June is national Pride Month and a great time to show your kids that families come in every, shape, size and color of the rainbow. While some events haven’t historically been kid-centric, there are plenty of festivals, parades, walk/runs and concerts that give children the chance to celebrate. Sprinkle on some glitter, grab your rainbow flags and hit up these fab happenings.

andersonville-midsommarfestphoto: Andersonville Midsommarfest / Raney Images

International Family Equality Day
Chicago Children’s Museum is kicking off Pride events in Chicago a little early this year, starting May 7, with probably the most family friendly programming we’ve seen. From noon-4 p.m. Chicago Artists Rick Proper and Leah Ball will be in the art studio working on a collaborative piece with visitors; from 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. guests can enjoy snacks, music, LGBTQ family-focused resources and information, and story time in the Hospitality Suite; and from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. kids can make and take a storybook necklace that represents how they feel about family. Not only that, but starting on May 7 through the end of June, museum goers can help transform a thee-story staircase into a giant rainbow by adding colorful ribbons and write their ideas about family on the “What Makes a Family?” chalk wall. Pretty cool stuff, right?

May 7-end of June
Chicago Children’s Museum
700 E. Grand Ave.
Navy Pier
Cost: $14 museum admission
Online: chicagochildrensmuseum.org

5th Annual North Shore Pride Fest
Downtown Highwood is getting in on the pride month festivities with their 5th annual North Shore Pride Fest. Organizers expanded the festivities to include a full day of family friendly activities with a Pride Family Picnic at Everts Park.


Sat, Jun. 3, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Everts Park
130 Highwood Ave.
Online: celebratehighwood.org

Andersonville Midsommarfest
This outdoor fest is out to show you that things only get better with age, as it’s celebrating its 52nd year. Kick off summer with five stages of live music, ethnic dance troupes, games, food and family entertainment. While not officially billed as a Pride event, Andersonville’s well-established LGBTQ population is recognized in a portion of the festival’s programming.

Fri., Jun. 9 (5-10 p.m.); Sat., Jun. 10 & Sun., Jun. 11 (11 a.m.-10 p.m.)
Clark St., from Foster Ave. to Catalpa Ave.
Cost: $10 suggested donation for adults; free for ages 12 & under
Online: andersonville.org

pride-general photo: Caitlin Childs via flickr

Chicago Pride Fest
Home to an eclectic mix of arts and crafts, food and other vendors, Pride Fest is held one week prior to the annual Pride Parade and is hands down the Midwest’s largest and best celebration of gay pride. Two stages play host to the best pop and dance entertainment of summer, one of which highlights Chicago’s best performers in the LGBTQ community. While the festivities can get rowdy during the evening hours, there’s no shortage of family fun during the day. Exploring more than 60 vendor booths and eating your way down Halsted Street isn’t a bad way to spend a summer weekend in Chicago.

Sat., Jun. 17 & Sun., Jun. 18 (10 a.m.-10 p.m.)
Halsted St. & Waveland Ave.
Cost: $10 suggested donation
Online: chicagopride.gopride.com

pet-parade-pride-festphoto: Pride Fest

Pet Pride Parade at Pride Fest
A fun-filled kid favorite of the Pride Fest is the annual Pet Pride Parade at which all members of the animal kingdom are invited to strut their bedazzled stuff in a festive procession. The furry parade kicks off at 12:30 p.m. with a panel of jurors on hand to honor the best participants with gift certificates from local retailers.

Sun., Jun. 18 at 12:30 p.m.
Begins at the North Stage (Halsted St. & Grace St.)
Cost: Free
Online: chicagopride.gopride.com

laura-doherty-heartbeatsphoto: Laura Doherty and the Heartbeats

Back Lot Baby and Family Day
Since the inaugural event in 2004, Back Lot Bash has become one of the most highly anticipated events in the country geared toward lesbian pride. Although this event that focuses on showcasing local and emergent performers in a festive, inclusive setting hasn’t always been a destination for the diapered crowed, Back Lot Family Fest features activities and entertainment for even the littlest of guests. Traditionally, the day has included face painting, arts and crafts and puppet shows for little ones in tow. Stay to have your world musically rocked by local talent. As of press time, the lineup of events wasn’t published, but keep checking their website for details.

Now two weekends! Jun. 16 & Jun. 23-25
Behind Cheetah Gym
5238 N. Clark St.
Cost: $5; kids under 2 are free
Online: backlotbashchicago.com

Proud to Run
Show your support by participating in this 10K and 5K lakefront run/walk focused on celebrating pride and raising funds to support the LGBTQ community. Post-race entertainment is on-hand to keep the mood light and is so fun you’ll forget you’re exercising. Participants will receive a tech shirt, participation medal and pride-themed tote.

Sat., Jun. 24, 10K starts at 8:04 a.m., 5K starts at 8:14 a.m.
Montrose Ave. & Simonds Dr., just north of Montrose Harbor
Online: proudtorun.org

pride-paradephoto: Pride Parade via Richie D on Yelp

Pride Parade
Chicago’s Pride Parade got its start as a march in 1970 and is now hailed as one of the most iconic pride events, attracting people of all gender, color and sexuality. The bright colors, performance groups, floats and parade entrants — including many Chicago schools — easily attract and hold a child’s attention. This high-energy event may be outside the comfort zone of some parents because of the costumes (or lack of, in some cases) and the boisterous atmosphere, but kids love parades and this is one they won’t soon forget.

