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Community celebrates Pride Fest

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Community members march in Champaign-Urbana’s eighth annual Pride Fest.

Community members march in Champaign-Urbana’s eighth annual Pride Fest.

Patrick Li

Patrick Li

Community members march in Champaign-Urbana’s eighth annual Pride Fest.

By Gillian Dunlop, Assistant news editor

Champaign-Urbana community members celebrated the eighth annual Pride Fest this past weekend in  downtown Champaign.

Pride Fest is hosted by the Uniting Pride (UP) Center which is the only LGBTQ resource center in Champaign County.

Events began Sept. 15 with an official kickoff that featured RuPaul drag queen, Jade Sotomayor.

One of the featured events of the weekend included a parade on Sept. 16 at 4 p.m. It included political organizations, campus groups and other performers. Most of them were decked out in rainbow attire.

“I love it,” Sean Sheehan, freshman in FAA, said. “This is my first pride and I just have to say, seeing everyone’s support of what we’re fighting for is awesome.”

The parade crowd consisted of families, students and community members of all ages.

“The energy is amazing,” Madelyn Vogel, freshman in FAA, said.

New this year was a teen event that was held on Sept. 16. It took place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Illinois Terminal’s City View Ballroom and was open to all teens ages 13-17, according to the website. The event had a drag show, pizza, hair braiding and makeup tips. All attendees were required to have a signed parental consent form.

The office Pride Fest party, however, was on Sept. 16 at 51 Main in downtown Champaign. It featured performances by Illini Student Musicals as well as drag queens, including Rochelle Delight.

For some, Pride Fest is not only an opportunity to celebrate the LGBTQ community but also inspires bravery.

“It’s my first pride and I haven’t had the courage to come out of the closet to my parents,” a freshman in FAA said. “But being here gives me so much pride and makes me so happy.”

Some students that attended are from the LGBTQ organization, Q, that resides in the student residence hall, Allen Hall.

Bennett Smith, freshman in FAA, said that he and his friends came to the parade as a way to represent Q and to spread love.

Pride Fest also tried to appeal to the children in the community by having several bounce houses available for them to play in, as well as a petting zoo located in the family area.

Events for Pride Fest concluded on Sept. 17 with a Drag Brunch, which featured six drag queens. All 150 tickets were sold prior to the brunch.

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