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Thursday, April 21, 2011 07:43 pm

GAY PRIDE FESTIVAL A FIRST

Springfield’s LGBTQ community is pleased that, as of June 1, same-sex civil unions will be available to Illinoisans, but Springfield’s first Gay Pride Festival planned to take place downtown just 10 days earlier is merely a coincidence, says Jonna Cooley.

Cooley is executive director of the Phoenix Center, Springfield’s 10-year-old LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning) community center. She says a committee started planning the event before lawmakers even considered civil union legislation.

“There’s really no reason, it just seemed like this year was the time,” Cooley says for the timing of the event, to be held May 22, the birth date of assassinated gay rights activist Harvey Milk. “The pride event is for people to celebrate who they are, to come out and have a fun day. It’s for everybody.”

The free festival will take place on Capitol Avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets from noon until 6 p.m. With 25 booths, those in attendance can buy art, jewelry, food and drinks and learn about several social service organizations. A children’s area and live entertainment will be featured as well.

Though organizers are no longer looking for vendors, they are looking for sponsors and encouraging all to attend the event. For more information, call 528-5253 or visit www.springfieldpride.org
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