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Tara Bell-Janowick (from left), Julie Cocorro and Blanche DuBois, members of the Southern Illinois Pride Fest planning committee, look over plans for the upcoming festival in Carbondale.

CARBONDALE — Southern Illinois' first LGBTQ+ Pride Festival promises a lineup of fun and celebratory events this weekend.

The celebration starts Friday with a reception for an art show and Pride kick-off celebration and a double-feature movie showing at The Varsity Center.

The reception is from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at The Varsity Center; it celebrates the kick-off of Pride Weekend, and is co-hosted by the First Christian Church of Carbondale, Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship and the Church of the Good Shepherd. It also honors the artwork of Shawn Vincelette; he has an exhibit in The Varsity Gallery through the month of June titled "The Iconic Personality Series." Vincelette is a Southern Illinois native who founded the Vincelette Collection Art Gallery in Atlanta after graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia.

After the reception, the film "Milk" will screen in the Balcony Theater at 8 p.m. "Milk" was directed by Gus Van Sant and written by Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar for the screenplay. The film tells the story of Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay man to be voted into public office in the United States. Following "Milk," "The Birdcage," a 1996 comedy, will screen at 10:30. It tells the story of a gay couple's meeting with the family of their son's fiancee. Both films are rated R. Tickets for each are $5.

On Saturday, a pride walk from Gaia House to the Carbondale Town Square Pavilion kicks off the festival portion of the weekend. Pride Walk is at 11 a.m. and the festival runs in the Pavilion from noon to 4 p.m. There will be drag performers, improv, a DJ and fun activities. Blanche Dubois is the mistress of ceremonies.

After the festival, The Varsity Center hosts drag queen bingo from 4 to 7 p.m. Meanwhile, the Gaia House hosts a youth party from 6 to 11 p.m. with drag performances and other entertainment and games.

Saturday night, Street Bar hosts a benefit show for the Rainbow Cafe, a drop-in center for LGBTQ+ youth in Southern Illinois. The show starts at 8 p.m. Saturday. Mistress of Ceremonies Jodie Santana will host and perform; the evening includes live music, drag performances, a 50-50 raffle and food and drink specials. Cover is $8.

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