June 28, 2014

2014 Chicago Pride Parade makes Strange Bedfellows

June 28, 2014. Chicago. The 45th annual Chicago Pride Parade is tomorrow and already nearly a million people are expected to attend. Such a large showing illustrates something today’s young people are promoting about the yearly event - you don’t have to be gay to have pride in yourself and who you are. And that is evident by the wide assortment of grassroots organizations marching to celebrate all sorts of pride. Join Waguespack, Wade, Beacham and March Against Monsanto tomorrow.

750k to 1 million people will participate in tomorrow’s Chicago Pride Parade. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Your author and the Illinois Herald have been invited by no less than four different groups who will be marching in tomorrow’s Chicago Pride Parade. While none of them are LGBT organizations, they are advocates of tolerance and freedom, for the most part. At least they're all sincere in their beliefs and that's what counts. This is a weekend for pride, freedom and unity, not confrontation.

2014 Chicago Pride Parade

Tomorrow’s Pride Parade is expecting 750,000 people to line Chicago north side streets. But if the weather is nice, don’t be surprised if the event breaks the 1,000,000 mark. Revelers are already celebrating along the parade route with the accompanying two-day festival along the two-mile parade route stretching from this morning (Saturday) to tomorrow evening (Sunday).

‘The parade kicks off at noon on Sunday, June 29, 2014, at Montrose and Broadway in Uptown and ends near the intersection of Diversey and Sheridan in Lincoln Park,’ the Pride Parade’s website details, ‘Pride Month in June is the culmination of Chicago's vibrant LGBT community. The energy in the city peaks on Pride Weekend, which falls on the last weekend of June each year in commemoration of the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. On Pride Friday and Saturday, thousands will gather along Halsted for the two day festival. Stages of music, exhibitors, great food and drinks are available to enjoy. In the evening the revelers will pour into Boystown clubs and party into the wee hours of the night.’

Organizers give some very valuable advice to prospective parade goers, especially families with small children and fragile seniors, or even for those looking to experience the wilder side and not wanting to be stuck in the family section. ‘For the liveliest viewing spots, head to the Boystown section of North Halsted, between Belmont and Grace,’ parade organizers advise, ‘If you are seeking a less crowded area to view the parade, look for your viewing spots near the beginning of the route along Broadway between Montrose and Sheridan or further along Broadway between Belmont and Diversey.’

Diverse contingent of marchers

Showing that diversity breeds more diversity, a host of different grassroots organizations, politicians and community groups are marching in the 2014 Chicago Pride Parade. Your author has received much-appreciated invitations from no less than four different groups to march with them in tomorrow’s parade, and I’m often considered a right-winger. Although for the record, this author and the Illinois Herald are staunch independents. Since there are far too many participating organizations and elected officials to list, we’ll just share those four that extended an invitation to us north side independents as a sampling.

Chicago Alderman Scott Waguespack was the first to extend an invitation to us. As one of only a half dozen honest and reform Aldermen in the Chicago City Council, we’ve been big fans of the 32nd Ward Alderman for years. Alderman Waguespack’s Facebook Event Page for the Pride Parade details, ‘Walk with Alderman Waguespack in the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 29! We will be walking with 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney. The stepping off point is at Broadway and Montrose. We will be meeting at our lineup spot just north of Montrose on the east side of Broadway at 11:30am. The parade begins at 12pm. We are number 10 in the parade line-up. Beads will be provided. Please let us know if you do not already have one of Ald. Waguespack's t-shirts so we know how many extras to bring. Please tell your friends and bring them to walk with us!’

The Green Party and Nancy Wade for Congress were the second group to invite us to march with them. Wade is the Green Party’s nominee in this year’s election for the 5th US Congressional District on Chicago’s north side. An announcement from Wade and the Green Party tells supporters, ‘Show your Green Party PRIDE and come march with Nancy Wade and the Illinois Green Party in the Chicago Pride Parade! We as Greens were decades ahead of the rest in supporting full equality as a party and we will continue to lead the fight for full human rights for all. Here's how you should prepare for the Pride Parade: 1. Wear something green, lots of suntan lotion, and comfy shoes! 2. Invite your friends and family to march with us! 3. Get ready to have a blast! Time: Get to the area by 9:30-10:00am. Location: Meet at the corner of Montrose and Sheridan. Parade step-off at noon.’

John Beacham, a 2015 candidate for the Chicago City Council under the banner of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, was next to invite us to march with him and his campaign in the Chicago Pride Parade. The candidate for 49th Ward Alderman on Chicago’s far northeast side announced on his campaign website, ‘If you want a Chicago that belongs to all and not just the rich and their bought-off politicians, volunteer, spread the word: We’re building a movement to fight for justice and equality! Pride Parade - Sunday, June 29. Meet at 11:00am sharp at the Target in Uptown, 4466 N. Broadway. We will be joining the Refugee and Immigrant Rights contingent.’

March Against Monsanto doesn’t just march against global corporations transforming the world’s food supply into laboratory-created, barely tested, food-replacing substitutes. They’re also marching in tomorrow’s Chicago Pride Parade. Their plan isn’t without its controversy however. ‘Join Us at Pride Parade this weekend, 11:AM Sunday, meet at Target, 4466 N. Broadway,’ March  Against Monsanto Chicago organizers notified their own supporters, ‘Going on two years now, the GLN (Gay Liberation Network) has supported the March Against Monsanto both with advise as well material support. Please join with us to support both GLN and Immigrant Solidarity. Let us know - Please comment and or message me if you like, or simply show up.’

Protesting makes strange bedfellows

The comments on the March Against Monsanto Chicago Facebook page were mixed. Some had no problem marching with pro-illegal immigration activists. But some, while dedicated to the cause of fighting GMO’s and Monsanto, refuse to advocate for an open border and all the worlds immigrants illegally flooding across the US border.

One comment from a March Against Monsanto supporter summed up the sentiment saying, ‘Refugee and immigrant rights have nothing to do with MAM or LGBT. I am not for opening the borders or illegal immigrant rights. Sorry. Barely enough jobs for Americans as it is.’ Another echoed that position saying, ‘I am not sure why you have to mix issues of food, deportations and LGBT. They are totally separate causes. We do not protest against everything but choose based on our beliefs.’

"The news shouldn't be left wing or right wing, conservative or liberal. It should be the news. It should be independent" - Mark Wachtler, Illinois Herald owner/editor

Caught in the middle of this debate, your author added in his own position to the comments on the March Against Monsanto Chicago Facebook page. ‘I have no problem joining with allied but unrelated groups for a parade unrelated to both,’ your author volunteered, ‘I have no position on LGBT other than love conquers all, and I'm totally opposed to open borders and an invasion of America. But I march against Monsanto and I realize the fight isn't left vs right like our TV's keep telling us. It's the evil establishment vs the people. We're all on the same team at the end of the day. And I can stand with people I don't agree with on everything. Working together is the only way we're going to change things for the better.’

That seems to be the prevailing sentiment for attendees of the 2014 Chicago Pride Parade, as the vast majority of participants are actually heterosexual. But that illustrates the transformation the annual event has taken over the years. Once strictly a gay pride parade, it has grown to include anyone and everyone who wants to take pride in themselves but runs into social and government suppression. And that includes a whole lot of us these days.


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