- Nic F. Anderson
48th Annual Chicago's Pride Parade
On June 25th people from all over broke out their pride flags, glitter, and donned their rainbow outfits for the 48th annual Chicago Gay Pride Parade. This year, Chicago's parade grand marshal was Lea DeLaria, best known for her standup comedy and work in Orange is the New Black.
The parade kicked off at 12 p.m. and lasted until about 4 p.m. The floats and their dancers went all out; tossing beads, stickers, temporary tattoos, information for health, etc. According to several news organizations, there was an estimated number of over one million people in attendance and per the Chicago Police Department, there were not any major incidents reported.
Pride Parades are a celebration but haven't always been that way. During the 1950s and 1960s, the LGBTQ+ community was not on good terms with the New York City Police Department due to the anti-gay legal system that was in place. Because of this, many LGBTQ+ people were not welcome in bars and raids of LGBTQ+ clubs were common routine; they were targeted and forced to close.
They originated as a protest after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. It began with a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a known gay club located on Christopher Street in New York City, on June 28, 1969. What should have been a "routine raid" of a club serving liquor without a license, turned violent - and fast.
During the raid, the tension between the NYPD and crowd broke. Marsha P. Johnson is said to have thrown the first brick at a New York City police officer that started the riot. There are some accounts that differ as to who threw the first punch that started the riot. Martin Duberman, author of "Stonewall," said in an interview with Time magazine, "In terms of what happened that night, it really depends on who you talk to, and that includes the people who were actually there."
He spoke about an account of eyewitnesses he spoke to that "a lesbian actually began the rioting by striking out at a policeman who was mauling her."
In the same interview, he said that he heard activist Sylvia Rivera say that one of the people to throw the first punch was Tammy Novak, who was fighting a police officer when she was being thrown into a police car.
Whoever threw the first punch started a movement. The raid at Stonewall became violent; civilians were being arrested and the crowd and surrounding neighbors began throwing bottles, bricks and stilettos at police officers in protest of the raid. The protest and riot lasted from June 28th until July 1st, 1969.
The following weeks and months gay rights organizations and newspapers were formed and started the gay rights movement; most of these grassroots organizations were led by trans women.
The following year, pride parades began popping up in several cities in the United States as a form of protest and a declaration of visibility, and continue to flourish in cities across the world today.
Updated on June 4, 2019.