“True success is the eradication of hate from people who are different than you,” said Todd Davies, a member of EQuality Downers Grove and owner of Cadence Kitchen & Co. and The Foxtail.
EQDG is a community organization aiming to create an accepting environment for the LGBTQ+ community through education, and this year, the group is putting together several campaigns for June, which is Pride month. The goal, Davies said, is to promote conversation and a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community.
EQDG came to life four years ago, and has been planning this year’s pride events since February, said Beck Campbell, a member of EQDG. At the time, the group did not know what to expect in terms of support, Campbell said, and while reception has been positive, members still aren’t sure what turnout for the first year will look like.
EQDG has partnered with a number of local businesses to provide Pride Picnics To Go and has partnered with artists who will paint 15 window displays throughout the community. The window displays will be up through the end of June. Cadence Kitchen, The Foxtail and Pierce Tavern will participate in the picnic baskets, which will be available each weekend in June.
A portion of proceeds from these campaigns will be donated to Youth Outlook, the first Illinois service agency dedicated solely to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, according to a news release.
“Our biggest challenge will be how many people will come out,” said Mary Blanchard, a Downers Grove resident and member of EQDG. “We have a lot of businesses on board, so now we have to see how the community comes through to show support.”
At the group’s first meeting in February, Campbell said 50 or so people attended, an indication that the community is ready to be more open about LGBTQ+ conversations. She said the group is riding that interest and is grateful for the support it has received thus far.
For Davies, supporting the group was a no-brainer, he said, so when brainstorming for Pride began, he was happy to toss in the idea of Pride Picnic baskets. Each basket will be accompanied by reading materials on how to create a safe space and start a conversation within families, he said.
“If even just one family sits down and says, ‘It’s OK to be you’ to their child, that’s success for me,” Davies said. “It just bothers me that this is even a conversation – that someone can be so self-righteous to tell someone else who to be and how to love.”
Davies said he has seen friends during his career struggle because they are part of the LGBTQ+ community and that his goal is to spread kindness and awareness. Blanchard said EQDG hopes all individuals in the LGBTQ+ community feel supported in Downers Grove and by the organization, whether they are young or old.
Some of the artists painting window displays, Blanchard said, are in middle school, and some are older artists. She said the idea for the window displays came from a similar campaign in Wheaton.
“When we started this, we wanted to make sure the adult community felt welcome as well,” Blanchard said. “There are a lot of stressors for the LGBTQ+ community, so we want the adults and the youth of Downers Grove to know we’ve got their backs.”
In addition to these efforts, other local businesses will be providing Pride items such as Louisa’s & Millie’s Chocolates, which is offering a Pride Oreo set and donating a portion of sales to Youth Outlook.