Today was the first day I’ve ever walked in a Pride Parade. My greatest love and thanks go out to all the Northwestern people who helped organise us together under (well, behind) one banner, and to the Parade organisers and marshals for making it happen.
It was amazing. I’ve rarely felt so energized and so hyper, but the huge crowds, the cheering and the good weather made the two-hour walking/waving/shouting a lot easier.
Yet, despite all the hype and happiness and joy that surrounded the parade, I couldn’t help but think that my presence here — and this parade — was filled with history and politics, a reflection of both how much things have changed and how much legacy I was passed because of my participation. I couldn’t help but remember how, a half-century ago, my existence and this parade would both have been persecuted and criminalised.
Every year before Pride, I hear calls from activists and concerned participants that Pride isn’t just a celebration and festival, but also a political and activist outpouring founded upon a history of suffering and struggle. Walking in Chicago’s Pride made me feel that in a way that I have never felt before. As I waved my rainbow flag and smiled at everyone along the parade, I realised that everything I was doing — from my very presence at the parade to the Northwestern shirt I was wearing to the community I moved amongst — was only possible because of the activism and sacrifices of so many people in the past.
There are people who’ve walked Pride whose names I’ll never know and whose faces I’ll never see. And I have each and every one of them to thank for my experiences today.
Happy Pride. #PrideParade