For nearly five decades our great city has celebrated its Pride through multiple celebrations, most especially the Chicago Pride Parade, which is reportedly the largest such event in the nation.
For all these years, the Pride Parade has been organized by a dedicated group of volunteers under the leadership of a very fine gentleman. When he and his friends started the parade all those years ago, walking the streets displaying your pride was dangerouseven life-threatening. Today it is the city's largest celebration. For that, the LGBT community owes them a huge debt of gratitude.
Since the Pride Parade is now the city's largest annual event, it is time to consider bringing the management of the event out from the private living rooms of its volunteers and into a public not-for-profit. We should create an open and transparent venue for the entire community to be involved in not just the Pride Parade, which takes place on one day, but to organize Pride Month, with multiple celebrations and activities.
This new group could be managed by a diverse board of directors that represents the entire LGBT community, our allies, and the businesses and residents that graciously host our public events in their neighborhoods. The group would be able to solicit corporate sponsorships, and organize events throughout the entire City of Chicago, and perhaps also the suburbs, or even downstate communities.
Once this group is formed and organizes its first Pride celebration, it should announce its first grand marshal as Mr. Richard Pfeiffer, to whom we owe so many thanks for his years of service.
Thank you, Richard.
Clint W. Sabin
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PRIDEChicago (Pride Parade coordinators) respond
We want to make a few corrections to statements made by Clint Sabin in a recent letter to the editor:
FIRST, Mr Sabin congratulates our entire team for our many years of producing the parade. However, most of the parade team ( 70 + people) were not around in the early days of the parade, but are in fact individuals from diverse communities and backgrounds who have been involved as volunteers for the last several years. But thanks for the congratulations anyway.
SECOND, Mr Sabin suggests that a new, larger pride group could be formed to "......organize Pride Month with multiple celebrations and activities."
However, there are already close to 100 different social, cultural, athletic and political events that take place each year during Pride Month in various areas of the metro Chicago area. Besides the Pride Parade, the events include three festivals (one on Halsted; one in Andersonville and another Rogers Park); three choral concerts, two evening and daytime runs, dances, plays, workshops, picnics, book signings and film nights just to name a few.
Each of these events are organized by different organizations, groups and individuals from diverse segments of the LGBTQA communities. These groups make their own decisions on the type of event they want to organize, rather than having a central Pride group organize and decide the content of their event for them.
However, if any person, group or organization wants to organize an event that is currently not on the June Pride Month calendar, whether it be a festival, a concert, a dance or a street march, they have the option of organizing that event and placing it on the calendar.
Although we coordinate the parade, we also compile a June Pride Month Calendar of events from information sent to us by these organizations and individuals. The June Pride Month Calendar is featured on our web site; in our Pride Guide booklet, and in ads featuring the calendar that we place in community publications. The calendar reaches thousands of potential attendees/participants. Besides the publicity that we do, each event organizer also has their own publicity methods to spread the word.
THIRD, Mr. Sabin also states that a new, larger Pride group could "....solicit corporate sponsorship."
However, the Pride Parade, as well as many of the major events that already take place each year during Pride Month have corporate sponsorship.
While there is currently some anti-corporate sentiment in this country, some would agree that corporate sponsorship is generally needed to produce major events, whether they
be parades, festivals, concerts etc.
We PRIDEChicago (the parade organizers) have local, as well as corporate sponsors who register entries in the parade that feature their own LGBTQA employee groups. Some place ads in the Pride Guide booklet, while others sponsor restrooms or barricades for the parade route or help fund other parade costs such as the City parade fee, security officers and insurance.
FOURTH. The City of Chicago parade ordinance states that individuals, groups, or organizations that have been organizing a parade for five years or more around a certain theme, location and/or date have first dibs on receiving a parade permit for a given parade. To ensure that we receive the permit for the parade every year, we follow the rules of the city parade ordinance. We also work closely with city departments.
However that doesn't prevent any other individual or group from coordinating another parade or march or for that matter, any other type of event during Pride Month, History Month or any other time of the year. Other cities stage multiple LGBTQ parades, marches, festivals etc. and in Chicago, several ethnic groups stage multiple fests and parades too.
LAST: The 2016 Pride registration and information packet was sent to our mailing list at the end of February. Since the City has asked us to shorten the parade by reducing the number of parade entries, potential parade participants have been registering at an accelerated pace this year to secure a spot in the parade ( over 40% of the spots have been filled). We are advising groups or businesses that have not registered yet to do so soon since available spots are filling up faster than usual.
We are looking forward to another successful Pride celebration.
(including Richard Pfeiffer, Tim Frye, & 70+ volunteer team)