We are in the midst of Pride Fest week in Champaign-Urbana, and that culminates in a whole bunch of events this week from Queer Homecoming to the Pride Fest Fair and Parade, to a Drag Show. To see how the celebration has grown since its first year is astounding. When I spoke about this growth, and the expansion of programming generally with Uniting Pride’s Director of Operations Nicole Frydman last year she said this:
“We know that people are pretty desperate for safe and affirming spaces, where they feel free to be entirely who they are, but the threat of violence, the online attacks and the in personal attacks are increasing. We need this as an LGBTQ+ community, so we’re finding a way to make more things happen. In addition to direct service like support groups or free pantry or all that other stuff, it’s creating a community. The creating of events. It seems fun, and it is fun, but it’s also about the emotional well-being of our community members.”
It’s a great reminder that underlying all the celebration and joy of Pride Fest there is a continued need for support and action. In June, our Editorial Board took a look at where Illinois and C-U are in general in terms of LGBTQ+ rights. In short:
“We need to be aware and willing to show up, push back, and listen when people say they are being harmed. In Illinois, and in C-U, the landscape of inclusion and acceptance is more promising than many other places across the country, but the work is never done.”
If you consider yourself an ally, a great way to be involved in Pride is by volunteering your time. There are still some spots available for this weekend. And let’s all continue to pay attention, especially as we inch closer and closer to election season and hateful rhetoric and actions increase.
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