Ponder

Photo by Eric Ponder

Photo by Eric Ponder

Photo by Eric Ponder

Dancing at Pride Fest (music by Desafinado)


Check out our Facebook page for many, many more photos.


All photos by Tracy Nectoux, unless otherwise indicated.

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