Youth Blog – 10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Chicago’s LGBTQ History (Part 2)
Written by Kai, IMPACT intern.
As we continue our tour through Chicago’s LGBTQ history, we zoom in on local historic festivities to celebrate LGBTQ Pride, including the Pride Parade along the famed Halsted strip.
1. The 1st Chicago Pride was held on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots
The first ever Chicago Pride event was in June 1970. The event was much less a festival and more of a protest of the discrimination and unequal treatment the LGBT community faced. Fewer than 200 LGBTQ individuals march. The following year Chicago Pride changed routes to be closer to the popular gay neighborhood, Clark and Diversey. Over the next few years, it would grow in size and representation.
2. LGBTQ People of Color organized beyond mainstream Pride to make their experiences visible.
Chicago has been called one of the most segregated cities in the United States.  Many have said that the Chicago Pride event that is held near the north side is not an accurate representation of communities of color. In 1977, Black LGBTQ individuals in the Rocks Coordinating committee hosted an unofficial after Pride Parade party at Belmont Rocks which was an area just off of the Belmont Harbor next to Chicago’s Lake Michigan. In 2013, Rocks Coordinating Committee and Chicago Windy City Black Pride formed to create the United Black Pride.  Black Pride is a weeklong series of workshops, social events, cultural tradition and performing arts.
3. Activists worked to make Pride more inclusive.
The Dyke March formed from a desire for a more accurate representation of Chicago’s LGBTQ community. Queer women, especially women of color, were often not represented in Pride events. An activist group known as the Lesbian Avengers started the first Dyke March in New York to fix this problem. A few years later, in 1996, the event came to Chicago.  Over the years the route has changed a lot to reflect the diversity of Chicago’s LGBTQ community. The event is currently held in the South Shore area of Chicago to bring more of an LGBTQ presence in the southern sides of Chicago.
4. June was recognized as Pride month in Chicago by Elected Officials
The 45th annual Chicago Pride Parade was a very special one. Not only was it the first parade to be held after Illinois passed the marriage equality bill, but Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel proclaimed June as Pride Month. This tradition of June being named Pride month has continued on since.
5. Chicago’s Pride Parade has marched on in the face of adversity!
On the day of the 42nd Pride Parade, vandals slashed the tires of over 51 floats to try to stop the parade from happening. They did an estimated $20,000 of damage! While the parade was delayed from starting the parade continued as scheduled. Despite the setback the 2011 Pride Parade held over 750,000 attendees!
Chicago has a rich and wonderful LGBTQ community full of diversity. The Pride parade has grown from a small gathering of political activists to a nationwide celebration of love and acceptance.
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