DeKALB – ”Love is love,” read many of the signs hoisted in the air Thursday for the second annual Pride march in DeKalb.
The free event – put on by the Egyptian Theatre, Safe Passage, Sycamore Library, Queer-Oriented Rural Resource Network, Grace Place, Hometown Sports Bar & Grill, Youth Outlook, 94.9 WDKB and S.O.A.S. – was attended by dozens.
Jeanine Holcomb, marketing and communications director for the Egyptian Theatre, said the turnout for the event speaks volumes to the community’s willingness to accept the LGBTQIA+ community.
“We’ve seen already with the start of this event that people are coming back and they want to have pride here,” Holcomb said.
The march started downtown at the Egyptian Theatre along Second Street before turning down Locust and First streets and heading back to the theatre.
Kelsey Graham of Sycamore was among dozens prepared to hit the streets of downtown DeKalb. She wore a cape to showcase pride for the LGBTQIA+ community. Graham said the community’s show of support for people who identify as LGBTQIA+ was strong.
“It’s a nice surprise,” Graham said. “Everything’s so quiet around here that you kind of forget just how many people are here. So, it’s always a nice surprise.”
Mack Patrick, pastor at Grace Place Campus Ministry at Northern Illinois University, said he was motivated to show up to the Pride march especially as a faith leader.
“As a trans pastor, it is so important for churches to show up and truly be an inclusive space for everyone, no matter what,” Patrick said. “To be here shows that there are spaces in DeKalb and the Sycamore area that are radically increasing and welcoming and focused on love.”
Gretchen Sprinkle and her five-year-old son, Jack, were excited to come out to the event. Sprinkle said that as an ally, she hoped her son would learn a bit about the struggles of oppressed people in an age-appropriate way.
“He sees heterosexual relationships all the time,” Sprinkle said. “This is no different. This is more about showing him how to support people in our community that might not feel supported.”
Trinity Alexander of DeKalb said his favorite part of the event is seeing how it enables him to see how far the community has come with accepting people who identify as LGBTQIA+.
“As much work as the community needs to do, I think that it’s beautiful to see how many young LGBT ... kids are here or even just allies are here, so they can learn more,” Alexander said. “They can see other queer people in the community. When you think of DeKalb, you don’t think of queer. You don’t. It’s corn fields and straight, unfortunately. So, having this event where there are Black and brown people and all different kinds of queer people is really important.”
The event also featured a showing of the film “Tangerine” followed by some discussion.
Holcomb said it’s important that the event builds on its success year after year.
“We want each Pride to evolve,” Holcomb said. “We want each year to grow bigger and better.”
An earlier version of this story included a misquote of a word in Trinity Alexander’s quote, which should say, “When you think of DeKalb, you don’t think of queer.” The story has been updated as of 9:30 a.m. June 24, 2022.