June is National Gay Pride Month and the celebrations kicked off with Chicago Children Museum’s International Family Equality Day programming on May 5. This headstart gives you even more opportunities 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, proudly raise your rainbow flags and hit up these fab happenings from now until the end of June.

photo: Chicago Children’s Museum courtesy of Rachel Stauss

Pride Programming at Chicago Children’s Museum
Kicking off at Chicago Children’s Museum’s International Family Equality Day on May 5, help transform the central staircase into a giant rainbow by adding colorful ribbons and write your thoughts about family on the huge “What Makes a Family” chalkboard. Sun., May 5-Sun., Jun. 30. Event details

7th Annual North Shore Pride Fest
Downtown Highwood is showing support for Pride Month with their 7th annual North Shore Pride Fest. The day’s festivities include a Pride Family Picnic at Everts Park with music, an ice cream truck, crafts and bounce house. Later in the day, an all-ages Drag Show kicks off an adults-only Taste of the Rainbow Pub Crawl, with each location serving mixed drinks inspired by every color of the rainbow. Sat., Jun. 1. Event details

Young at Heart Queer Film Festival
The Chicago Park District invites teens to celebrate Gay Pride Month in the Park with a Young at Heart Film Festival. This free Thursday evening series features the following movies: Saturday Church, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, and Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything. Sat., Jun. 6, 20 & 27. Event details

andersonville-midsommarfestphoto: Andersonville Midsommarfest courtesy of Raney Images

Andersonville Midsommarfest
This outdoor fest is out to show you that things only get better with age, as it’s celebrating its 54th year. The Andersonville ‘hood kicks off summer with a flurry of live music, games, food and family entertainment on its main drag, Clark Street. Be ready for live music, performances by ethnic dance troupes, arts and crafts, face painters, games and eats from local restaurants. While not officially billed as a Pride event, Andersonville’s well-established LGBTQ population is celebrated in a portion of the festival’s programming. Sat., Jun. 7 & Sun., Jun. 8. Event details.

Pride Month at 360 Chicago
The entire month of June is dedicated to Pride Month at 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. Take the family for stellar 360-degree views of our city and a thrilling ride on the TILT. Funds raised at donation stations, plus a portion of sales will be donated from the specialty drink Over The Rainbow (for adults!) to the Howard Brown Health Center. Month of June. Event details.

Shedd Aquarium Pride Eventphoto: Shedd Aquarium

Pride Night at Shedd Aquarium
Shedd Aquarium celebrates the diversity of the natural world and of our city! During this LGBTQ community night, connect with animals and savor the Chicago skyline. Dance to the music and sway to the rhythm of the ocean. Discover a living rainbow at Shedd’s special exhibit, Underwater Beauty. And grab a cocktail and dive in! Fri., Jun. 14. Event details

Family Pride Night at The Morton Arboretum
Morton Arboretum is hosting a Family Pride Night with featured performer Todd Downing and his Choose Kindness performance. Families are built on love and The Morton Arboretum welcomes them all. Join in for a memorable evening of outdoor games, crafts, music and more to celebrate the importance of all families. Thurs., Jun. 20. Event details.

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 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. Introduce your kids to the tunes of Leann Rimes, explore more than 100 arts & crafts and vendor booths and eat your way down Halsted Street. Sat., Jun. 22 & Sun., Jun. 23. Event details.

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, where all members of the animal kingdom are invited to strut their bedazzled stuff in a festive procession. The furry parade kicks off at noon, with a panel of jurors on hand to honor the best participants with gift certificates from local retailers. Sun., Jun. 23. Event details.

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 at Shapiro Ballroom. 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., May 19 & Sun., Jun. 23. Event details.

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. As of press time, the lineup of events wasn’t published, but keep checking their website for details. Fri., Jun. 28-Sun., Jun. 30. Event details.

photo: Lighthouse LGBTQ Pride Party courtesy of Thomas Photographic Services

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 3rd 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. Fri., Jun. 28. Event details

Proud to Run
Show your Pride support by participating in this lakefront 5K, 10K and half-marathon 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. Sat., Jun. 29. Event details.

Navy Pier Shows its Pride
Navy Pier’s 3rd 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. 29. Event details

Inaugural Pride in the Park
Held the day before the annual Pride Parade, Pride in the Park invites families to a massive party featuring national headliners like Iggy Azalea and Steve Aoki. A portion of the ticket sales will benefit Center on Halsted, a vital lifeline to the LGBTQ community of Chicagoland, and the people who love them. Sat., Jun. 29. Event details.

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 2019 theme is Millions of Moments of Pride and its bright colors, performance groups, floats and parade entrants—including many Chicago schools—will 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. 30. Event details

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. 30. Event details

Queering the Parks BBQ
As part of The Chicago Park District’s Pride Month programming, they invite families to an all-ages Queering the Parks BBQ. This is a free event presented in collaboration with the Chicago-based, queer artist duo and production company TRQPITECA. Sun., Jun. 30. 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.

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

—Maria Chambers


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