Activists petition to keep Pride Parade in Boystown

Photo: Gerald Farinas.

Photo: Gerald Farinas.

With Lakeview residents pressuring Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and James Cappleman (46th) to move the annual Chicago Pride Parade to a downtown location, members of activist group Uptown Uprising have begun a petition to keep the event in Lakeview and its Boystown enclave.

Tunney announced in comments after the parade that he’s open to moving the annual street festival to a location in downtown Chicago—like Columbus Dr. or Michigan Ave. Proponents of the move are circulating a petition begun by former Human Rights Campaign organizer Curtis Bumgarner-Cookson.

Bumgarner-Cookson told Chicago Phoenix after the Sunday event, “Now that Chicago’s parade attracts over a million people, it only makes sense that Boystown no longer can contain it. Michigan Ave. or Columbus Dr. would be better venue choices as they give the LGBT community more exposure, and are more centrally located and accessible.”

But not everyone is in agreement.

Sidetrack owner Art Johnston told Windy City Times that moving the parade would doom it, calling such a move as possibly “the end of the parade.” He told the legacy newspaper that the parade is important to the heritage and life of Boystown.

With residents pushing Tunneywho is seeking re-electionand shouts in favor of a venue change, Uptown Uprising has stepped forward to defend Boystown as the proper location for the parade. A petition to keep the parade where it currently is was begun by activist Ryne Poelker.

Ryne Poelker. Photo: Gerald Farinas.

Ryne Poelker. Photo: Gerald Farinas.

Poelker explained to Chicago Phoenix, “The parade should stay where it was foundedin the gayborhoods. If [the density of its viewing participants] is an issue, then expand it to Andersonville. The parade generates much to local economies and employment. Despite the loud complainers, many other residents, including myself, like being able to walk to the parade route. [Removing it from the gayborhoods] would be a loss to both businesses and community residents who enjoy where it is.”

The Uptown Uprising petition goes further by charging that there are unsaid motivators behind the calls to move the parade. Poelker says resident complaints of more noise, more vice, and more mess from the parade are just excuses to protect the expectations of a neighborhood made up of the economically-privileged.

“I see the complaints to move the parade as part of a larger trend to suburbanize Lakeview,” he says. “As someone who has been attacked in Lakeview last year, I understand the concern to lower crime. However, the approach that some residents have taken has been unhealthy, ineffective and resembles a paranoid white suburb.”

Poelker has called out these residents as NIMBYs, which stands for “Not In My Backyard”—people who would attempt to exorcise the problems of the community by kicking certain people out, like parade participants.

“Rather than address crime at the roots, like advocating for a higher minimum wage, or re-opening Chicago’s mental health clinics, residents just want to keep kicking the problem down the road with a short-term fix, pushing things into someone else’s backyard,” Poelker said. “[Residents in these gentrified communities and blogs that support them] have attacked services, SROs, shelters and even church food pantries over the years. Now they’re after the Pride parade. It has gotten to the point where I see them as a force of economic violence rather than safety.”

As of the publication of this article, the petition for moving the parade has garnered 55 signatures while the Uptown Uprising petition against has attained 300 signatures.

Gerald Farinas

About Gerald Farinas

An Edgewater Beach resident, Gerry is managing editor and interim editor-in-chief of Chicago Phoenix. He is concurrently an Evanston-based social services professional and media consultant. For more info: www.geraldfarinas.com.

There are 9 comments

  1. Calvin

    I think the Gay Pride Parade should stay in Lakeview and Uptown and be extended south not north. Since gays live on the South and West sides, too, the parade will be easier to attend.

  2. GetOverIt

    Yea Lakeview residents just want to be safer in one of the safest neighborhoods in the city. They don’t hate minorities, they just hate minorities who loiter! Like George Zimmerman, they just want to keep people safe! It has nothing to do with race. YEAH RIGHT. Sorry to sound “hateful” and “hurtful” for poor little Melinda but these are awful people who have waged a war on the most vulnerable people on the Northside in the name of safety. Seniors evicted from SRO’s. Food pantries under scrutiny. You can’t get more racist and more reactionary than the people in Lakeview

  3. Robert Jones

    They don’t want it moved because it show proof that 1 million people didn’t attend the parade. It’s physically impossible for 1 million people to fit in the sidewalks. But hey it sells booze for the do gooders.

  4. NorthSure

    Race is irrelevant! People just don’t like groups of men standing on a corner because of the music they listen to. That’s all. Geesh. Quit being so hateful to residents who try to shut down homeless shelters. So hateful. Be loving like the Lakeview residents who complain about churches hosting LGBT youth centers

  5. facepalm1

    lol people have run out of things to be radical about,man. i mean, a bunch of white people get bent because a bunch of white people crushed a cop car and some guy in uptown decides that means the white people hate minorities and the poors. lol. heard it allnow.

    1. Northsure

      Race is irrelevant! People just don’t like groups of men standing on a corner because of the music they listen to. That’s all. Geesh. Quit being so hateful to residents who try to shut down homeless shelters. So hateful. Be loving like the Lakeview residents who complain about churches hosting LGBT youth centers

  6. Miranda D.

    I hope the parade will stay here but I cannot sign this man’s petition. It is so hateful and hurtful. That is not what pride is about.

  7. RSN71

    I would love to see the parade stay in Boystown, however something’s needs to be done in that neighborhood about getting rid of people loitering on the streets. Not just during Pride but every weekend the “thugs” loitering on the street make residents and visitors feel unsafe. Forcing them into the bars is even worse (they did this last Pride Sunday) – bouncer friends told me “it’s like a bunch of animals – untamed and no money.” I saw several fights break out and watched cops flirt with the girls loitering and ignoring the bar fight that is not even 15 feet from their police car. That neighborhood needs cleaned up, again.

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