Some 30 years after the late San Francisco politician Harvey Milk led the LGBT community out of the Castro with the chant, "Out of the closet and into the streets," Chicago's gay community marched down Halsted utilizing the same chant.
After California's anti-same-sex marriage initiative Proposition 8 was upheld May 26, almost a thousand people, led by Join The Impact Chicago and Gay Liberation Network, gathered outside the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted in the early evening hours. Giant rainbow flags were passed out and hundreds of people brought their own homemade signs.
Speakers included several prominent gay Chicago activists, including Andy Thayer, one of the co-founders of the Gay Liberation Network in Chicago. He, like most of the speakers, talked about what a terrible blow this was for the movement, and how odd it was that it occurred under a Democrat-led government.
"The Democrats gave us the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, and now it's their responsibility to clean up their mess," said Thayer, to thunderous applause.
Quite a diverse crowd turned up—one that reflected many races, ages and sexual orientations. After the speeches, the crowd took to the Lakeview streets, marching through Boystown—even though thunder, lightning and rain began to impose on the march.
Everyone seemed to have the same reasons for being there: They felt there was nowhere else where their presence was more needed.
"What else would I be doing today? Sitting at my house watching TV?" said Margaret Adams, who was there with her partner of almost five years, Susan Johnson. "We need to be here. We need to be out in the streets, demanding equality no just in marriage, but in every aspect of life. I'm tired of being treated as a second-class citizen."
"It's two steps forward, two steps back today," said John Pembleton, a resident of Streator, Ill., who drove almost four hours to come to the rally. "This is a sad day for Californians, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel for us in Illinois. As many of the signs today have said, '5 [ states ] down, 45 to go.'"
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