Every year on the last Sunday in June, the LGBT community unites to celebrate the freedom of all people to meaningfully and proudly express their sexual and gender identities, and the ongoing commitment of the LGBT people to combat oppression. Based on the huge crowds of attendees today it appears that they are receiving much support from the Chicago community.
The annual Pride Celebration commemorates the rebellion of LGBT patrons of the Stonewall Inn in New York City's Greenwich Village in response to a routine police raid onJune 27, 1969. The following year, a "Gay-In" that took place on June 27, 1970 that was the early progenitor of the current Pride Celebration. Since 1972, the event has been held every year. Since its modest beginnings, Chicago Pride has grown to be one the largest and most well-known Pride events in the world.
What struck me today at the parade was the vast number of families with children and senior citizens who were in the crowd cheering on the participants. Has the gay community been accepted by Middle America as a mainstream way of life? For many, it has.
Every politician was in attendance either marching or represented by others. Major companies like American Airlines, United Airlines, and Bank of America, Walgreen’s, Tribune Company and many others were there in the support of gay pride. It used to be when I first started going to the parade that most of the participants were either politicians trying to garner the gay vote (Maria Pappas used to twirl her baton) or gay bars in Boy’s Town.
The feeling I had today was that after 42 years of marching that the LGBT community has indeed come a long way in raising awareness of those not familiar with their world. They have gained the respect and rights they have been longing for. They have been accepted in the military and given a voice in politics.
I know that the right to marry is important to many LGBT’s, but for a moment, let’s celebrate just how far they have come. Congratulations to my friends who have fought for their place in society.