Sunday, June 24 1:00-2:00 pm
Broadway and Wellington (@ Pride!)
“You’re so hot!”
This is the first year I have intentionally attended Chicago Pride. In the past I attended parades in San Diego and New York, but never before Chicago. I was expecting that we would be well-received. I expected we would feel a lot of love among like-minded individuals. I hate to say it, but I was sorely disappointed.
While waiting at Diversey and Damen for Sara, I make some new friends. They bike up to the corner and are overjoyed to see me, although I have never seen them before. Turns out they were supposed to meet a friend, who bears a striking resemblance to me, on that very corner. We have a cozy introduction and realize we have some mutual friends. They too are on their way to Pride. “See you there!” I tell them.
When Sara and I arrive the parade is already in full-swing. The sun blazes strongly overhead and crowds fill the street, plastic cups and beer bottles in hand. We station ourselves directly behind the crowd on Wellington, hoping that we will be seen but not in the way. “Necklaces, beads! Get your necklaces!” a nearby vendor bellows, holding his mardi gras wares above our heads. Depending on my position, I can sometimes see the floats adorned with scantily clad men and women alike, shaking their bodies to music as the crowd cheers them on. From where I stand I see a bunch of people perched on the roof of building watching the parade. One guy with a beer bottle in hand staggers around and waves his fist in the air. I have to turn away for fear that I will see him fall from the rooftop to his death. Very few people seem to notice us and even fewer come up and speak to us, although several people tell us we are “hot.” A teenage girl comes up and silently puts her arms around us and holds on for a while.
A guy pushes his way through the crowd. As he walks away from us I see his ass cheeks are hanging of his pants. A group of girls brace themselves against a building. One bends over and begins to thrust her pelvis in time with the music and the others follow. A groups of guys run up and begin thrusting themselves against the girls. There are empty bottles everywhere.
Later in the day, when the parade dies down, Sara and I hear that there had been several fatal accidents during the parade. Someone was trampled to death and several people fell off floats. I don’t understand how this demonstration supports gay rights. It just seems like an excuse to get belligerently drunk and act ridiculous.
I thought Pride would be a safe and accepting environment, but that was not my experience. Rather, the atmosphere was disturbingly voyeuristic. Are we so repressed that we can only express our sexuality in extremes? Either we are closed tight or we get belligerently drunk and slap peoples’ asses in the street. That’s not my idea of healthy sexual expression. It pains me to say it but I think this will be my first and last Chicago Pride.