Pride Party-goers find fun at end of the rainbow

Photos by Mary Compton/H-F Chronicle

The second annual Lighthouse Pride Party saw a packed crowd — and lots of rainbows — around the Flossmoor Community House on June 22.

With food trucks, pop music and adult beverages, the jovial event had a block-party feel. Families flocked to the party, with babies in rainbow leis, toddlers in pink tutus and teens dashing back and forth with friends.
 
Cousins Liza Danno, of Channahon, and Beth Eagan, of Chicago Heights, heard about the event on Facebook and decided to come out to show support for the LGBTQ community. Danno wore a rainbow shirt that said Proud Mom in honor of her daughter, who lives in Florida. 
 
“I came out to support my daughter, who is gay,” Danno said. “The more people who come out to show support for the gay community, hopefully the less criticism they’ll face and the more support and respect they’ll be given.”
 
Eagan said she thinks it’s especially important to support teens who are gay, so they can build self confidence for the future. 
 
“Any teen who hears their parents tell them, ‘No matter what, I support you,’ they’re going to do better mentally when they grow up and become an adult,” Eagan said.
 
The event was organized by Lighthouse LGBTQ, an organization that was formed by local residents in 2016 to be a source of support for those in the Homewood-Flossmoor and surrounding communities who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning/queer.
 
Many local individuals, organizations and businesses supported the Pride Party, including Flossmoor Community Church, John Flynn of Baird & Warner, Red Bird Cafe, which provided coffee and mini cupcakes, and Homewood Florist, which provided floral bouquets and long-stem rainbow-dyed roses.
 
Flossmoor resident Emily Quirke and her 3-year-old daughter, Kate Boyko, were enjoying the outdoor festival, although the weather was unusually chilly for a June evening.
 
“It’s cool to be outside and not hiding away inside somewhere,” said Quirke, who visited the party last year, too. “I also love that it’s a family event. You don’t have to be gay to come to the Pride Party. You’re just out here to celebrate people in your life and show support.”
 
Quirke said she definitely planned to check out the food trucks staged at the event, selling hot dogs and tacos. Attendees could also enjoy a piece of rainbow cake, design a pride poster or get their hair glammed out with colored sprays and rhinestones.
 
Members of the Homewood-Flossmoor chapter of League of Women Voters were on hand, inviting attendees to register to vote, especially if they were 17 and would be eligible to vote in the November election. 
 
A fairly new Flossmoor resident, Doug Litts was attending the Pride Festival for the first time with his partner of 17 years, Reign Kennedy. The two moved to Flossmoor from Washington D.C. three years ago when Litts took his job as director of the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicago.
 
“We love Flossmoor,” Litts said. “We like the small town feel and I love that the train drops me off right across from work.” 
 
Friends invited them to Pride Party, where Litts said they were having fun talking to neighbors they already knew and meeting new people, too. Many party-goers echoed the same sentiment — Pride Party was a good excuse to have some fun with neighbors and celebrate inclusiveness.
 
“It’s just great to see the community come out in support of one another,” Litts said.

Lighthouse co-founder Stephanie Wright said between 500 and 600 persons attended the party.
 
Event sponsors included Flossmoor Community Church, Panda Baby Cookies, John Flynn of Baird and Warner, Tito’s Vodka, Blue Island Beer Company, Flower Child, Vicki Stevenson of HF Homes/Coldwell Banker, LouLou Belle, Homewood Florist and Be Well Studio.
 
Also: Birth With Christine, Stress and Anxiety Center, Downtown Flossmoor Business Association, Redbird Café, UpsaDaisy Boutique, Arbor Eyecare, A Piece of the Pie, Goddess and the Baker, The Wexler Group of Keller Williams and The Hart Wellness Center.
 

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