So over the rainbow

Posted on June 26, 2012

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A curtain of rainbow flags obscures most of our view of the beginning of the Pride Parade.

A sea of rainbow flags and sweaty, scantily clad people awaited our approach to Belmont and Halsted. And we were no exception. After picking my friend Emma up from the Belmont Blue Line stop and bemoaning the realization (one of us — the native urban dweller — bemoaning more than the other) that there would be no space on any eastbound Belmont bus (thanks, CTA) and that every cab was taken, we walked the three and a half miles to the gathering of nearly a million people who were waiting for the 2012 Pride Parade. I was a sweaty mess and halfway burnt to a crisp.

As we approached the crowd, less and less clothing became apparent. Tutus and rainbow paint seemed to be the attire of choice among observers. I even saw several women don the ever-classic masking-tape-over-their-nipples outfit (although I didn’t see any men attempt a similar number with a wad of duct tape). When Emma and I tried to get closer to the parade route in a foolish attempt to actually see the proceedings, we were basically ingested by the crowd. It was then that the lack of clothing made so much sense. I’ve never felt so many different sweaty body parts up against so many parts of my body. Yes, everyone was in good spirits but, for me, I grow wary of the prospect of being poked, prodded, rubbed against, brushed upon and borderline molested very quickly.

As parade-goers pushed past one another in a chorus of “excuse me”s, I couldn’t help but think that if those who decided to wear next to nothing had only thought to dowse themselves in Crisco or some kind of olive oil, the prospect of sliding through the throngs of sweat-dripping people might have been made a little easier.

When the parade started and I could see the very tops of dancers and the top halves of floats above the blanket of waving rainbow flags, Emma and I thought — again, foolishly — that our thousand closest friends would cease undulating for a few minutes to actually watch the procession. But no. Spectators seemed to move faster and need to be just about anywhere else other than standing at the corner of the street with our terrible view. Needing a break from the claustrophobia, we cleared our throats and piped up our best “excuse me”s to snake our way out of the crowd and eventually find a curb on a side street to rest.

The aftermath of the parade on Broadway. It looked like a landfill exploded all over Lakeview.

The parade had been going on nearly two hours, and by that time we basically were waiting for it to be over. Sitting on Briar Street (my apartment was on the other side of Broadway, so we had to wait it out before we could cross), we got a fairly decent view of the Broadway leg of the route. And, aside from a few exquisitely done-up drag queens and my most-wished-for-best-friend-in-the-world Terri Hemmert DJing on a flatbed, most of the floats consisted of rented trolley buses with a poster on the side and people dancing in them. The last several hours of the parade started to feel a bit corporate and unoriginal, especially when the Google and Chipotle floats rounded the corner.

Our group of two became six when we met up with my friend John and several of his friends. Our little fellowship decided to boldly shove our way through the crowds once again, procure some alcohol and forge ahead to my apartment. Unfortunately, that stint took several hours while we waited on a little patch of Broadway (we found a spot that was actually out of the way, in the shade, and had a good view) for the last dancing half-naked person to mamba through.

The end result of the day was that Chicago’s GLBT community celebrated its many facets and faces, straight people celebrated their presence in the city and for making Lakeview such a vibrant neighborhood, and people of every sexual persuasion celebrated the fact they didn’t have to clean up after the mess, an unfortunate task that fell to the inmates at the Cook County Jail. Bravo Chicago!

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Posted in: Lakeview