5 Reminders For Straight Allies Attending The Chicago Pride Parade

By Tony Peregrin in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 9, 2017 4:07PM

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Photo by Rob Hart/ Chicagoist

The Pride Parade might seem a little straight-washed these days, with more than one million spectators drawn to Chicago's parade last year, many of them proud, loud... and heterosexual. With that in mind, we have some T (not too scalding!) for our beloved straight allies to help them navigate all the pumps and circumstance of the annual Pride Parade, which kicks off Sunday, June 25, at noon.

The Pride Parade is not here for your amusement:
LGBTQs are living our best lives on Pride Parade Sunday, with expressions of love and self-acceptance amplified by sequins, glitter, and statement T-shirts worn up and down the streets of Boystown. It’s quite a party—but as a straight ally attending the Pride Parade, try to move beyond your role as “open-minded spectator”. Show up with a homemade sign touting messages of support, consider coming in full-tilt drag (or your version of it), and keep a watchful eye out for those in need, especially when it comes to the hateful jeers of Pride protestors.

Own your straight, white, cisgender privilege:
Straight, white people are not denied housing, employment, or access to health care because of who they have sex with, so be aware of that privilege, and recognize how these forms of discrimination effect the sweating, smiling people standing around you at the parade. Let this mindset inform not only the role you play on the day of Pride, but how you interact with others every day of the year.

Stop trying to figure us out:
Be prepared to jettison all heteronormative expectations about how people present their gender. Resist the impulse to try and “figure out” if someone is transgender or a drag queen or a unicorn-in-human-form. Those games can be misconstrued, and are ultimately pointless and boring. And be sure to ask permission before taking someone’s picture, particularly if the individual is a spectator.

Do your homework:
Understand the history of the LGBTQ community’s fight for equal rights, beginning with the Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969, and how those police raids set off a national movement for LGBTQ civil equality. And don’t be deceived by appearances—realize that just because some gay boys are all swole and scantily clad while others are sashaying around looking fishy AF doesn’t mean we aren’t passionate about where we’ve been, how we got here, and where we are going in the future.

Say “Happy Pride” to absolutely everyone:
Greet every man, woman, child, and canine on the street with “Happy Pride.” On Pride Parade Sunday, those words are like invisible fairy dust with the power to make everyone smile.