June is National Gay Pride Month and Chicago is quite possibly the most fun place to be for celebrations. The list of family-focused events that have been added to the roster the last few years has been incredible. Unfortunately, many of these events have been canceled or postponed again for 2021 due to Covid. Bookmark our story and we’ll keep adding events as decisions are made—keep in mind many are potentially rescheduling for later this summer or early fall. Sprinkle on some glitter, proudly raise those rainbow flags and add these fun activities to your family calendar.
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 crowd, Pride Kids & Family Fest features activities and entertainment for even the littlest of guests. Traditionally, the day has included having your world rocked with live music, face painting, arts and crafts and puppet shows for little ones in tow. Jun. 25-27. Event details.
Art on theMART
Art on theMART is saluting Pride Month with special projections, Jun. 17-26. Event details.
Pride Month Celebration at Santori Public Library
Santori Public Library in Aurora welcomes families for a Pride Storytime with Miss Andrea at 6 p.m., followed by Maevis Jazz Trio at 8:30 p.m. Visitors can make a Pride button and view the 2020 Aurora Pride Drive Photo Exhibit from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Jun. 4. Event details.
Pride Month-Themed Breakfast at Stan's Donuts
Stan's Donuts is celebrating June's Pride Month by bringing back their colorfully delicious Pride donuts. The vanilla-rainbow glazed cake donut will be available at all 14 locations in Chicago. All month long. Details.
Paramount School of Arts' Paramount Pride
Paramount School of Arts in Aurora is hosting Paramount Pride with LGBTIA+ artists and vendors, as well as a free Pride WERQ fitness class at 6 p.m. in front of North Island Center (8 E. Galena Blvd.). Jun. 4. Event details.
North Shore Pride Fest
Downtown Highwood is showing support for Pride Month with their annual North Shore Pride Fest. The day's festivities include a Pride Family Picnic with music, an ice cream truck, crafts and bounce house. Sat., Aug. 14. Event details.
"Love is Love" Pop-Up at Luft Balloons
Luft Balloons is hosting a month-long celebration with an immersive pop-up experience at their showroom. The Pride Month-themed experience is perfect for couples, families and friends who want to stop by and snap a photo with "Love is Love," comprised of thousands of multi-colored balloons meant to inspire love, kindness and self-expression.
You can also purchase pride-themed balloon bursts to continue the celebrations at home. Jun. 7-30. Event details.
Chicago Pride Fest
Home to an eclectic mix of arts and crafts, food and other vendors, Pride Fest is typically held one week prior to the annual Pride Parade and is hands down the Midwest’s largest celebration of gay pride. Four stages play host to some of the most fun pop and dance entertainment acts 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. Date TBD, potentially in Aug./Sep. Event details.
Pride in the Park
Pride in the Park invites families to a massive party featuring national headliners. A portion of the ticket sales will benefit Center on Halsted, a vital lifeline to the LGBTQ people of Chicagoland, and the people who love them. Jun. 26 & 27. Event details.
Navy Pier Shows its Pride
Navy Pier’s 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. Jun. 26. Event details.
Take the Legacy Walk
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 its 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 a Book for Parents of Gay Kids" by Dannielle Owens-Redi and Kristin Russo
Have a child who recently came out or is early-on in the stages of questioning their sexuality? First off, congratulations that you've created an environment where your child feels open enough to talk about those feelings. Next up? This book. Written in Q&A format, it's a go-to resource for parents committed to understanding and being the best support possible for their child. The authors share insight on everything from the emotional to the practical topics, peppered with real-life experiences from gay kids and their parents.
If you have more events you’d like added to our list, contact our Chicago Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear about them!