A month's worth of Pride festivities culminated June 25 with the 2023 Chicago Pride Parade, winding once again through the streets of Uptown, Lake View and Lincoln Park. More than 200 entrants took part, among them major politicians, local businesses and organizations and large corporations.
Despite a brief torrential downpour, the procession nevertheless went on as planned, with the energy from both the marchers and the spectators remaining high through the afternoon.
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson was among the politicians toward the parade's beginning. He waved and spoke to spectators in the crowd, and was received with an abundance of shouts and claps.
Dykes on Bikes were received with huge screams and cheers from the crowd, especially at every rev of the engine. Multiple groups participated, among them Organized Chaos.
Among early marchers were Chicago elementary schools, including both teachers and students. Their procession was complete with a yellow school bus decorated with hand-made signs, including one that read "Queer Kids Belong."
The first of the big party floats was from Enjoy Illinois, the official Illinois tourism office. Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted St., boasted one of the most extravagant floats in the parade, shimmering brightly in the sun with music played loudly from the back of the float. Dancers and performers riled up the crowd.
Roscoe's, 3356 N. Halsted St., similarly sponsored an over-the-top float themed around kids' toys and games. Marchers dressed as glittery crayons posed and danced for the spectators, and drag queens waved from the top of the float. House music played loudly from the float as they passed.
Howard Brown Health was also included in the procession, with marchers holding signs such as, "Queer Liberation in Healthcare." NASCAR featured a car promoting its upcoming race downtown July 1-2; that event has received mixed reactions from the public and from businesses affected by the race's route.
The Chicago Bulls sponsored a large float as well as marchers who handed out T-shirts and hats to the crowd. Karamo Brown, known for his role on the modern seasons of Queer Eye, rode a double-decker bus decorated with advertisements for the Karamo Show.
Among the most sizable entries in the parade was the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches. More than 20 churches demonstrated their commitments to the LGBTQ+ community. One marcher shouted loud sentiments such as, "Happy Pride! God is love."
The parade ended with a float for Alcala's Western Wear, complete with a gazebo, live music and dancing.
The 2023 parade felt especially important for the LGBTQ+ community, as it has been met with oppositional sentiment in statehouses throughout the country, according to several political officials and candidates, as well as organization and community leaders, who gathered prior to the Parade for a celebration at Fat Cat Bar, 4840 N. Broadway. The event was sponsored by LGBTQ+ advocacy Equality Illinois. [ Images at www.windycitytimes.com/lgbt/Leaders-join-Equality-Illinois-for-morning-Pride-Parade-reception-/75217.html . ]
Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, said he looked forward to the kickoff reception every year.
Johnson said, "I think the parade is this remarkable even, [which' brings together thousands of marchers and a million spectators. So to have a place for community leaders and elected officials and the media to start [the day], and make sure we understand the importance of this day, is really special."
He described Pride Month as a time in which the community bands together to harness both its collective strengths and joys, adding, "At the heart of the Pride festivities, including the parade, is that we have decided to fight back against the tools that have been used to oppress us, including shame and stigma."
Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza was also feeling the energy of the day. She said, "I think [Chicago's] parade is the best one in the country frankly, and as an Illinoisan, you feel a special sense of pride of being part of a state that is such a stalwart, protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community."
Cook County Board Commissioner Scott Britton, 14th district, spoke about how much he enjoys attending the Pride Parade every year. He said, "As a politician, and having been in eight elections, my favorite day is Pride because I feel like it's one of the few things we do that is [almost] universally positive."
Justice Cynthia Y. Cobbs of the First District Appellate Court, said, "This is a great celebration of everybody's right to love whoever you want to love in this great country, in this great state, in this great city of Chicago."
Cobbs further reflected on the responsibilities of those on the bench toward the LGBTQ+ community.
"We're always as judges looking to protect everybody's rights, and to make certain that justice is served for everybody, no matter who they are, no matter who they love, no matter what part of the city they come from," Cobbs said. "That's what our job is to do, and that's what we… [have] taken an oath of office to do everydayto administer justice to everybody that comes before us fairly and efficiently."
Governor JB Pritzkerwho got social media buzzing by catching and downing a jello shot during the parade, according to numerous reportsacknowledged how far Illinois has come in protecting and empowering the lives and rights of LGBTQ+ people. But he also recognized how far the community and its supporters still have to go, especially with regards to the GOP's targeting of transgender individuals.
"The arguments they make against LGBTQ families and children are not just obnoxious and wrong; they're anti-American," Pritzker said. "We're here today to say, if you want to stand up for America, if you want to stand up for patriotism, if you want to be for freedom, you ought to stand with the LGBTQ community and stand up for the Pride Parade."
More photos to come.