Carnations, cocktails and queens: How Evanston plans to ring in Pride Month

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Eliana Storkamp/The Daily Northwestern

Businesses and organizations around Evanston are gearing up for Pride Month celebrations with a focus on inclusive events.

Nixie Strazza, Reporter

As Pride Month approaches in June, Evanston is getting ready to celebrate. From car parades to youth engagement opportunities and events recognizing the hard-won battles of LGBTQ+ activists, local residents have much to look out for. 

At the heart of this year’s Pride programming is Evanston Pride, the city’s first LGBTQ+-specific nonprofit organization. The organization aims to uplift queer voices and advocate for underrepresented groups through community outreach, fundraising and inclusive events. 

Evanston Pride’s 2022 celebrations will be centered around themes of unity, equity and visibility. Evanston Pride President Jackson Adams said the themes encapsulate the organization’s core sentiments and represents the Evanston it hopes to create. 

“We as a queer community need to be united,” Adams said. “It goes back to representation for everyone and ensuring that all are welcome here.”

For the 2022 logo, Evanston Pride chose a rainbow rose with black and brown strikes to represent anti-racist action within the LGBTQ+ community and a section with the pink, white and blue stripes of the trans flag. It is designed by Evanston Township High School graduate and local artist Agito Abbott. 

Representative of the alarming rate at which trans people have been murdered, as well as those lost to violence, the rose will be a prevalent component of the Candle Lighting and Remembrance Ceremony to be held June 12, Adams said. 

Adams said other forms of floral imagery will be incorporated into Evanston Pride with explanatory postcards. Green carnations, like those worn by Oscar Wilde to signal his sexual orientation, will be handed out at the parade. Attendees are encouraged to dress in vibrant tones reminiscent of pansies.

“We are encouraging everyone to come out in bright colors and be their authentic selves,” Adams said. 

Additional Evanston Pride events on the docket include the Youth Car Parade on June 5 and the LGQBTQIA+ Community Picnic on July 30. Adams said businesses were required to submit an equity statement stating their commitment to equitable and inclusive practices in order to participate in, or financially contribute to, Pride celebrations.

The Graduate Hotel, which sponsors Evanston Pride, is hosting a Pride Happy Hour on June 3 with themed cocktails based on musicals for every color of the rainbow. Guests will be able to sip on a Moulin Rouge!-based red beverage or a “Wickedly” green cocktail while listening to live performance from Hannah “DJ Vitigrrl” Viti (Communication ʼ20). 

Proceeds from all bar sales and pop-up store purchases will serve as a fundraiser for Evanston Pride, said Graduate Hotels Senior Field Marketing Manager Courtney Hunter. 

With a “hyper-local” focus and a mission to be a meeting place for all, Hunter said The Graduate embodies the principles of Pride year round. 

“The past couple of years, Pride has looked a little different,” Hunter said. “It is exciting for us to be able to gather again and support a great community organization.”

Evanston Public Library also has a slew of Pride-related activities planned for residents of all ages including a Pride Fashion Sewing Session, a teens-only Pride Party and LGBTQ+ book talks. The library will also feature a Drag Queen Storytime, which will be led by Chicago-based drag artist Coco Sho-Nell and feature a post-story craft related to the reading. 

Sho-Nell said Drag Queen Storytime gives children the opportunity to see diverse identities. She said fostering open mindedness from an early age through books encourages children to ask questions and embrace their inner “magic.”

“It’s okay not to know who you are or who you want to be,” Sho-Nell said. “As you’re growing, you’re expanding and you’re learning about the world. Letting kids know it’s okay to be different is a wonderful thing.”

Adams said for this year in particular, the Pride celebration is a response to increased attacks on LGBTQ+ freedoms such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and threats against marriage equality, abortion rights and basic equality. 

He said Evanston Pride will continue to support residents and visitors. Rather than diluting the historical lessons of Pride Month, Adams said there is room for residents to balance communitywide celebrations with calls to continue activism around the city. 

Sho-Nell added no matter the way residents choose to engage in Pride Month, the exposure to new experiences and perspectives is part of the journey towards greater unity, equity and inclusion. 

“​​Once we have that exposure and that joy and love from these moments of interaction, then we’re going to have a better society as a whole,” Sho-Nell said. 

Email: nixiestrazza20[email protected] 

Twitter: @NixieStrazza

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