A procession of more than 30 cars drove through the city Sunday afternoon for the second annual Evanston Pride Youth Car Parade. Credit: Debbie-Marie Brown

Evanston Pride directed a procession of more than 30 decked-out cars through the city Sunday afternoon for the second annual Evanston Pride Youth Car Parade.

Jackson Adams, Evanston resident and President of Evanston Pride, told the RoundTable that many onlookers were pleasantly surprised and smiled, waved or honked their horns at the cars. Some confused drivers, though, saw the procession and pulled over to the side of the road.

“They probably saw the flashing lights and thought [there was an emergency]. I thought it was cool that people pulled over,” Adams said. “It’s about time, right? … I was like, it’s the queen’s jubilee in London, and it’s the queen’s jubilee here as well.”

The event featured many different families participating, beginning at Evanston Township High School and ending with a celebration at Ingraham Park behind the Morton Civic Center.

One participant said that some older onlookers blew kisses at the procession and another person put an assortment of rainbow balloons on her lawn.

Evanston Pride was established in November 2020, and is currently made up of seven adults. The Pride Youth Car Parade is the organization’s main event.

Last September, the group threw a “Queer Mercado” for Hispanic Heritage Month and invited an all-female mariachi band to perform. The group also hosted an LGBTQ summit at ETHS.

“There is a sense of community here,” Adams said. “Our queer population is growing.”

Adams said that the car parade is meant to be a fun reason to get together and celebrate, and also to give the kids a chance to connect.

“We want all the kids to feel included, to feel loved to be seen,” Adams said.

Local family attends together

Brianna Prado, 20, from Gurnee, attended the event with her best friend, her mom, her dad and her 11-year-old sister, Ivlen. The multigenerational family sat together, smiling, in Ingraham Park on a blanket decorated with pride paraphernalia.

“I’m gay. I’m married to a woman since 2020,” Prado said. “My mom, this is her first time coming to a Pride event.”

Brianna’s mom, Katcie, said participating in the parade was a milestone for her, as she “never in my life would have thought that I would have been part of this. My daughter came out a couple of years ago. I just wasn’t accepting of it … I’m not proud of it,” Katcie said. “But now I’m super, super accepting. And we all love her.”

Katcie told her daughter Brianna, “I made it very horrible for you.”

“Yeah, but we’re here now,” Brianna responded. “And it’s better late than never. Honestly, there’s a sign that said, like, ‘We’re listening and learning.’ … And [my mom] grabbed one of those signs. She’s like, this is what we need to put in front of her house because that’s how everybody should be.”

The Gurnee family was personally invited to the Pride procession after attending the Umbrella Arts festival in Evanston a few weeks ago. The family’s youngest daughter, Ivlen, held a poster that read, “proud to say the word gay,” and Evanston Pride organizers invited the family to the procession.

“She teaches us how to be more open-minded about this,” said dad Carlos of their youngest daughter. “I had some work that I had to do.”

Ivlen smiled widely. “I’m very proud of it,” she said. “I’ll tell everybody, ‘Yeah, my sister’s gay.’ And, yeah, she’s married, and I’m happy.”

Ivlen De Leon 11, attended the second annual Evanston Pride Youth Car Parade with her family. Credit: Debbie-Marie Brown

Debbie-Marie Brown

Debbie-Marie Brown is a reporter and Racial Justice Fellow at the Evanston RoundTable. They cover the local reparations initiative, Black life in Evanston, and the 5th ward. Contact Debbie-Marie at dmb@evanstonroundtable.com...

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