Drag queen Dymond C. Calloway performs at the Pride event in Constitution Court on Friday June 23, 2023 | Todd Bannor

A large crowd, many clad in “Pride is Love Forest Park” T-shirts, gathered at Forest Park’s Constitution Court on Madison Street the evening of June 23 to watch the centerpiece of the village’s second annual Pride celebration. 

The event featured 8 drag performers, including returning performers Angel LeBare, Britney Taylor and Fox E. Kim. Keri Traid, Akasha Voyer, Mariela Duarte, Moana Lotte and Dymond C. Calloway made their Forest Park Pride debut this year. 

As happened last year, the drag queens walked to several Madison Street businesses beforehand, chatting with customers and posing for pictures. This year’s participants included Brown Cow, Twisted Cookie, Fiore, Team Blonde, Play it Again Sports, MacDaddy Salon, Schauer’s Hardware, NOLA Louisiana Kitchen and Kribi Coffee Air Roastery. 

PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), OPALGA+ (Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association), the Howard Brown Health Center and Energy Tees custom apparel company set up tables at Constitution Court. 

“This is perfect for us [as a business],” said Energy Tees owner Eric Priceman. “Why wouldn’t we be here? We’re part of this village.”

Mayor Rory Hoskins, village commissioners Maria Maxham and Michelle Melin-Rogovin, Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz and several members of the Forest Park School District 91 Board of Education attended the drag show.

“We’re a very progressive community, and we have a very equitable school board, and we value openness and inclusion,” Hoskins said. 

Forest Park Mayor Rory Hoskins speaks before the Pride event in Constitution Court on Friday June 23, 2023 | Todd Bannor

Erich Krumrei, owner of Play it Again Sports, organized the Forest Park Pride Celebration. In his speech before the show, he touched on the challenges the LGBT community, especially the trans community, continues to face.

“Unfortunately, there is still a lot of hate out there,” he said. “I talked to some businesses [about taking part in the celebration] and I got an earful from them. And, you know – it’s their option.”

Krumrei urged the attendees to celebrate, but also to show support.

“It’ s not about me,” he said. “It’s about supporting the trans community and supporting the LGBT community. We need your support, because we’re in a tough, everyday battle, and it’s become very politicized, unfortunately.”

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Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Growing Community Media newspapers in 2012, then from 2015...