Amid the glitter and rainbows that are the signature of past Pride Parades, a political undercurrent buzzed among those marching in the 49th Pride Parade in Chicago this year, said Kate Webster, who served as the parade monitor for Rush University Medical Center and helped recruit more than 100 volunteers to march with, and ride on, the Rush float.
“We’ve got a conservative political system right now, and gay people are much more visible, and trans people are coming out,” said Webster. “I just felt like it was a beautiful party, and it was celebratory, and it was political.”
Signs reading, “I’m A Trans Kid, Free Hugs,” “Stop Islamaphobia,” and “All Families Matter,” were among those that adorned the sidelines and floats of the annual parade, said Webster, who serves as director of student diversity and multicultural affairs at Rush.
A trans woman also marched with the Rush team, and Webster said they received a lot of love.
“It was amazing actually being in the parade itself; it didn’t feel crazy, it felt very celebratory, very positive,” she said. “A friend of mine asked me if it was just people who had nothing else to do, or were ogling, and it felt like more people were LGBT or very strong allies.”
As chair of the Forest Park Diversity Commission, Webster said she plans to organize a formal Pride Parade in Forest Park in June next year.
This year, on June 30, there will be a “Forest Park Family Pride Day” along Madison Street, featuring LGBTQ family-friendly activities. Some businesses will donate a percentage of their sales to benefit the nonprofit Illinois Safe School Alliance, which promotes safety and support for students who identify as LGBTQ in the state. The effort was organized by Jessica Combe Luciano, founder of Creativita, 7512 Madison St.
“On the business side, having a sticker or placard saying, ‘I’m An Ally’ or ‘LGBT Ally’ or something, just so there’s an awareness,” Webster said in reply to how Forest Park could be better allies of those who identify as LGBTQ. “When I walk in with my wife, we will more likely spend money in those businesses that are supportive.”