By Mason Dowling
Chicago celebrated its 42nd annual Gay Pride Parade Sunday, in honor of June Pride Month, a celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) culture.
The parade and celebration, centered in Boystown, stretches from Broadway Avenue down to Diversey Avenue in Lincoln Park, with each street lined with celebrating Chicagoans and those visiting the city to be a part of one of the country’s largest LGBT celebrations.
“It’s something to experience,” said Jake Evans, one of the many party-goers. “It’s about doing what you want to do, not letting people get you down. Really being yourself.”
“You can come and just express who you are,” agreed Deraj and Donald who, along with several friends, were celebrating their third time coming to Chicago’s Pride festivities. “You don’t have to hide yourself. It’s a good experience, everyone should enjoy it.”
Vendors lined the streets, selling flags, buttons, stickers, and numerous other commodities for the celebrating crowds.
Unfortunately, not all groups were at the parade to promote diversity.
Celebrations were dampened by protests from Westboro Baptist Church, the anti-gay group lead by the Rev. Fred Phelps.
Five members of the church were present at the rally, waving signs while surrounded by blockades and over a dozen Chicago police Officers.
Westboro has gained notoriety for its anti-gay and anti-war pickets, some of which include protesting at the funerals of deceased soldiers.
Counter-protests at Sunday’s parade surrounded the church group, preaching tolerance while dancing to cheers from the rest of the crowd.
“Everybody is free to be themselves,” Deraj continued. “You can’t judge other people by who they like…you can’t dampen our parade. It’s 10 people versus half of Chicago.”