High spirits, good will at Buffalo Grove's revised 'Pride Drive'
The enthusiasm that accompanied 2019's inaugural Buffalo Grove Pride Parade -- evidenced by its estimated 6,000-plus attendees -- all but ensured a 2020 follow-up.
That is, until a global pandemic and a global outrage threatened to curtail the event founded by 14-year-old Molly Pinta and organized with her parents, Carolyn and Bob Pinta.
But the Pintas and their supporters persevered. And on Sunday, a revised event organized in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and Pride Month, unfolded under sunny skies and against a rainbow-colored backdrop to the sound of dance music, beeping car horns and gleeful shouts.
In April, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pride Parade was re-imagined as a Pride Drive, with vehicles driving through the village past houses decorated in support of the LGBTQ community. By May, the number of homeowners participating had burgeoned to 94 and the Pride Drive was set for June 7.
On May 25, George Floyd -- detained on suspicion he purchased cigarettes with a phony $20 bill -- was killed in police custody after Minneapolis officers pinned him to the ground and another officer knelt on his neck. Floyd's death prompted Carolyn and Molly to consider canceling the event.
"We are full of pride, but we understand so many people are hurting," Carolyn Pinta said.
Instead they expanded the mission to promote awareness of social injustice.
Reaching out to a Black Lives Matter teen group, the Pintas proposed donating a portion of the proceeds to Brave Space Alliance, a Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ center on Chicago's South Side. Proceeds from the Pride Drive's food drive will be split between food pantries in Wheeling and Vernon Hills.
Participants welcomed the inclusion of Black Lives Matter, Carolyn Pinta said.
"The thing about this time, there is so much more love than hate. And on Nov. 3, we're going to see it," she said.
A steady stream of vehicles festooned with streamers, balloons and signs that read "Love is Love," "Closets are Made for Clothes," "Black Lives Matter" and "We Love our BG Community" inched their way past the Pinta home in the 700 block of Thompson Boulevard. Crowding the sidewalks were paradegoers dressed in rainbow hues who waved rainbow flags and posed for pictures alongside drag performer Miss Flo and in front of rainbow-colored balloon sculptures.
Leslie and Scott Sakoda of Wauconda brought their infant daughter Georgia, who sported a rainbow-colored onesie.
"We wanted to show our support," said Leslie Sakoda, a Buffalo Grove native. "It's such a happy environment and everyone is so positive."
Buffalo Grove has always been a tolerant community with kind, accepting residents, said Natalie Gerson, who lives near the Pinta family.
"Everyone is welcome here," said the 18-year-old, who came out this year.
"This is an amazing thing they created," she said. "It's good for people who are struggling to come out."
U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, who attended the inaugural event last year, felt compelled to return.
"We're in an exceptional time," noted the Deerfield Democrat, referring to both the civil unrest and the pandemic. "We have to take this moment to understand, listen and make changes."
"In this extraordinary moment we need to unite," he added, citing the motto E pluribus unum. "Out of many, one. We need to rise to this moment."