CU Pridefest is a gem of an event, and not just because of the plentiful tiaras and sparkles. Sure it's pretty awesome to see Downtown Champaign bathed in rainbow, but what's even more awesome is the air of positivity, inclusion, and acceptance on display, and seeing so many local entities represented.

Mayors Deb Feinen and Diane Marlin were the Grand Marshals, with the City of Urbana and Champaign City Council following, there were numerous middle school and high school Gay-Straight Alliance and other such groups set up in the vendor fair, there were local churches offering message of love and acceptance and hugs from moms and dads for anyone who needed them, and dozens of local businesses participated and put their welcome on display. 

It's marvelous that for this one weekend a year, C-U shows up in droves to show support for the LGBTQ+ community. However, while this weekend creates an inclusive atmosphere, that it doesn't replace the need for more queer spaces in C-U that go beyond Pridefest — something you can read more about in this article from Pride week last year — and something that the UP Center works towards throughout the rest of year. Find out how you can support their work here.

Photos by Kwamé Thomas