Hundreds gathered for the Chicago Disability Pride parade and festival in the Loop on July 19.
This year marked the 11th anniversary for the event. A tradition started in Chicago, Disability Pride seeks to change the way people perceive disability and to celebrate disability as a part of human diversity. Chicago Disability Pride has inspired other similar parades throughout the United States and around the world.
See additional photo spread at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/photospreadthumbs.php .
The parade began at Van Buren Street and Plymouth Court, near Harold Washington Library, and traveled up Dearborn Street, ending in a festival in Daley Plaza.
Gary Arnolda disability advocate and public-relations coordinator at Access Living of Metropolitan Chicagoserved as the grand marshal for the event.
"This parade is all about celebrating our identity as people with disabilities," Arnold said. "Since the Americans with Disabilities Act, the perception of disabilities has changed from one that is very medicalized to one of civil rights and community. The parade is a time to come together and celebrate our community."
The Disability Pride Parade Planning Committee presented its annual Dan Van Hecke Award for leadership and service to the disability community to Tekki Lomnicki, a Chicago performer, playwright and director.
"The performing arts and storytelling are important to bringing people together, disabled and non-disabled," Lomnicki said.
Among the festivals many attendees was Scherezade Espinoza, who recently participated in the Ms. Wheelchair Illinois pageant. Espinoza won the Miss Congeniality 2014 and People's Choice awards at the pageant.
"I participated to show my friends that you can be disabled and still rock it," Espinoza said.
More than 40 organizations participated in Disability Pride, including an array of civic and advocacy organizations. The festival included performances from Collective Soul, Vaughn Demeanor and Momenta.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn also spoke at the festival, saying, "People with disabilities are our family, and we're all in this together."
See coverage of last year's event at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Disability-Pride-marks-10-years-in-Chicago/43774.html .