Big-Time Pride in Small-Town Illinois

By @ 05/07/19 in Gay Illinois, Gay pride, Gay travel, Gay-Friendly, Gay-friendly Illinois, Illinois, LGBT Illinois, LGBT travel Illinois, ManAboutWorld, Travel

River City Pride, Peoria, Illinois in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazinePride season is upon us and there’s no shortage of inclusive events in the urban centers and historic townships of Illinois. Whether you’re looking for an excuse to get out of the city and support smaller LGBTQ+ communities or don’t want to stray too far from an L station in Chicago, the Prairie State’s strong queer community has you covered.

Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey

The River City Pride Festival — you might know it as Whiskey City Pride — is Peoria’s annual celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. Just a couple hours southwest of Chicago, the event celebrates Central Illinois’ vibrant queer community as well as its legendary distilleries. It’s slated for August 3 at the Peoria Park District Glen Oak Amphitheater and is a great excuse to get out of the city, enjoy the region’s famous whiskeys, Peoria’s fantastic park district, and celebrate all things LGBTQ+. The free event is put on in part by Peoria Proud, a coalition that promotes community unity through education and outreach.

New Queer on the Block

There’s a new family-friendly pride celebration starting up just a stone’s throw from Chicago. The Buffalo Grove Inaugural Pride Parade in Buffalo Grove, just 40 minutes northwest of Chicago, will kick off the quaint village’s annual community celebration on Sunday, June 2. The event is free and will feature floats, live music, entertainment and a megadose of rainbow costumes and pageantry. The event has garnered massive support from Buffalo Grove’s LGBTQ+ community and ally volunteers led by Molly, the queer 12-year-old who led efforts to bring Pride to her hometown. Get out there and support an exciting new LGBTQ+ event.

A Decade of Pride in Urbana-Champaign

PrideFest, Urbana-Champaign’s annual pride celebration, is going strong in its 10th year as southern Illinois’ go-to queer celebration. The event features live music, guilty-pleasure food and family-friendly activities, so get decked out in your best rainbow duds come September.  (The date for this year’s pride is still pending. Check here for more information as the event draws closer. While Pridefest is a family-friendly event, Urbana-Champaign is a college town, so party-seekers should take note. Be sure to thank PrideFest’s organizers at the Up Center, a pillar in the region’s LGBTQ+ community, while you’re there!

River City Pride, Peoria, Illinois in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineLove in the Land of Lincoln

The state capital’s LGBTQ+ community runs (almost) as deep as its love for Lincoln. The annual PrideFest,which is going on its ninth year, brings several musical acts, tons of scrumptious food vendors, queer arts and craft, fashion and out and proud vendors to Southern Illinois for one Saturday on May 18, 2019. The free event is going down at the Phoenix Center, one of the region’s predominant LGBTQ+ resource and event organizers. Springfield is three hours southwest of Chicago, so if you’re headed from the Windy City consider booking a room for the night.

The Swedish Pride celebration in Chicago

While not a traditional pride, Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood throws its annual Midsommarfest every summer, an event that’s become so popular in the LGBTQ community here it’s become something of an honorary queer event. The low-cost, family-friendly event runs June 7-9 and will split its time between celebrating the neighborhood’s Nordic roots and its present distinction as one of Chicago’s best and most vibrant gay communities. Round up the crew (whether that’s shirtless daddy bears or children, everyone’s welcome here!) and practice your best Swedish greetings—Skål!—and get ready to dance around the Maypole. There’s a $5 suggested donation to get into the street festival on Friday, June 7. (The fee goes up to $10 on Saturday and Sunday, but entrance buys you free admission to the Swedish American Museum and a whole lot of meatball samples.)

Whether it’s in one of the most famous cities in the world or a small township of a few thousand, LGBTQ pride is everywhere in Illinois. Bring your kids, your friends, and your allies to celebrate some of the best small-town prides in America.

More Gay-friendly Illinois

This is just one of our many favorite stories and hotspots to help you discover gay-friendly Illinois for yourself. Continue your exploration here.

Enjoy a more immersive Illinois experience in the magazine:

ManAboutWorld is an app-based travel magazine by gay men which provides travel inspiration and trip-planning information for all whether you’re in the LGBTQ+ community or are an ally. It’s built exclusively for mobile devices and is not available in print. We first published these articles in the spring 2019 issue and make them available here for your enjoyment. The app and issues are all free. Download it for Apple devices or Android devices.

Photos: Cre8jax



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