Crowds lined the city streets early June 25 for the 48th annual Chicago Pride Parade, with some attendees showing up two hours before the noon start time.
The parade showcased 150 floats from an array of organizations, businesses and politicians. Illinois native Lea DeLaria, known for her role as Big Boo on the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black,” led the parade as the grand marshal.
The route spanning from Montrose Avenue to Diversey Parkway lasted two and a half hours as thousands of attendees in rainbow and glitter attire cheered on the passing floats. The annual celebration commemorates Pride Month, designated each June to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.
Jay Baumann, 22, identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them. Baumann said they enjoyed being at the Pride Parade and celebrating their identity.
“Pride to me this year means being fully myself and being okay with people’s opinions and just being fully comfortable with myself and who I am,” Baumann said.
Those who enter the parade and groups sponsoring Pride Month are able to pick an international theme, an alternate theme or a slogan of their choice. This year’s choice was “Viva la Vida” with an alternate theme of “Stand Up, Stand Proud,” according to the Chicago Annual Pride Parade and June Pride Month website.
Politics and pride have been up for debate for years and attendee Meg Connell, 25, said she felt this year’s pride celebration served a greater purpose in light of the election of President Donald J. Trump. Many in the LGBTQ+ community have been concerned for their rights under the Trump administration.
Some of Trump’s actions since his inauguration include signing a religious liberty executive order that some people believe could encourage anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination. The administration also released a draft proposal for the 2020 census that does not include a count of LGBTQ+ citizens despite efforts for a more inclusive survey.
“It was so devastating when [Trump] got elected and now pride means more than it ever has because we have to be supportive and we have to make sure he knows we don’t like his policies,” Connell said.
Some came to the parade as allies, those who provide support to and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.
Rising Loyola senior Ugochukwu Okere marched in the parade to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and support Ameya Pawar, a candidate for Illinois governor in 2018. Okere, 21, said he marched specifically for LGBTQ+ people of color who he thinks are shut out of the conversation of LGBTQ+ rights.
“Pride means understanding that this is a movement for people of all types in terms of their sexual orientation and the way they identify themselves,” said the political science and social work double major. “For far too long we’ve been commercializing pride [and] we’ve been commercializing the whole LGBTQ movement.”
Pawar walked in the parade along with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Emily Dunlap, an economics and environmental studies double major at the University of Kentucky, attended the parade with her brother and cousin. Dunlap, 19, said pride is about being yourself.
“It’s doing what you feel is right without the worries of anybody else stepping in and interfering,” said the rising sophomore.