Something was missing from Buffalo Grove's first pride parade

Something was missing from Buffalo Grove's first pride parade

I spent Sunday walking with my synagogue, Temple Chai, in the 1st Buffalo Grove Pride Parade and helping at the Uniquely Us Celebration.

It was organized by local middle-schooler Molly Pinta, who was inspired to action after attending a pride parade in Aurora last year.

We were proud to carry signs and a banner provided by a young lesbian couple who had recently joined our congregation. Proud not only because they had attended only a couple of worship services before deciding we were a welcoming and inclusive place where they could find a spiritual home. But because we're looking for younger families to join us as our membership ages and local demographic changes.

We walked near the front of the parade, so I had time after we finished the route to walk back into the crowd and see the 60-ish other groups who were taking part. There were synagogues, churches, local businesses, schools, the Lakeview Pride marching band, and a seemingly out-of-place anti-circumcision group. Very inclusive, as was the goal.

The crowd included families with young children (including my 3-year-old granddaughter and her play group) gay students, straight students, gay parents, straight parents, and one guy wearing an "I'm not gay but my boyfriend is" t-shirt. I took a moment while passing out candy to compliment him on his outstanding sartorial choice.

I happened upon a very tall drag queen who was wearing very high heels - I told him I was offended because someone so tall shouldn't be allowed to wear such high heels.

Later, while helping at our booth during the Uniquely Us Celebration after the parade I met some interesting and inspiring people. There was a gay teenager wearing a large spiked collar, asking about joining our congregation - another shul had told his mother they weren't really a gay friendly group, so they quit. He was looking for a synagogue where his mother could find a place to reconnect with her faith. It is a loving son who looks out for his mother that way.

A little girl wearing an "I love my moms" t-shirt with a "Smile, Jesus loves you" sticker stopped by to create her own pride button and take some candy and bubbles. A transgender parent, wearing a "They, them, their" button to make their pronoun preference clear, helped their children get some treats and make their own buttons.

There was even a 60-something-year-old gentleman pushing his silicone "wife" around in a wheelchair who spent a few minutes talking to one of our Board members. Seemed a bit odd to me, but he seemed happy (she remained expressionless) and they weren't hurting or offending anyone. So, as the theme of the day taught us, live and let live.

But there was one thing definitely missing from the event.

In what I assume was an abundance of caution, officials had set up two "free speech zones" for protesters - one on the parade route and one in the park where the Uniquely Us Celebration was held. Any protesters would have been visible to walkers and most of the crowd but possibly dangerous confrontations would be avoided.

As it turns out, there were no confrontations. Because there were no protesters.

Very proud of Buffalo Grove today, and very thankful to the Pinta family and all their volunteers for making it happen.

See you next year.

Filed under: Buffalo Grove, LGBTQ, Pride

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