Parade prepares to depart Ryan Field. (Photo by Matt Simonette)

Though Mother Nature threw a few curve balls this weekend, Evanston Pride, Inc. nevertheless staged its LGBTQ Pride Parade the afternoon of Saturday, June 26.

The organization’s planned picnic and candle-lighting ceremony will be rescheduled thanks to the region’s inclement weather, but organizers were determined to let the parade proceed as scheduled, despite a heavy rainstorm. 

“One of the of the hallmarks of the queer community is that we always find a way, no matter how uncomfortable and inconvenient it might be,” said Rada Yovovich, one of the event’s organizers. “We still find a way to show up for each other and recognize what matters, which is continuing to celebrate our community and continuing to work for equality in the world.”

Rada Yovovich and Tom Pasker (Photo by Matt Simonette)

Ms. Yovovich is a co-founder of  Evanston Pride.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic made a conventional celebration impossible this year, Evanston Pride organizers essentially inverted the structure of a parade: A caravan of cars traversed Evanston to see Pride decorations hung by local residents and businesses. 

According to Ms. Yovovich, just over 25 vehicles were taking part: “A lot of those cars have families, whether they are families of origin or chosen families. There’s a lot of smiling here, despite how soggy we all are.”

She said she was moved by the support Evanston has shown both for the Pride event and the Evanston Pride organization itself. 

“It’s very clear that a lot of people in the Evanston community care about this,” she added. “We’re getting a lot of really passionate and enthusiastic reactions—[there’s been] so much gratitude and volunteerism. It’s very clear that a lot of people in the Evanston community really care about this.”

Such support is vital in showing the City’s commitment to both diversity and the rights and safety of its residents, said Mayor Daniel Biss, who was on hand to greet and see off the parade participants. 

Mayor Daniel Biss (Photo by Matt Simonette)

“It’s just wonderful to celebrate the LGBTQ-plus community and the contributions they make to Evanston,” said Mayor Biss. “They make Evanston a more vibrant and wonderful place to be. But notwithstanding the phenomenal progress we’ve made in just a short period of time, it’s still the case that not all the country is safe for LGBTQ-plus people—there’s still elevated levels of violence, especially towards trans women of color. To hold an event like this is a signal to LGBTQ-plus people that Evanston is a safe place, and that we will fight to keep Evanston a safe place.”

Mayor Biss appreciated that the parade centered on LGBTQ youth, a demographic that encounters adversity in numerous realms. Such youth “struggle with the question of whether they will be loved and accepted if they come out, and it’s an important question for people who are looking at this community and trying to decide if they want to live here.”