Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Evanston Pride, PFLAG, Gender Affirming Evanston celebrate queer joy

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William Tong/The Daily Northwestern
About 35 community members attended the queer joy celebration Saturday evening.

About 35 community members gathered at Roycemore School on Saturday evening for an All Ages Queer Joy Celebration. It was the first planned collaboration between Evanston Pride, PFLAG Evanston and Gender Affirming Evanston. 

Some attendees danced to Taylor Swift, Madonna and Lil Nas X in one part of the school, while others made signs and other arts and crafts in the library. Organizers provided dinner, complete with pizza, rainbow napkins and Skittles.

The purpose of Saturday’s event was to create a safe place for people of all ages — particularly young people — to celebrate their families and identities, said Rada Yovovich, co-president and founding board member of Evanston Pride.

“Being able to make a space with the intention of creating a safe and inclusive and queer-centered dance — we all got very excited,” she said. 

Several queer couples brought their children to the event. While they said Evanston is accepting toward LGBTQ+ people, some added that it’s still important for young people to have these opportunities.

For resident Luke Harris-Ferree — who moved to Evanston two years ago — the queer joy celebration was a space to feel comfortable as a family. 

“For her to know that other families like ours exist and to have that space and to see other parents like her parents — we always try to open that space up to her,” Harris-Ferree said. 

Harris-Ferree said he continues to bring his child to similar events so she can continue to learn about the diverse families and identities that exist.

Mary Molyneaux, who moved to Evanston in 2009, said her family attended Saturday’s event to help her daughter feel comfortable and confident being the child of LGBTQ+ parents, especially since most students come from straight families. 

“We want to show her there’s people for everyone,” said Molyneaux, who married her wife in 2010. 

Yovovich said because many school events like prom or other dances tend to be more heteronormative, these events are especially important opportunities for young people. 

In addition to dancing and arts and crafts, organizers hosted an open mic toward the end of the celebration. Resident Zachary Wandel sang Rihanna’s “We Found Love.”

“That song is very special to be nice to other people, treat people right, be friendly, don’t say bad names to other people,” Wandel said. “I just wanted to show people I care about everyone.” 

Yovovich said Saturday’s joint event between Evanston Pride, PFLAG and Gender Affirming Evanston represents the beginning of a long-term partnership the groups are naming the Queer Joy Consortium. 

Evanston Pride will host Evanston’s annual pride youth car parade on June 2. The three groups are also hoping to offer community information sessions about gender-affirming care and LGBTQ support in schools, Evanston PFLAG board member Jenny Heckathorne said. 

With legislation around the country being passed “against the queer community,” people need to come together to celebrate queer joy, Heckathorne said.

“This has been so much fun,” she said. “I think that we will probably start planning more celebration stuff as well.”

Email: [email protected] 

X: @william2tong

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