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 youth car parade cultivates safe space amidst increased anti-LGBTQ+ legislation nationwide

Joyce Li/The Daily Northwestern
Evanston Pride held its 4th annual youth car parade Sunday.

With their vehicles covered in rainbow streamers, balloons and paper mâché, dozens of families drove through Evanston on Sunday to celebrate Evanston Pride’s fourth annual Youth Car Parade. 

The parade passed through nearly every ward in the city, ending at Ingraham Park. Spectators lined the streets at Robert Crown Community Center, Fountain Square and the intersection between Chicago Avenue and Main Street. 

Evanston Pride co-president Rada Yovovich said she’s happy to see the parade grow in attendance and commitment every year. Yovovich encouraged residents to “show up” this Pride Month, whether by checking in with LGBTQ+ family and friends or by donating to LGBTQ+ organizations.

“Evanston is a very progressive place in a lot of ways, but nowhere is really safe from anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation and hate crimes and violence and discrimination — it impacts all of us,” Yovovich said. “It’s important to keep showing that it’s safe to be visible, that it’s safe to convene, that we keep ourselves safe.” 

In 2023, 600 bills seeking to restrict health care, education, legal recognition or expression for transgender people were introduced in governments across the U.S. — more than three times as many as were introduced the previous year. Six months into 2024, 586 such bills have been introduced, and 41 have already passed. 

Mayor Daniel Biss attended the pre-parade activities to speak in support of the transgender community, which he said has been vilified across the country as a political mobilization strategy. 

“We can’t change all of that from our vantage point in Evanston, but what we can do is make a clear statement that that’s not what we believe,” Biss said. “In a world where, unfortunately, trans youth in particular need safe havens, we better as a community stand up and say we are that safe haven.”

Participants first gathered in the Evanston Township High School parking lot to decorate their vehicles and enjoy performances from local LGBTQ+ artists. Yovovich said this is the first time the event has included pre-parade entertainment. 

Performers included LGBTQ+ dance group The Second City Outlaws, marching band Clamor & Lace Noise Brigade and Evanston resident and singer Zachary Wandel.

Chicago-based drag queen Muffy Fishbasket acted as the parade’s grand marshal. Though she has previously performed in Evanston to host drag bingo at Double Clutch Brewing Company, this is Fishbasket’s first time participating in the Evanston Pride parade. 

“There’s a lot of rich culture in our ’burbs, and I think it’s important to reach out and bring a little bit of the city to them and show love,” Fishbasket said. 

Many ETHS students and their families attended the youth-oriented event. Evanston residents Jeanine and Aaron Shimer attended in memory of their son, Rowan, who was transgender, they said, and who died in an accident two years ago. 

“We honor Rowan and his legacy by doing things that are important to him, like celebrating pride,” Aaron Shimer said. “ It’s really important to us that we help teens as well as their parents, to give them full support and help them navigate starting their journey.” 

The Shimers, alongside Rowan’s family and friends, decorated their car with a paper mâché dragon in pink, blue, white and a rainbow pattern — the colors of the pride and transgender flags. Many attendees said the dragon — which coincidentally matched this year’s theme — was a highlight of the parade. 

Johan Gallardo, who recently moved to Evanston from Boystown, attended the parade with their partner and a friend. The three, all artists, decorated their pickup truck with colorful paper flowers. 

Gollardo said he was thankful to Evanston Pride for organizing the event, which allowed him to get involved with Evanston’s queer community. 

“This has been one of my favorite memories of the last couple years,” Bollardo said. “Post pandemic, life has been different, and this kind of gave me that joy that we used to feel sometimes before.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: joyycee_li

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