Organizers of the first Elgin Pride Parade and Festival will be holding a benefit for the summer event on Saturday, March 7.
The Big Queer Variety Show and Fundraiser takes place at The Martini Room, 161 E. Chicago St. at 8 p.m.
Hosting the fundraiser will be drag performer Ms. Moana Lotte.
"Moana Lotte also is going to be our parade grand marshal," Elgin Pride Parade and Festival organizer Kayla Bates said. "In her non-drag life, Moana is Dr. Joel Filmore, the owner of the largest and only minority and queer-owned, queer-friendly and affirming counseling private practice in Illinois, Lighthouse Counseling."
Another fundraiser drag performer, Marichael, hails from Texas. Marichael and fellow drag artist Hekira will be doing celebrity impersonations and ribbon dancing at the benefit.
The bill also includes the solo comedy acts Ryley Renee and Sunny Grissom. "I'm mostly carpentry tips, communist propaganda, and gay complaining," Grissom quips.
Jacob Mayfield and his husband Shane are set to perform their unique two-person mind reading and mentalism act. They specialize in telepathic experiments, demonstrating the intuitive connection of various audience members, and feature Shane's training as a visual artist.
Katie Hibben and Heather Bouton will be rocking out on stage for the benefit as well as performing with a full band at this year's Pride festival on June 6.
The Elgin Pride Parade and Festival is the first for the city. Bates said several events are already in the works, with a downtown parade route almost set.
Things will kick off June 5 with a Pride Art Showcase at Side Street Studio Arts, Bates said.
The parade and festival will get underway in downtown Elgin June 6 at 10 a.m. While outdoor events conclude at 4 p.m., the celebrations will continue through the night and beyond.
Among the June 6 activities will be a vendor marketplace, musical performances, documentary screening, a panel discussion with long-term survivors of HIV/AIDS, Queer Karaoke at the Martini Room and a drag show and dance party at Medusa to round out the night.
For June 7, organizers are planning a nondenominational church service to be followed by a potluck community meal. Also in the works are a June 10 Pride Ride community bike ride through the city with Elgin Bike Hub, a June 14 drag brunch and a rainbow reading event June 27 at Gail Borden Public Library.
Bates said the Elgin Association of Firefighters, IAFF Local 439, has stepped forward as an event sponsor, as have several other local businesses and community members. The Elgin Police Department has provided support in the form of a department member being part of the organizing team, Bates said.
The March 7 benefit at the Martini Room is for those 21 and older. Admission is $20 and limited to 112, the capacity of the room.
For more information, or to donate to Elgin Pride see the website ( www.elginpride.com ), the Facebook page ( www.facebook.com/elgbtq ) or email Bates directly at ELGbtq@gmail.com .
There will be a drag show Friday, Feb. 21 beginning at 9 p.m. at the Martini Room featuring Ms. Moana.