CHICAGO — Kids can paint their faces like drag queens, learn moves from a house music choreographer and then join an all-ages dance party this June at a new, LGBTQ family-friendly Pride festival.
The Queer Fam Pride Jam is 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 17 on the fairgrounds of the Salt Shed, 1357 N. Elston Ave.
This free event, co-sponsored by Block Club, is a collaboration between the queer party producers of Slo ‘Mo and the owners of Kido, an award-winning kids boutique in the South Loop.
“This is about making a space for as many people as possible to celebrate queer pride,” said Kristen Kaza, founder and “Party Mom” of Slo ‘Mo. “This is an event centering queer people, families and children, but it’s also sending a message that this is for all families.”
Part of the fairgrounds will be a vendor market featuring local foods and artisans, Kaza said. Priority will be given to LGBTQ and Black, Indigenous and people of color makers.
The festival’s programs include wellness activities facilitated by LGBTQ artists and healers, including family yoga and fan decorating, Kaza said. Day-long activities include fan decorating, drag dress-up and makeovers.
Natty Bwoy Bikes & Boards, a local skateboarding school, will facilitate a skating area, and legendary house music choreographer Boogie McClarin will teach dance lessons, Kaza said.
Everything will culminate in an all-ages, Slo ‘Mo dance party, amplified by the sound system and production value offered by the Salt Shed, Kaza said.
“The dance party will put all of these components together,” said Kido owner Keewa Nurullah. “They’ll have learned the dances, they’ll have the drag artwork on their face and they’ll have had this entire day of fun to celebrate.”
Holding events is a cornerstone to Kido’s success, Nurullah said. The store has organized an abortion rights march as well as gatherings celebrating specific culture and communities, but this is Kido’s first time throwing a Pride celebration on this scale.
Slo ‘Mo formed in 2011 and throws queer-centric events featuring and employing mostly women and gender-expansive, LGBTQ and people of color artists, vendors and small businesses, Kaza said.
Many of Slo ‘Mo’s partygoers have been attending events for at least a decade, so they’re now in their 30s and 40s and some are starting or raising families of their own, Kaza said.
Kaza, who had twins last summer, said the Pride Jam is part of Slo ‘Mo’s efforts to introduce more daytime and family-friendly events to support this core audience.
“People would often tell me they wish they could bring their kids to Slo ‘Mo because it’s fun and would be a great place to be with their families,” Kaza said. “And now that I’m a parent, I also want to be able to have a good time and connect with other people and families. We deserve variety and daytime bops, too.”
Creating a gathering place for families with LGBTQ members to exist and celebrate in broad daylight has benefits for children, too, Nurullah said. Queer children can connect with other LGBTQ-identifying people and see possibilities or be exposed to their future life goals.
Allies play a role in this event, too, Nurullah said.
“This is for queer parents, queer children and strong allies,” Nurullah said. “Let’s party and have fun while celebrating the differences and dynamic individuals in our community in broad daylight. It’s going to be powerful.”
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