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Meet the Honorary Grand Marshals of the 2024 Rockford Area Pride Parade! Reception on March 18, 2024 at The LIAM Foundation.

The Rockford Area Pride Committee is thrilled to announce the selection of the 2024 Honorary Grand Marshals for the annual Rockford Area Pride Parade, scheduled for June 1, 2024. This year's parade theme, "Celebrate, Remember, Unite," resonates deeply within the vibrant LGBTQ+ community, and each selected Honorary Grand Marshal embodies the spirit of unity, celebration, and remembrance.


The esteemed individuals chosen to rally the parade as Honorary Grand Marshals are:


  • Krystal Ball and Phyllis Gallisath, representing the "Unite" category;

  • Bill Stein, representing the "Remember" category; and

  • Kevin Stites, representing the "Celebrate" category.


Each Grand Marshal has links to the Rockford area and brings a unique perspective and contribution to the LGBTQ+ community. Their selection symbolizes the diverse experiences and achievements within the community.


A Picture of Krystal Ball
Krystal Ball

Krystal Ball, representing the "Unite" category, fosters unity and solidarity within the Rockford Area's LGBTQ+ community. Krystal, in the face of intimidating threats and harassment, stood her ground in defense of Drag Culture at the Talcott Free Library during the notable protests in the Summer of 2023, even though for safety and sanity, it would have been easier to walk away. The protests centered around a library-sponsored Drag Queen Q&A which offered an opportunity for children and adults to learn more about the culture and art of drag. However, a group of protestors, both from within the area and outside of it, unsuccessfully tried to have the event canceled, even intimidating library staff into moving the event to a virtual platform. Krystal symbolizes resilience against the threats posed to LGBTQ+ culture by bigotry and prejudice, and her fortitude was a guiding light in uniting the community this past year. Her actions encourage so many to be out and proud.


A Picture of Phyllis Gallisath, Honorary Grand Marshal of the 2024 Rockford Area Pride Parade, with her son, Liam
Phyllis Galisath

Phyllis Gallisath, also representing the "Unite" Category, stepped into action after her son, Liam, became the first student at Harlem High School to come out as transgender. She helped establish the local PLFAG Chapter and was a vocal advocate for the area's LGBTQ+ Community. Liam, who was just a teenager, advocated strongly for his peers, all while trying to be comfortable in his own skin. Sadly, Liam would tragically die by suicide 3 years after coming out. Phyllis turned pain into purpose and founded the LIAM Foundation, which serves as a beacon of hope and strength for the LGBTQ+ Community in the Rockford Area. The name of the organization ‘LIAM,’ is not only Phyllis’ son’s name, but also an acronym for their core values: Love, Integrity, Advocacy, and Mentorship. To this day, Phyllis is one of the most recognized advocates for LGBTQ+ rights, services, and representation in the Rockford area.


A Picture of Bill Stein, Honorary Grand Marshal of the Rockford Area Pride Parade of 2024
Bill Stein

Bill Stein, representing the "Remember" category, exhibits how far forward the LGBTQ+ community has moved in the Rockford Area. In 2003, the news spread quickly throughout the area when the popular music director at the city's largest Catholic church was fired because of his sexual orientation. Shortly after Bill and his partner informed close friends and colleagues that they intended to adopt a child, some families found out and made it their goal to have him removed from his position. Leaning on outdated prejudice, their position was that they couldn't believe a gay person could be allowed to work in their church. Stein was fired shortly thereafter with little notice and was later employed by Court Street United Methodist Church, who made it a point to show their support for Bill and his family. Now, nearly 21 years later, Bill is happily married to his husband, John Stewart, and has two stepchildren and two grandchildren. While his story is, unfortunately, far from unique, thanks to Bill and others like him, many local businesses and institutions openly express their acceptance of and support for the LGBTQ+ community.


A picture Kevin Stites, honorary grand marshal of the Rockford Area Pride Parade of 2024.
Kevin Stites

Kevin Stites, representing the "Celebrate" category, is recognized for his contributions to LGBTQ+ culture and community. Music, theater, and the arts are important lifelines for many LGBTQ+ youth and adults, allowing an escape from the challenges of the world. One could argue that LGBTQ+ culture and the arts are so inextricably intertwined, that one cannot exist without the other. A native of Pecatonica, Illinois and a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) where he earned his Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Music,  Kevin has worked on 13 Broadway shows, including ON THE 20TH CENTURY (Revival), THE COLOR PURPLE (Music Supervision/Incidental Music), TITANIC (Original Musical Supervisor/Music Director), SUNSET BOULEVARD, LES MISERABLES (2006 revival), NINE (Revival), and spent 6 seasons as Music Director of the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. He also headed the National Tours of LES MIZ, MISS SAIGON, and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. He has served as guest conductor for the Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Grant Park Festival Orchestra, and has worked with Patti Lupone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Lea Salonga, Patina Miler, Skylar Astin, and Sierra Boggess with notable appearances at the Hollywood Bowl, Walt Disney Music Hall, Ravinia Festival, & Carnegie Hall. As an educator, Kevin has held positions at noteworthy institutions such as the University of North Carolina School of Arts, Boston Conservator Music at Berklee, Coastal Carlina University, and UIUC. Now, returning to the area, Kevin is advocating for increased access to the arts for the entire community and, in the process, enriching so many lives.


Committee Comments


"We are absolutely thrilled to unveil the stellar lineup of Krystal Ball, Phyllis Gallisath, Bill Stein, and Kevin Stites as our Honorary Grand Marshals for the 2024 Rockford Area Pride Parade," said Andrew J. Mertzenich, Chair of the Rockford Area Pride Committee. "Their dedication, passion, and resilience serve as inspirations to all, and we are honored to have them be an integral part of this year's parade."


Reception Information


A short reception will be held in honor of these commendable honorees on March 18, 2024, at 5:00 pm at The LIAM Foundation Headquarters, 1005 Fifth Avenue, Rockford IL 61104. Members of the press and public are welcome to attend to meet these individuals and learn their stories. Members of the Committee will also be available for comment. Attendees should dress business casual. Concurrently, attendees can view the currently running display of "50 Years: The Stonewall Uprising." The display is one of the kickoff events of the Rockford Area Pride festivities, and details just a small part of the colorful history of the LGBTQ+ Rights movement.


About the 2024 Rockford Area Pride Parade


The Rockford Area Pride Parade is scheduled to step off at 11:00 AM on June 1, 2024 in the heart of downtown Rockford. Further information can be found on the Rockford Area Pride Committee's website: www.RockfordAreaPride.org.


For inquiries, please contact the Rockford Area Pride Committee at info@rockfordareapride.org.


Media Contact: Andrew J. Mertzenich Chair, Rockford Area Pride Committee


The 2024 Rockford Area Pride Parade is presented by the City of Rockford and US Bank. The parade is also made possible through the generous support of its sponsors.





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