CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s always festive, sometimes outrageous, but this year’s Pride Parade is also tinged with reflection of the 1969 police raids at New York’s Stonewall Inn and how many believe it sparked the nationwide fight for gay rights.
Stonewall’s significance is the theme of Chicago’s 50th annual Pride Parade, marking Stonewall’s 50th anniversary and the activists who rose up.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot spoke to an enthusiastic crowd at a Chicago Public Health Department LGBTQ outreach event also commemorating Stonewall’s impact.
“In one voice they said ‘we count and we matter’. While it’s undeniable that we’ve made enormous progress over the past half century … we still have so much further to go,” she said.
Lightfoot will be this year’s parade grand marshal, participating with her wife and daughter.
“It’s a great honor. I’m excited,” she said.
Rick Schlattman came out in 1981 at a time when being openly gay cost people jobs, friends and family.
“I remember when Mayor Jane Byrne was in the parade the first time. That was the first time a Chicago mayor was in the parade and that was huge,” Schlattman said.
The parade has grown, not only in spectators, but in length since the first, winding its way through the Boystown section of Lakeview for more than two miles this year. As always, city officials say security is a top concern. One safety measure is markers to help spectators pinpoint their location when calling 911.
One Boystown nightclub employee expects it will be packed.
“It’s supposed to be at least 3,000 to our club so far,” Marcellus Shields said about Fantasy nightclub.
The parade kicks off Sunday at noon at Montrose and Broadway. Road closures will begin around 8 a.m.