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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The 23rd annual Chicago Pride Fest features JoJo Siwa, Sapphira Cristál and Bob the Drag Queen

Photo Courtesy of Stephen Koch/Northalsted
Chicago Pride Fest will have an estimated 100,000 people in attendance.

The 23rd annual Chicago Pride Fest, hosted by the Northalsted Business Alliance chamber of commerce, will take place along Halsted Street from Addison Street to Grace Street in Northalsted on Saturday and Sunday to celebrate LGBTQ+ life, culture and community.

The celebration will feature three stages with live entertainment, drag queens, a Youth Pride Space for teens, a new Senior Pride Center, Miss Foozie’s Proud Pet Parade and over 150 food and merchandise vendors.

The fest will be headlined by JoJo Siwa, Natasha Bedingfield, Sapphira Cristál, Kaleena Zanders, Bob The Drag Queen and Amber Riley. 

Additionally, a $15 donation for entry is suggested to support performers, festival workers and local community programs. 

“Chicago Pride Fest is really an opportunity to celebrate with our community and link with friends and family,” Vice-President of Northalsted Business Alliance and Chairperson of Chicago Pride Fest Mark Liberson said. “People who have not experienced Pride Fest are really going to enjoy the energy, positivity, talents and the creativity that makes the LGBTQ+ community a great community.”

Liberson said Chicago Pride Fest began as a small, one-day festival but has since grown to a large celebration with an estimated 100,000 people in attendance. 

Liberson said Chicago lives in a “bubble” because rights of LGBTQ+ people have been protected for much longer than in other parts of the country and much progress has been made to improve the lives of members of the Chicagoland LGBTQ+ community. 

But across the country that is not the same. Liberson said more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in 41 states. There is growing pushback against LGBTQ+ people as politicians demonize and attempt to take away their rights, he said. 

“It’s clear that while we celebrate what we’ve accomplished, there’s a battle going on to try to take away these rights,” Liberson said. 

There will also be local performers like Bev Rage & the Drinks, Firebrand and Bussy Kween Power Trip. Bev Rage & the Drinks is a queer punk rock band based in Chicago. 

The founder, lead guitarist and drag queen Beverly Rage said when the Bev Rage & the Drinks began getting booked, they were told they were too intense.

“(We were told) ‘we’re too much of an activist band, too queer to play in a pride fest,’ which doesn’t really make sense,” Bev said. 

Since then Bev said Chicago Pride has begun booking more intense acts like Bev Rage & the Drinks. She also highlighted that this year Bussy Kween Power Trip, a Black queer punk band from Chicago, will play in Chicago Pride Fest as another queer punk “activist” band. 

Bev said she also hopes in the future Chicago Pride Fest will bring in more local queer acts.

“It’s really important that they have very local, all original, all queer bands perform at their festival,” Bev said. “There are a lot of local LGBTQ+ performers in Chicago that could be highlighted at a performance space like this.”

Second City Country Dance Association’s performance troupe Firebrand is a country/western dance troupe that aims to bring country dancing to the LGBTQ+ community, according to Co-Director of the dance association’s performance troupe Firebrand and dancer John Huebler.

Dancer Pallas Kern said they enjoy seeing the smiles of people when they dance. They also said they really enjoy teaching other people the choreography.

“I’m always excited when somebody else wants to learn (the dancing) as well and looks at us and says that looks really fun,” Huebler said. “There’s just a lot of excitement in sharing that with the pride fest audience.”

Chicago Pride Fest will include many DJs, including DJ Ca$h Era who has played in Chicago Pride Fest for three years. She said she does not plan her sets in advance but instead feeds off the crowd’s energy.

DJ Ca$h Era said she has a lot of pride in DJing at the Chicago Pride Fest because she is one of the only Black female DJs performing. In Northalsted, formerly Boystown, women are always present but not always visible, especially onstage, she said.

“It’s not always commonplace to see a Black queer woman DJ, let alone a plus sized Black woman DJ,” DJ Ca$h Era said. “I know how eventful it was for me to see a woman DJ on the stage so I’m hoping that continues on when someone sees me on the stage as well.”

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