Sun., Jun. 25, noon-3 p.m.
Starts at Broadway St. & Montrose Ave. and ends at Sheridan Dr. & Diversey Ave.
Cost: Free
Online: chicago.gopride.com

block-partyphoto: Lakeview Lutheran Church

Pride Block Party after the Parade
This block party is a great low-key option for kids to experience the Pride Parade without being in the center of the hoopla. The church provides family-friendly games and crafts activities. Food and beverages are available to purchase.

Sun., Jun. 25, noon-6:30 p.m.
Lakeview Lutheran Church
835 W. Addison St.
Cost: Free
Online: lakeviewlutheran.com

photo: 360 Chicago Observation Deck

360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
To celebrate Pride Month, 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck will offer a rainbow of colorful cocktails available for $12 each at the Architects Corner Café & Bar through the end of June. Six specialty cocktails will represent every color of the rainbow symbolizing the LGBT community which each have meaning: life (red), healing (orange), sunlight (yellow), nature (green), harmony (blue) and spirit (purple/violet). Proceeds from the sale of the Pride Cocktails will benefit Howard Brown Health. Those donating will receive a rainbow ribbon to either keep or decorate the National Pride Month trees on display adorning the educational exhibit offered on the 94th floor Observation Deck site.

Jun. 1- Jun. 30
John Hancock
875 N. Michigan Ave., 94th Fl.
Mag Mile
Online: 360chicago.com

Take the Legacy Walk any time of year
If you’ve visited the area of Lakeview commonly referred to as Boystown, you’ve more than likely seen the now iconic rainbow pylons that line N. Halsted Street. What you may not know is those are actually part of the world’s only outdoor museum walk and youth education program dedicated to combating anti-gay bullying by celebrating contributions made by LGBT persons in history, The Legacy Project. The Legacy Project was inspired by the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, a 54-ton quilt that celebrates the lives of people who died from AIDS-related causes, when it was displayed at the National March on Washington in 1987. You can take your family on a self-guided tour, reading plaques that give history on important contributors to our nation’s history who were a part of the LGBT community, or you can schedule an educational guided tour.

3245 to 3707 N. Halsted St
Online: legacyprojectchicago.org


A Little Something for the Book Worms
In addition to pride parades and street fests there are other ways to open the age-appropriate lines of communication with your children about the LGBTQ community — and acceptance of all people, regardless of gender, race, religion and sexuality differences. We recommend browsing Women and Children First (5233 N. Clark St.) and Unabridged (3251 N. Broadway St.) for books dedicated to diversity and acceptance. These reads are a great place to start.

“A Tale of Two Mommies” and “A Tale of Two Daddies” by Vanita Oelschlager
Both of these stories are great reads for ages 4-8 and allow us a peek inside the conversation between kids who are curious about one friend’s two mommies and another’s two daddies. They’re both perfect for introducing kids to same-sex families that are becoming increasingly more common to see in society.

“This Day in June” by Gayle E. Pitman
Show your kids the beauty of the pride parade without ever leaving your house. This picture book perfectly captures the diversity, exuberance and, well, pride on display and provides a solid springboard into a meaningful conversation. As a bonus, this book includes a reading guide chock full of facts about LGBTQ history and culture.

“And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Based on a true story of two male chinstrap penguins, Roy and Silo, who shared a nest in New York’s Central Park Zoo. After trying to care for and hatch an egg-shaped rock, the pair was given a fertilized egg in need of nurturing that became the beautiful penguin known as Tango.

“The Great Big Book of Families” by Mary Hoffman
Showcases many different types of families with 2-page spreads depicting facets of home life – from homes and holiday celebrations, to schools and pets, to emotions and family trees.

“Welcome to the Family” by Mary Hoffman
Explores one element of it’s prequel, “The Great Big Book of Families”, which is the arrival of new members into a family. Written with a humorous tone, you’ll have an opportunity to light-heartedly explore all different ways a baby or child can become a member of a family — natural birth within a nuclear family, adoption, fostering and same sex families — while sending the message that all families are special and equal.

“The Family Book” by Todd Parr
Children are introduced to an array of families through whimsical, colorful illustrations.  Pages are full of silly examples of differences (i.e.: some families like to be messy, some like to be clean), plus serious topics like adoption, same-sex relationships and single parenting.

“It’s Okay to Be Different” by Todd Parr
Similar to the “The Family Book,” Parr reinforces the need for acceptance of individuality through repetition and fun and colorful drawings. He mixes big ideas (“It’s okay to have different dads”) with random silliness (“It’s okay to eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub”).

“King and King” by Linda de Haan
In this fairytale, a prince must find a mate to help rule the kingdom so the Queen can retire. While being introduced to a series of princesses, the prince meets a suitor’s brother and it’s love at first sight. Collage-style illustrations are bright, colorful and altogether engaging.

“10,000 Dresses” by Marcus Ewert
Bailey loves dresses in all the colors of the rainbow. Dresses that sparkle, that shine, that twirl. His parents, however, are in his ear to remind him that he’s a boy and boys don’t wear dresses. In comes Laurel, a friend that shows him that it’s okay to be whoever he wants to be. This is an inspiring friendship story that any kid can relate to — but especially those who refuse to conform.

This is just a small sampling of conversation starters, more options provided by the Chicago Children’s Museum can be found here.

How will you celebrate Pride Month? Let us know in the Comments!

—Maria Chambers