Chicago Pride: A celebration of equality
Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
This past weekend across the U.S. and notably in Chicago, people of all backgrounds came out to celebrate equal rights during Pride weekend. Since 1970, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community has been coming to Halsted Street on the last weekend of June to show their support and --as the name suggests-- their pride.
The month is considered Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and the community had even more to commemorate as there were many progressive changes made in the public and in the government this year.
The Pentagon celebrated Pride weekend for the first time this year. In a keynote speech, the Pentagon’s top lawyer said, “As recently as three years ago, it would have been hard for many of us, including me, to believe that in the year 2012, a gay man or woman in the armed forces could be honest about their sexual orientation.”
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed in September of 2011 and had been considered a policy against homosexuals serving in the military. With pressure mainly from youth and celebrities through phone calls and Twitter, Congress got rid of the restrictions. Now it is up to the discretion of the individual to inform their peers of their sexual orientation.
Another milestone was the formation of the It Gets Better project; an online-based movement founded after multiple gay teenagers committed suicide in response to bullying. Originally the plan was for older gay men to convey the message of improvement with age, but the project has been a huge success via YouTube and its own website. People of all sexual orientations and backgrounds post videos and words of support, informing viewers that their hardships will get easier with time. The publicity and organization of the community has been a huge stepping-stone for the LGBT youth.
Finally, in May, Obama became the first president to announce his support for gay rights. On Good Morning America, Obama said, "I've always been adamant that Gay and Lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally.”
The U.S. responded with shock because his statement was not predicted by anyone. Later the same week, Vice President Joe Biden stated he was personally comfortable with same-sex marriage on NBC’s Meet the Press. With the government (both state and national) making significant decisions about marriage and adoption, this was a monumental time for the LGBT community.
The Pride festivities this year were particularly joyous due to all of the progress in equality across the nation. Chicago has been a liberal city for decades and although the rest of the country does not evenly share the same enthusiasm for gay rights, the city is setting a great example.
Chicago even has the first officially recognized gay region in the U.S -- a specific part of the North Side of the city, named Boys Town. Every person who walks into this neighborhood knows they have entered the friendly area with rainbow posts lining the streets, and during pride week there are tutus, glitter bras, and a multitude of rainbow flags to be seen. The weekend consists of many fashion shows, pet parades, parties, and the entire area is closed off for the various festivities. There are no questions asked, no hostile remarks, or discrimination. Anyone and everyone are welcome; people are excited about equality.
This year has had a particular amount of historical moments for the LGBT community -- making pride even rowdier than usual. Seeing the government progress since 2010, those in favor of same-sex marriage have a lot to celebrate and want to show their opinion in numbers. Halsted Street was packed to the brim with people showing their support. Weekends like these are landmarks in the movement towards equal rights among the public and via the government.