The first big weekend of Pride Month is days away, with three Pride Fests happening in Illinois, three in Iowa, and one Pride Fest that includes both states.
Along with seven communities’ large Pride events, you can also find more than a dozen other related events to help get your Pride spirit rolling.
Here’s a quick rundown of essentials for the first weekend of Pride Month 2023:
Seven Illinois, Iowa communities hold Pride Fests June 2-4
The Quad Cities Pride Festival, one of two large annual Pride fests each year for the seven cities in the so-called Quad Cities that straddle the Iowa/Illinois border, takes place June 2-3 at the waterfront Schwiebert Park, just across the Mississippi River from Davenport in Rock Island. This event, which starts 5 p.m. Friday and continues from noon to midnight Saturday, features a vendor fair, food trucks and live music and drag throughout the event.
In addition to host Ginger F. Snaps, many local drag performers, Mary Quite Contrary’s House of Burlesque, annual Pride favorite Jordan Danielsen, Quad Cities area DJ DJTJ Peeps, and several other live bands. Quad Cities Pride Festival also announced it will feature Maddy Morphosis, the first-ever straight cast member of RuPaul’s Drag Race, who appeared on the show in 2022.
On the Iowa side, the Ottumwa Pride Block Party takes place for a third straight year Saturday, and once again welcomes special guest Aime Wichtendahl, a Hiawatha City Council member who is also Iowa’s first-ever openly transgender elected official. Ottumwa will also welcome drag performers and vocalist Paige Clouse plus indie rocker Miss Christine.
Dubuque also holds its annual Pride Family Picnic Saturday, a family-friendly outdoor party. And out west, along the Iowa/Nebraska border, Sioux City holds two days of fun coming up: a Friday night block party, and its big Saturday event with a new pop-up addition from the Sioux City Film Festival.
In Illinois, Rockford in northwest Illinois holds its big annual Pride Kick-off Party Saturday evening at The Office Niteclub. Also, two Chicago suburbs hold their first-ever Pride events this weekend. Niles kicks off its first-ever event with a Rainbow Walk and gathering Saturday, and Elgin holds its first-ever Pride Parade and Festival starting 10 a.m. Saturday.
Another 15 related Pride events are also happening this weekend
Faith gatherings, drag bingo, family-friendly crafts, activism and more are also part of another 15 related Pride events happening from June 1 to 4 throughout Illinois and Iowa. Several of those events are happening in the Quad Cities — including a NOH8 photo shoot in Davenport Thursday evening. The first 200 people to get in line will receive their NOH8 digital photos at no charge (they typically cost $25 to $40). NOH8 is a human rights campaign that started in 2008 to stand up for marriage equality and now champions equal rights of all kinds.
The LGBTQ-identified church hosting this photo shoot, MCC of the Quad Cities in Davenport, will also host a special Pride service Sunday along with a Pride Potluck afterwards. The Quad Cities wraps up its first Pride weekend with a Pride Drag Brunch at The Diner in Davenport Sunday afternoon.
Elsewhere in Iowa, the Cedar Falls Human Rights Commission and the LGBTQ+ Coalition Cedar Valley join together for a Pride Month Recognition Event Thursday evening. In Central Iowa, Capital City Pride in Des Moines kicks off its month of events with a Pride Walk Thursday evening, an I-Cubs Pride Night Friday, and several more events.
Down in southern Illinois, Carbondale has two Pride-related events for you to choose from. Friday night, you can check out the opening reception for Seen: A Multimedia Photography Exhibit from nonbinary artists A.B. Art and Kimberly Needham. Or, join the County to County Pride Run Saturday. Or, Saturday night, head to Hangar 9 for a three-band concert to help kick off Pride month and raise money for Pride in Action-Southern Il.
In central Illinois, you can help raise money for the River City Pride Fest happening in mid-July by attending West Peoria’s Parking Lot Pride Party Saturday.
Once again, Chicago suburbs have a variety of Pride-supportive happenings this weekend. They include a karaoke fundraiser Saturday for Bolingbrook Pride, which holds its big festival in July, and Naper Pride’s first of five “Hometown Pride” shopping events every Sunday in June.
And Galena, a small northwest Illinois town lauded nationally for its LGBTQ-affirming vibe, holds a “Let Your Love Grow” crafts event for all ages Thursday evening.
Pride-themed film series start Thursday in Davenport, Iowa City
Thanks to two nonprofit collaborations in Davenport and Iowa City, queer cinema has been making a stronger home among Pride events in recent years. In Davenport, the Figge Art Museum and the nonprofit QC Pride are offering four weeks of LGBTQ-themed film, starting this Thursday with “Holding the Man” from 2015. The Australian film is based on a book of the same name by author Tim Conigrave, writes Rotten Tomatoes, and portrays Conigrave’s 15-year relationship with partner John Caleo and the two men’s experience in the era of HIV/AIDS.
And in Iowa, FilmScene and Iowa City Pride are taking their four-year-old queer cinema collaboration to a new level with weekly screenings this June. Pride at FilmScene is a program that’s been showing monthly queer cinema since 2019; this year in June, the series goes weekly and is titled “Doing Gender.” It starts Thursday with the 2021 horror film “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair,” written and directed by nonbinary filmmaker Jane Schoenbrun.
Looking Ahead: register for Pride crafts, trivia, run/walks, parades
Some events coming up this month require registration or payment, so here’s a list of links to help plan ahead:
- Pride Trivia and Drag Bingo in Galena, Ill. June 8 and 9
- The Teen Pride Party at Moline Public Library June 9
- Pride crafts at Beadology Iowa in Iowa City, happening with Pride elastic bracelets and chevron rainbow beaded bracelets June 10 and a Marsha P. Johnson “peyote portrait” June 24
- the Red Ribbon GALA to Benefit The Project of the Quad Cities June 10
- the CR Pride Parade June 10 in Cedar Rapids, Ia.
- the Capital City Pride Stride 5K coming June 10 in Des Moines
- On June 17, the Iowa City Pride Parade and the QC Unity Pride Parade in Moline
- the Pride 5K Walk, Run and Roll in Moline June 25
For a full rundown of more than 80 Pride events throughout Illinois and Iowa, check out the following links:
(If you know of an event that should be part of this round-up, email email@example.com)