Chicago Lakeside Pride Freedom Band celebrated a 30-year legacy of music, visibility and pride at Northeastern Illinois University on July 27. A part of the Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles, the Freedom Band played an array of music, including "Sweet Home Chicago," "Born This Way" and "I'm Coming Out."
The performance was also a farewell concert for Freedom Band Director Christy Zurcher, who led the band for 10 years. Zurcher's leadership culminated in one of the largest Freedom Bands ever in this year's Chicago Pride Parade.
"I really love Lakeside Pride and love this band," Zurcher said to Windy City Times. "I started with 40 members and this last Pride Parade we marched with 65 members. We've had lots of growth and increased our visibility."
In addition to performing great music, the Lakeside Pride Freedom Band creates connections. For trumpet player Andrew Johnston, the band helps build community. "It creates a sense of belonging to be part of an all-encompassing band," he told Windy City Times.
Trombonist Brandon Strawn echoed these thoughts: "I joined the band when I moved to Chicago back in 2008, and it's how I feel I became part of the LGBT community."
Honoring the vision of the original Chicago Gay Pride Band, the Freedom Band participates in many LGBTQ events and causes, from marching in area pride parades and in Springfield to partnering with advocacy groups like American Veterans for Equal Rights. The Freedom Band is an inductee of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.
Photos and text by Jonathan Jones