Asians & Friends Chicago (AFC)an LGBTQ+ social organization supporting the Asian community and those who have interests in Asian cultureshosted former Miss Philippines Maria Isabel Lopez at an AFC member's South Side Chicago home during a pre-Pride event held June 18.
In addition to crafting decorations and building parts of its Chicago Gay Pride Parade float, AFC members revealed many of the parade costumes they will be wearing to support its "#asianlove" theme of anti-violence and anti-hate against LGBTQ Asian-American Pacific Islanders (AAPI).
The Binibining Pilipinas Universe 1982 titleholderwho competed in the 31st Miss Universe Pageant in Lima, Perusaid it was "very important to call out hate in all forms, especially in how COVID has focused that hate on our AAPI community."
During an interview with AFC Board President Angel Abcede for the group's social-media platforms, Lopez said she experienced racism even during her days competing in the Miss Universe pageant, where local dignitaries overtly expressed disdain for contestants with dark skin. "I was shocked to see it," she said.
At the June 18 event, several AFC members revealed their Pride float costumes, which represented Asian royalty from countries like Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. Another more contemporary costume from Chicago designer Kevin Vong featured a full-length, mirrored-glass dress, complete with a reflective, Laotian-inspired headdress.
Also present at the June 18 function was Pomme Sirinupong, owner of Pomme Art and Craft, who offered parade-float riders additional jewelry to wear during the Pride Parade. Another sponsor supporting the one-day, Pre-Pride event with a dessert tray of bibingka was Chicago Sugar Daddy Patisserie, 3243 N. Broadway.
Abcede also recognized the late Richard Pfeiffer, who organized the Pride Parade for decades and passed away in October 2019. "Richard spent much of his life continuing the legacy of the city's Gay Pride Parade," he said. "We know the LGBTQ community today stands on the shoulders of those who laid the groundwork. Richard was definitely one of those pioneers."
AFC is celebrating its 37th year and has received numerous community honors, including induction as a community group into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2010, being named "Best Organization" twice in the Pride Parade and for hosting an international gathering of Asians & Friends chapters in Chicago in 2016.
For more information, visit www.afchicago.org; write Asians & Friends Chicago, P.O. Box A, Chicago, Illinois, 60690-3916; or call the AFC hotline at 312-409-1573.