Molly Pinta Credit: Photo by Jordyn Rubin

Buffalo Grove’s inaugural LGBTQ pride parade and festival are Sunday, June 2 along a residential route that’s likely to attract throngs of people sporting rainbow-hued feather boas, beads, and maybe even a tutu or two. Just be sure to keep it all family-friendly, suggests Molly Pinta, the 13-year-old student at Twin Groves Middle School who organized the parade along with her mom Carolyn, a Spanish teacher at the school.

Molly and her mom are asking participants to keep themselves and their floats “fully-clothed and advertising a positive message.”

“We want people to be able to bring their kids. We want teenagers to be able to come. We don’t want anyone turned away from the parade because it’s [deemed as] inappropriate,” explains Molly, who in addition to raising LGBTQ awareness, performs with Big Deal Productions, Buffalo Grove Park District’s award-winning theater program.

Galvanized by the outpouring of support she witnessed while marching in Aurora’s first pride parade in June 2018, Molly recorded a video publicly coming out and asking for monetary assistance to organize a parade in Buffalo Grove. Within a month of launching a GoFundMe campaign, Molly raised $10,000, and to date, she has raised more than $20,000 via the donation platform.

Once Pinta Pride Project Inc. became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in September 2018, sponsorship contributions led to an overall amount raised of more than $50,000 to cover security and other associated costs, according to Carolyn. Despite the costs, the opportunity for Molly and other Buffalo Grove locals to openly express their identity without having to leave the community is priceless.

Last year, Aurora’s inaugural pride parade drew an estimated 5,000 attendees. Will Buffalo Grove attract comparable numbers? “I won’t be shocked if 10,000 people show up . . .especially because they know there’s a festival they can attend after the parade—so attendees get to make a whole day of it,” says Carolyn. To date, 90 groups, organizations, and politicians have signed on to be parade participants.

The Uniquely Us Festival, organized by the Buffalo Grove Park District, will feature two 45-minute sets by the band Catfight, a dodgeball arena, food trucks, a beer and wine tent—and multiple community acts, including a performance by Molly and two dozen of her fellow thespians who will perform Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”

Other suburbs holding pride parades and festivals this year include Aurora, Highwood, Joliet, Naperville, and Woodstock.

While the Buffalo Grove community has largely embraced Molly’s efforts, some detractors—hiding behind the anonymity afforded by social media—have posted negative comments on the Pinta Pride Project’s GoFundMe and Facebook pages.

“I don’t really get the negative comments,” says Molly. “First, I’m not very active on Facebook. And second, they’re usually directed at my mom for ‘exploiting me and dragging me down the path to hell.’ These comments are truly not a big deal to me. I get so much more love than I get hate, so it doesn’t really affect me.”

"I get so much more love than I get hate, so it doesn’t really affect me.”
“I get so much more love than I get hate, so it doesn’t really affect me.”Credit: Jordyn Rubin

Molly’s moxie and confidence—combined with her determination to crowdfund Buffalo Grove’s inaugural pride parade—caught the attention of 2019 Chicago Pride Parade officials, who named the 13-year-old this year’s Youth Grand Marshal, calling her “a shining example of the hard work and sacrifices” of LGBTQ activists throughout history. Chicago’s 2019 parade will feature several honorary grand marshals, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City.

For the third year in a row, the White House is likely to ignore Pride Month. Undeterred, the LGBTQ community, particularly queer youth, will walk hand-in-hand, bodies covered in glitter and waving rainbow flags, refusing to be silenced in suburbia or anywhere else.  v