Monday, June 27, 2005


We just celebrated Pride Weekend in Chicago. If you're reading this blog, you probably already know what that is. But just in case, here's the nutshell explanation.

Pride Weekend, which is some places is still only Pride Day or may have expanded to Pride Month (is anybody that gay?) is the time of year when the part of the population that is in some way a sexual minority (it started with gay men and lesbians, then incorporated bisexuals, and in now in many places also includes transgendered folks) gets out onto the streets en masse to say–when you get down to the bottom of it–we're here, we're not ashamed of who we are, and we're always going to be here.

When all this began in the early 1970s, it had a very defiant, activist tone which faded somewhat during the 80s and 90s and now, with the advent of near-theocracy in the United States, seems to be resurfacing.

I went to my very first Pride Parade on the sly back when I was a kid in Hawaii and wasn't yet out to my family. It was small, and it took guts for the people in the parade to walk down the street behind those banners. I still have the "Gay Pride Hawaii" tank top I bought and hid in the bottom of my dresser drawer.

My second Pride Parade was in Boston, during the summer after my sophomore year. I loved it, though I was pissed off with the coverage the event received in the newspapers. As I recall, about 100,000 people showed up, the parade was two hours long, and the Boston Globe gave the story two inches at the bottom of page 20.

You see some of everything at Pride. Exactly what "everything" encompasses depends on where you are. In Chicago, we're famous (or infamous) for the politicians who ride or march in order to curry favor. This year, we even got the governor and at least a dozen others, including a clerk of the court, an assessor, and somebody who does something with water reclamation. This is to be expected in a city where our favorite spectator sports are baseball, politics, and architecture.

The general rule, however, is that no matter who marches in the parade, the straight media only ever shows pictures of either drag queens or leathermen walking slaves on leashes. This is intended to shock and titillate, though why even straights would find the sight of either shocking in this day and age is beyond me.

Groups who march who will probably never appear in the newspapers: church groups, gay parenting groups, police officers, firefighters, veterans of the armed forces, contingents from Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and members of gay/straight alliances from high schools.

I'll admit that Chicago is much better about this than Boston was, but that's a pretty low standard to beat.

The crowds of spectators have changed a lot. You see many, many more straight people than you used to, and more children overall, many of them there with their gay parent or parents.

There is an anti-Pride sentiment among some gay people. The viewpoint seems to be that the parade is passé and unnecessary, though I noticed one didn't hear quite so much of that this year with the government taking pot-shots at our right to exist.

Me, I enjoy the spectacle, and I will keep going and celebrating and being visible until it's safe for a 12-year-old kid in Peoria to take another boy to school dances. Until we get to that point, I will not agree that we have nothing left to march about.

I have nothing sterling in the way of photos from the March but here's a small sample. Heavy on drag as by luck of the draw the shots happened to come out the best. You go, girls.

Lakeside Pride Marching Band, Chicago Pride Parade, 2005

The Lakeside Pride Marching Band.

Harley Riders, Chicago Pride Parade, 2005

Two of the Harley motorcycle riders.

Leader Singer of Barely Standing, Chicago Pride Parade

Lead singer of the band Barely Standing.

Brazilian Woman, Chicago Pride Parade, 2005

One of the women from the Brazilian contingent.

Drag Queens, Brazilian Float, Chicago Pride Parade 2005

More Brazilians, some not actually women.

The Illinois State Lottery Float, Chicago Pride Parade, 2005

The Illinois State Lottery float (I kid you not).

Miss Kitty's Mermaid, Chicago Pride Parade, 2005

The Little Mermaid, non-Disney version.

With Chris, Chicago Pride Parade, 2005

With Chris after the parade. I now have a very weird camera strap tan-line.


Susan said...

Yay! Love the pics and the background. My Senator walked in the parade in Portland, and I'm certain you know it wasn't a political stunt on his part, especially considering our district.

goblinbox said...

Oh man, that tan line would piss me off so much! I'm such a freak, I'd be out the next day with oil where the strap had been and SPF 2000 everywhere else in an attempt to correct it!

Anonymous said...

The pic of you two is very sweet. The mermaid, however, is frightening.

Now, about 12 year olds taking other 12 year olds to dances? Does that really happen (regardless of gender)? 'Cause, I have a 10 1/2 year old and that really scares me, frankly. Oy.

Oh, and at least when you go to work your camera strap tan-line is hidden (or, at least I would think it's hidden). My flip-flop tan line on my feet isn't hidden by my dress/work shoes.

Franklin said...

I can understand your point of view, Jon and Mark. I don't identify with any one part of the community myself. I've never been a full-blown twink or bear or leather guy or club kid or musclehead. Tough to be a gay man without a category.

C said he never went to Pride in NYC because it had become a festival of Chelsea Boys. Chicago's is horribly commercial, but at least nobody gets excluded.

Maybe we can come up with a new, knitting-centric gay subculture and have our own bar. (With no smoking, of course, since you can never get that smell out of the wool.)

Colleen...sorry to have alarmed you, but I did go to my first school dance (with a girl) at 12, so that's the age I picked. We were heavily chaperoned, though, so it was all very innocent and pure. Does that help?

Of course, I won't tell you what I started doing at 13.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Franklin -

I've enjoyed reading your blog for a few months now. I love your hairy chest and believe me, you're very easy on the eyes!!

Anonymous said...

You and chris look so cute! But that wonder my son was terrified at Ariel's grotto when we were at Disney...that's probably what he was seeing!!!!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the getting the gov to appear. He rarely shows up in our capitol city. He's gonna need all of Chicago's votes to get reelected.
Course I'll really be impressed the day George Ryan shows up as a Vegas showgirl. That little Mermaid did have his figure though.

Rabbitch said...

OMG you're both so cute. If I was a boy I'd be in love with both of you but I'm not ... and well, I've sort of given up on boys anyhow.

Now, how to break this to my husband ...

And that is NOT a LITTLE mermaid.

Anonymous said...

Love the pics! And despite the prevailing opinion, I like the mermaid.

Anonymous said...

I was there, and have the peeling sunburn to prove it. I did get annoyed by all the beer advertisements, but besides that it was a blast.

Jon--Maybe the *I* was for Intersexed? I know some of that community's started to identify as queer.

(hi, by the way--I found you via Queer Joe.)

birdfarm said...

Hey, people, lay off the Non-Anorexic Mermaid. I don't see you up there in a costume, do I? Huh? Do I? Well then.

The photo of Franklin & C makes me so happy I almost put it on my blog. When I get home I'm gonna print it out and frame it. I love you guys (Ok, I still haven't met C, but I love him for putting that smile on your face, dearie!)

I was trying to think of "I" words and came up with "Intransigent," "Indeterminate," and "Indignant," but T Chem's suggestion seems more reasonable.

I haven't been to Pride in ages, mostly out of laziness. The last Pride I went to was in Brooklyn. I picked up a cute little ring shaped like two women entwined. But it was friggin' hot, and the music was too loud. Ohmygod, I just realized I haven't been to Pride in ages because I'm old!!!!!

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