Chicago's 7th Annual Gay Pride Fest is Friday, June 26th, 3:00 PM - 10:00 PM and Saturday, June 27th, 11:00 AM - 10:00 PM. If you're not familiar with the Fest, it's at Waveland & Halsted Streets and is just a big excuse to party and buy rainbow chotchkies, watch Drag Shows and listen to some great music. And let's not forget, the most awesome people watching!
Chicago's 40th Annual Gay Pride Parade is Sunday, June 28th 12noon - 6pm. Alexandra Billings, actor, teacher and activist is the Grand Marshal this year.
If you've never been to Chicago's Gay Pride Parade...GO! It's a must see and everyone is welcome. Yes there are lots of gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, transgendered, Drag Queens, Drag Kings, but there are also gay couples with their children and straight couples with their children. It's not the nekkid wild party of old. (Although in parts, it can be. More on that later with my most recent Pride story.)
My first Pride story comes from 1988 when I first moved to Chicago. I wasn't out to myself then (not a clue), but I just happened to move in one of the gayest neighborhoods in Chicago. I had just moved in 2 weeks before, and knew nothing about the parade. I was driving home from Targhay and I could not get near my neighborhood. I drove for at least 2 hours looking for street parking, gave up and drove into a Lake Shore Drive high rise's parking lot. The lot attendant asked me if I was "one of those", meaning, was I gay? I was practically in tears at this point, showed him my driver's license proving I lived around the corner and begged him to let me park there.
My second Pride story comes from the June after I came out. I went to Girl Bar on Halsted (sadly, it's no longer there) the Friday before Pride. I was fairly newly out, hadn't really dated and I'm sure my newbie'ness showed. A blonde with spikey hair kept looking my way and finally hollered across the bar to introduce herself and her girlfriend. When a seat closer opened up, they motioned for me to take it. They were both from out of state, different states. They met up each year for the weekend at Chicago's Gay Pride weekend. I'm not really good at judging this, but it seemed like blondie was flirting with me. She came over and gave me a back massage and a neck rub. Later blondie invited me to join them at their hotel. Yes she did! I was wondering if this was some kind of initiation or something. I swear she only asked to see me pee myself, from sheer nervousness at even being asked. I responded with 'no, but thank you for asking', downed my drink and quickly walked out of the bar and hailed a cab. Yes, I did too say 'but thank you for asking'. I'm all polite like that. Lol!
Third Pride was on my motorcycle. A friend and I each rode our bikes to the parade and then walked to Halsted & Belmont to watch the parade. If you have a motorcycle, this is THE way to go because it's so much easier finding a parking spot for a bike.
Last Pride was with Anastasia, before we moved to the burbs. We walked to the parade route and went into a bar on the corner for a cold one and ended up staying for the whole parade because we could sit in air conditioning, have an adult beverage AND see everything from their windows. We got to see the parade, and 2 private shows. Yes! Two! There was a drunk guy in a wrestling outfit (showing off his shortcomings) and taking photos with everyone. The other show was just outside the window. Someone turned a trash can upside down by the traffic light pole and a woman climbed on top of it and started dancing...topless dancing. After all the shows ended, we walked down Belmont to Mi Tierra, and had lunch and a pitcher of margaritas.
Wish we could go this year, but we have previous plans. If you go, keep an eye out for blondes with spikey hair and dudes in wrestling outfits.
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