Fashion Sense Cools at Pride
By Tim State on Jun 24, 2007 11:56PM
The annual Pride Parade roared through the streets of Lakeview this afternoon. Through its 38 years, the parade has become more corporate and mainstream. Channels 2, 5, 7, and 9 had a presence, as did every major bank in the city, Jewel, Whole Foods, Pepsico, AT&T, and many other corporations. Former NBA star John Amaechi, the first NBA player to come out as a gay man, welcomed the crowd as the parade’s grand marshall. A flock of politicians also led the parade. Cook County State’s Attorney walked behind his proudly displayed banner that read, simply, his name, “Dick Devine.” If that doesn’t get votes from the gays, then we don’t know what will.
While the infusion of cash from corporate sponsors brings larger floats and more disco balls, the go-go boys have leaned toward a more conservative fashion sense in recent years with fewer ass-less chaps, jock straps and g-strings. Years ago, Chicagoist could count on the crowd to put their best breast forward. Today, however, the best breast is often left to one or two rogue lesbians. Even the Dykes on Bikes now opt for a little cover (sun protection, maybe), and box cut hot pants are all the rage on the boys these days, particularly when combined with glitter.
The first Pride Parade was held in 1970 on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village, New York. The drag queens were mourning the untimely death of Judy Garland on a hot, muggy, June night, and when the New York Police conducted a raid on the popular gay bar Stonewall Inn, the queens fought back. For several days, gay men, lesbian women, and drag queens rioted in the streets, declaring that you don’t mess with a man in heels. Since then Pride parades around the world have been a mix of political rallying, camp pageantry, and a day of celebrating community.
When we saw a float glide by this afternoon with a diva sitting in a coffin waving to the crowd as she promoted a funeral home: “You can take it with you: Pride,” we knew everyone had shown up for the Parade. Well, everyone except for the Republicans. But no need to tell them; they weren’t missed.