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 Pride events haven’t historically been kid-centric, there are plenty of festivals, parades, walk/runs and concerts that give children the chance to celebrate or perhaps an environment to relate. Sprinkle on some glitter, grab your rainbow flags and hit up these fab happenings.

photo: courtesy of Paul Barnes

Pride Programming at Chicago Children’s Museum
Through the end of June, help transform the central staircase into a giant rainbow by adding colorful ribbons and write your ideas about family on the huge “What Makes a Family” chalkboard.

Now through the end of June
Chicago Children’s Museum
700 E. Grand Ave., Navy Pier
Cost: $14.95 museum admission
Online: chicagochildrensmuseum.org

6th Annual North Shore Pride Fest
Downtown Highwood is getting in on the pride month festivities with their 6th annual North Shore Pride Fest. Organizers expanded the festivities to include a full day of activities with a Pride Family Picnic at Everts Park and an all-ages Drag Show at 210 Live Restaurant & Lounge.

Sat, Jun. 2; Picnic noon-2 p.m., Drag Show 5 p.m.
Everts Park & 210 Live Restaurant & Lounge
130 Highwood Ave. & 210 Green Bay Rd., Highwood
Online: celebratehighwood.org

andersonville-midsommarfestphoto: Andersonville Midsommarfest / Raney Images

Andersonville Midsommarfest
This outdoor fest is out to show you that things only get better with age, as it’s celebrating its 53rd 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. 8, 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sat., Jun. 9 & Sun., Jun. 10, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Clark St., from Foster Ave. to Catalpa Ave., Andersonville
Cost: $10 suggested donation for adults; free for ages 12 & under
Online: andersonville.org

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. 16 & Sun., Jun. 17;  11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Halsted St. & Waveland Ave., Lakeview
Cost: $10 suggested donation
Online: chicagopride.gopride.com

photo: courtesy of nathanmac87 via flickr

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. 17; 12:30 p.m.
Begins at the North Stage (Halsted St. & Grace St.), Lakeview
Cost: Free
Online: chicagopride.gopride.com

Storytime with Drag Queens
Make storytime lots of fun with Muffy Fishbasket and her Good Time Gals, reading some of their favorite children’s stories. Featured books will be available to purchase from the onsite Women and Children First and proceeds from the event support promoting education in schools for LGBTQIA+ youth.

Sun., Jun. 17; 11 a.m.
Shapiro Ballroom
1612 W. Chicago Ave., Ukranian Village
Cost: $10/family suggested donation
Online: muffyfishbasket.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.

Fri., Jun. 22-Sun., Jun. 24; Family Fest Sat., Jun. 23, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Behind Cheetah Gym
5238 N. Clark St., Andersonville
Cost: $5; kids under 2 are free
Online: backlotbashchicago.com

Pride Party in the South Suburbs
Billed as the first pride party in the south suburbs, Lighthouse LGBTQ+, a mom-launched non-profit dedicated to helping members of the LGBTQ+ community and their families in their unique coming out journey, is back for their second annual Pride Party. All members and friends of the LGBTQ community, no matter the age, are welcome to stop by for food, cold bevvies, a poster-making station and an evening of inclusive fun.


Jun. 22, 5 p.m.-9 p.m.
Flossmoor Community House
2218 Hutchison Rd., Flossmoor
Online: lighthouselgbtq.org

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. 23, 10K starts at 8:04 a.m., 5K starts at 8:24 a.m.
Montrose Ave. & Simonds Dr., just north of Montrose Harbor
Online: proudtorun.org

Navy Pier Shows its Pride
Navy Pier’s 3nd Annual Navy Pier Pride is set to return with a full day of Pride activities along the lakefront. Free and open to the public, this family-friendly event is the largest Pride celebration in Chicago outside of the Lakeview neighborhood.

Sat., Jun. 23; noon-8 p.m.
Navy Pier
600 E. Grand Ave., Streeterville
Online: navypier.org

photo: courtesy of C Robertson via flickr

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 celebration 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. 24, noon
Starts at Broadway St. & Montrose Ave. and ends at Sheridan Dr. & Diversey Ave., Lakeview
Cost: Free
Online: chicago.gopride.com

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 craft activities and food and beverages are available to purchase.

Sun., Jun. 24, noon
Lakeview Lutheran Church
835 W. Addison St., Lakeview
Cost: Free
Online: lakeviewlutheran.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, Lakeview
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.

“PRIDE: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag” by Rob Sanders
Just in time for the 40th anniversary of the Rainbow Pride Flag comes a picture book that tells the empowering true story about how the flag came to be. From its start in 1978 with social activist Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker to its role spanning the globe today, you’ll hear a story of love, hope, equality and, of course, pride.

“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

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