Pride and the Windy City
I used to live in Chicago for over three wonderful years, and go back 2-3 times a year since leaving for LALA in 2010. While I’m a Southern boy for always, and Alabama is my heart of hearts, Chicago will always be my favorite city. Chicago’s Pride is my absolute favorite and this year is might have been one of my favorites yet.
Now Chicago is unique in that it has two weekends of Pride. The first weekend is what’s called Pride-Fest. It’s a weekend of vendors and performances in Chicago’s gayborhood called, “Boystown.”
The following weekend is the weekend that has the highly attended Chicago Pride Parade, this is the weekend I was there for.
When I got to the city you could tell gay was in the air. Rainbows were everywhere and the aura of fun was in the air, even at the beach.
Friday night the streets of Boystown were jam-packed. Every bar had a line and in some cases a delightfully high cover. The bar my friends and I made it into was a bar called Sidetrack. Sidetrack has a interesting layout that I would liken to the Hidden Temple from Legends of the Hidden Temple. They also had…really inexpensive and strong drinks. After a round (or four) there we went to Berlin.
Ok…not the country, but rather the mecca of after-hours beats in Boystown. Berlin is that place where the night turns into the morning and everything is cash only. The club was packed, especially as time went on and that is how the night ended the first night for us…and most of Boystown.
Saturday was bit more chill and relaxed and the plan was to go out to see Sixteen Candles, a local Chicago band that plays rock covers of 80s pop songs. They are fantastic and if you get a chance to see em play, do it.
That said…we didn’t see them this year. Chicago’s famous weather came into play and the show was rained out. On most Saturday’s during Pride a lot of people throw or go to house parties and sometimes filter out to Berlin to close the night…just like we did.
Sunday was Parade Day, which means get a bagel and orange juice, and by orange juice I mean mimosa and/or screwdriver and by bagel…I mean bagel…gotta carb up for a long day…ya know?
The Parade was interesting this year cause normally it’s Vegas rules where you walk with the most colorful of Solo cups and even more colorful drinks. This year they said they’d issue $1000 fines if you were found drinking along the route. While only three people were seen feeling that effect, the party went strong and gayer than ever.
As the parade wound down and Pride season came to a close even there were some who decided to hang around and keep the party goin. That led to a few smashed windshields and some overall ratchet behavior, which always goes away by morning and is cleaned up as if it never happened. Pride season being over means one very important thing though…bring on ALL OF THE CARBS!
While a lot of my friends in Chicago that isn’t the reason I love Pride up there. I love it because Chicago truly utilizes its gayborhood. That allows for Pride to be something that unites the queer people and allies of the city. I love Pride there because it reflects one of the initial ideals and true spirit of Pride: Community.
It’s been a great Pride season and I’ve loved it. If I have to close it on one note I’d say this: Pride isn’t just a weekend out of the year where gogo boys, drag queens, and politicians take to the street, real Pride is something that you feel and express all the time. I hope everyone can show that Pride they feel to everyone, every moment, of every day.