Chicago Celebrates Gay Pride With a Bevy of Events
June Pride month has come to Chicago in full force with a stellar Pride parade scheduled, along with a bevy of events to celebrate all month long. From the much longer Pride parade down Halsted to the two-day Pride Fest to a bevy of assorted lectures, parties, plays and drag shows, the Windy City puts wind in its sails for Chicago Gay Pride.
"We have a new, longer parade route this year. We are looking forward to safe and joyous parade on June 24 with 200 registered entries and Grand Marshal Evan Wolfson," said Parade Coordinator, Richard Pfeifer.
This year’s pride parade, which, as ever, is the centerpiece of Chicago Pride month, will be held on Sunday, June 24 and will begin at noon. Parade organizers encourage people to get in place early and utilize the parade route not only on Halsted, because of overcrowding, but also the other streets the parade route will follow. The parade will proceed south from its starting point at Broadway Avenue and Montrose Street to Halsted Street, up Belmont Avenue east to Broadway Avenue, south on to Diversey Parkway and east to Cannon Drive.
Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide, will serve as Grand Marshal. He is widely considered to be a key architect of the movement to legalize same-sex marriage.
"I’m excited to be returning to Chicago -- this time to be Grand Marshal in the Pride Parade -- and especially happy because it is a great chance to help ramp up the campaign to finish the job and win the freedom to marry in Illinois," said Wolfson. "Civil union lays a good foundation, but is no substitute for marriage itself; and with possibilities to win in both the courts and the legislature, we all need to talk about why marriage matters and build momentum in the Land of Lincoln."
Pride Fest and Other Chicago LGBT Events
Pride Fest, which is held immediately before Chicago’s iconic Pride Parade, is a two-day event that marks the first official party of summer in Chicago. Hosted by the Northalsted Business Alliance, this crowd-pleasing gay and lesbian celebration of community pride showcases an eclectic lineup of arts and crafts, food and other vendors along North Halsted Street between Addison and Grace.
Pride Fest will feature entertainment on two stages with one (the South stage) dedicated to some of Chicago’s fine performers in the gay community. This year will see performances on the south stage from Chicago’s own Sixteen Candles and the Spirit Brigade on Friday and Saturday, the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus and Wedding Banned on Saturday.
The north stage will be graced by recording artists JoJo and Inaya Day on Friday and Martha Wash celebrating 30 years of "It’s Raining Men" on Saturday, followed by the Pride Drag show and more musical performances by artists Frenchie Day and Guinevere.
Pride celebrations aren’t limited to the weekend of the fest and parade. June is Pride month, and there are special events planned for every day of it. Whether you enjoy a play, a lecture, a book club or a drag show, there is something for everyone.
The Summer Pride Film Festival is showing "Fish Out of Water," presented by the Gay and Straight Together Ministry of United in Faith Lutheran Church, 6525 W. Irving Park Rd. This Chicago-produced documentary by filmmaker Ky Dickens explores seven Bible passages used to condemn homosexuality and justify marriage discrimination.
The film fest includes several other movies being presented in July and August. Another movie, "The Lies We Tell But the Secrets We Keep: The Sequel," will be shown on at 7 p.m. on June 21 by MVP Productions at the Portage Theatre, 4050 N. Milwaukee. Tickets are $15 in advance.
For those more in a performing mood, the 10th annual competition of the Windy City Gay Idol Finals takes place on June 16 at Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted. The doors open at 2 p.m. and competition starts at 3 p.m. The event is open to all amateur singers, age 21 and above, regardless of sexual orientation.
Another hot event is the LGBTQ open mic reading, an annual Pride month event hosted by Women and Children First Books, on June 13 at 5233 N. Clark Street. Every year, seasoned pros and first timers share their work at this well-attended event. Readers sign up in advance, and slots fill quickly so get there early and bring up to two typed (double-spaced, 12 pt. font or larger) pages of original poetry or prose to share.
There will be no shortage of parties and gatherings during the month. The 9th annual weekend Pride party called the Backlot Bash runs from June 21-24, starting a day earlier this year with a Comedy Kickoff at Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse. Tickets are $20 in advance and online. The Backlot Bash continues June 22-24 in the parking lot behind Cheetah Gym, 5238 N. Clark, as in past years.
Salty dogs will enjoy the 2nd Annual Gay Pride in Chicago Sailboat Excursion, The Golden Sail Adventure Sunset Cruise, beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 23. Boarding is at Burnham Harbor, 1559 S. Lake Shore Drive. Tickets are $40 each and must be purchased in advance.
And arguably the healthiest Pride event is the 31st annual "Proud to Run" event which includes a 5k run, 10k run, and a 2 mile fun walk presented by Frontrunners/Frontwalkers Chicago in Lincoln Park on Montrose at Simmonds Drive (east of Lake Shore Drive, at the lakefront). The event begins at 8:04 am on June 23, and all fees to participate benefit local organizations, Pride Youth and the Gerber/Hart Library.
The 2012 Pride month, Fest and parade in Chicago will be bigger and better than ever before. Don’t miss your opportunity to celebrate with the LGBT community and supporters.
For a complete schedule of events, visit http://www.chicagopridecalendar.org/