2019 CU Pride Fest

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10th Annual Champaign-Urbana Pride Fest 2019

Queer History. OUr History.

The UP Center of Champaign County would like to extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation to all the sponsors, vendors, parade participants, entertainers, volunteers and the Champaign-Urbana community for helping to make this year’s Pride Fest a phenomenal success. The outpouring of support from Champaign County for the LGBTQ+ community is overwhelmingly awe-inspiring.

Thank you to our amazing staff and volunteers; who worked diligently to ensure Pride Fest was a success and, without them, none of this would have been possible. We know it was a huge effort to coordinate the 10th annual CU Pride Fest and your hard work showed and was appreciated by all.

Thank you for Helping us create an amazing, inclusive celebration For the LGBTQ+ Community!

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The UP Center of Champaign County is proud to announce the theme for the 10th annual C-U Pride Parade and Fest: “Queer History, Our History.”

This year's celebration marks significant anniversaries for both the UP Center and LGBTQ+ history. September is the 10th anniversary of the UP Center and the start of the C-U Pride Parade and Fest. The UP Center started in September of 2009 and a small Pride celebration took place in Lincoln Square Mall in 2010. With an ever changing, dedicated group of volunteers, C-U Pride has grown to be the largest Pride celebration in Illinois outside of Chicago.

In addition to the local anniversary, we are celebrating what many see as the ignition of LGBTQ+ Civil Rights movement – the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Riots. In June of 1969, the transgender and gay patrons of the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, fought back against another early morning raid by New York city police. Over the next few years, starting in 1970, Pride parades and commemorations were celebrated in recognition of the Stonewall demonstrations. The 50/10 logo in celebration of this important milestones was created by Adam Alexander for the UP Center in commemoration of Marsha P. Johnson and the flower crowns she often adorned.


Logo by Adam Alexander

Logo by Adam Alexander


UP Center History

The UP Center of Champaign County was started in the Fall of 2009 with the purpose to plan and promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and allied support services, social gathering, special events, and education in Champaign County. At that time, there were a few individual groups providing a variety of supports for the LGBTQ+ community that were struggling over the same things: audience, space, funds, and general resources. The UP Center was formed to provide an umbrella structure for which these things could be shared. 

The Center was founded by a dedicated group of volunteers who came together to develop the organization’s mission and structure. The structure was intentionally developed to be flexible and allow growth through community need and volunteerism. The Center was incorporated by the state of Illinois as a non-profit organization in January 2010 and the Federal 501(c)(3) application for Tax-Exempt status was submitted to the IRS in February of 2010. 

Since its beginning, the UP Center has focused on building connections with individuals, groups, organizations, and municipalities in order to cultivate a community of support, share resources, and educate. The first support groups formed under the organization’s umbrella were the youth group (Talk It UP), and the men’s support group (Man UP). Over the years, several groups have provided support to different communities as needed, while our community has also benefited from the Center’s special events such as the C-U Pride Parade and Festival.


A Brief History Lesson About the Stonewall Riots

Another raid by New York City police on the Stonewall Inn in the early morning of June 28, 1969 seemed to be the breaking point for the gay, lesbian, queer, and transgender patrons of the Greenwich Village safe haven. When police lined up the slightly more than two hundred patrons in the bar, the group was separated into those who were about to be arrested. This group included all persons not dressed as their assigned at birth gender, a crime in 1969. While waiting for the patrol wagons to make an appearance to bring those arrested to the police station, the crowd grew agitated and restless, with some accounts crediting Storme DeLarverie, a biracial drag king who was being arrested, as igniting the pushback. Marsha P. Johnson, a trans woman of color and drag queen, known for her presence on Christopher Street, was one of the vanguards of the protest. The officers, soon outnumbered, found themselves and some of those they were going to arrest barricaded back in the bar. Thirteen people in total were arrested. It is estimated that some 500 to 600 people were outside the Stonewall that night. The riot lasted until 4 a.m., then started again the next night. For six nights, the local gay community, drag queens and transgender patrons, homeless youth, and allies, filled Christopher Street and the surrounding neighborhood. From that night, organizations like the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), founded by, transwomen of color, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, and the Gay Liberation Front formed. DeLarverie went on to be an influential member of the Stonewall Veterans Association and worked as a protector to local Village lesbian bars. Now, fifty years later, parades and celebrations are held around the world to remember that Pride started as a riot.