Reflections on Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade

Many cities had Gay Pride parades on Sunday – Chicago certainly had a large and lively one. I watched from Broadway. Several things struck me.

1.) Spectators, even those who were extra happy from alcohol, were amazingly well behaved.

2.) The uniform for straight marchers, such as the mayor and a ton of other politicians, seemed to be khakis and white shirts or polos – very 1955  (here but not queer)

3.) It was very moving to see police, the teacher’s union, the military, local schools and a few others able to participate.  This would never have been possible in the not-too-distant past.

4.) The police tried very hard, even those who were uncomfortable. The women cops accepted and wore beads. Not surprisingly, the men did not.

And the strangest for me………….

Standing in front of us was a huge man (packing crate big) tending to a baby in a stroller while his wife sat ahead, totally engrossed in the parade and apparently connected to some city job. The big guy regularly ordered people away from jostling the stroller as they wobbled along the sidewalk.  He insisted some smoker go away. He enforced rules about street crossing. He turned to us at least a half dozen times to explain, “my son is in the stroller.”  (He is lucky if his son hasn’t lost any of his hearing from the deafening cheering.)  I didn’t think anything about Big Guy at first. Then, when he got aggressive over minor bumps, I wondered.  When he had to catch every bright bead (his reach was like a fishing net) flung in our direction and smugly hand it off to someone else, I wondered more. When he kept talking about his son like the word ‘son’ was his mantra, I stopped wondering.  I think big Guy is a new breed of scared.  He attended the parade, didn’t make any homophobic jokes, and mostly kept his cool.  But his anxiety showed itself in unending heterosexuality – a very masculine, protective, aggressive stereotypical maleness.  But he did attend!!!!

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