DeKALB – Just because DeKalb County doesn't have a Pride Parade doesn't mean organizations don't want to celebrate their neighbors who are out and proud.
That's just what staff from Safe Passage, Inc., had in mind Monday when they organized what will be the first Pride Party June 29 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 1915 N. First St., in DeKalb. The party is free and open to the public. June is National Pride Month, which culminates in Gay Pride Day, usually the last Sunday of the month.
Historically, the month marks the anniversary of the June 1969 Stonewall riots, during which people who self-identified as gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual, transgender, etc., protested a police raid of the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan. The month is now heralded as a time to celebrate people regardless of gender or sexual orientation who have been historically persecuted.
The family-friendly event will feature bounce houses, tie-dyeing, snacks like popcorn, lawn games and booths from area advocacy organizations and nonprofits who will be on hand to share resources.
Lynnea Erickson Laskowski, communications and prevention services director for Safe Passage, said her team participated in Aurora's Pride events earlier this month and wanted to continue the party back home.
"Some of our staff were talking, and it's just very clear that this is a really important topic for our agency," Erickson Laskowski said Wednesday. "We support the LGBTQIA-plus community and Pride Month. Everyone deserves to be in a healthy relationship."
She said Safe Passage is organizing the Pride Party in conjunction with the Lutheran Church and other area organizations.
"It will be a fun outdoor, picnic-style event," she said. "Very family friendly, very low key, just a time to get together and recognize and celebrate our LGBTQIA-plus community."
Erickson Laskowksi said since the event is in its first year, she hopes more awareness and interest will be raised in coming years to expand into a pride parade or festival.
"Our hope is that someone else will take this and run with it in the future," she said. "We'd like to see it be more, but in the meantime we want to make sure we're doing something."