Queer activists aim to ‘Take back Pride’; protest within parade

A small group of queer activists gathered to make signs and banners in Logan Square Wednesday night as part of their plan to protest against large corporate involvement in the Chicago Pride Parade, anti-gay Christian bigotry and to call out racism in Boystown.

Their key message is to, “Take back Pride,” because the parade has lost sight of its radical roots after the Stonewall Riots, they said. A banner reading “Take back Pride Queers against racism and corporate greed” will serve as the centerpiece for their action in the parade.

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Story Highlights

  • Small group of queer activists to protest corporate interests, racism, anti-gay groups at Pride
  • They say corporations exploit the LGBT community, use parade for cheap advertising
  • Related: New Pride route map, parade lineup, plans to crack down on public drinking


“We want to have an alternative message to confront corporate advertisement and to confront what Pride has become,” said Ryne Patrick Poelker, a key organizer in the group. “[Pride] has nothing to do with supporting civil rights anymore. It’s about making money.”

The group of activists pledge to mobilize an activist contingent in the parade made up of people from Occupy Chicago, the NATO protests and other actions, who take umbrage with “the corporatism” in the parade such as the presence of JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Office Maxx, PepsiCo, and how Pride has become a “big old party — which is fine,” Poelker said.

“Queers know how to party, but that’s not how it originated,” he said. “If you ask someone on the sidelines, they probably won’t be able to tell you how it all started. You can still drink and have fun without banks in your parade.”

Judy Heithmar was outraged when she heard American Airlines will be in the parade.

“Seriously? American Airlines?” she said.

Poelker asserts that corporate interests only take to Boystown in full force during Pride for the cheap advertising.

“For working class people who go to Pride, it’s about celebrating,” he said. “For people who make a lot of money, it’s about profit. They don’t give a rat’s ass about queer rights.”

They also seek to speak out against racial tensions in the Boystown neighborhood.

“..the neighborhood Boystown has been recently riddled with scapegoating on social services for homeless LGBT youth, racial profiling and flagrant business greed,” reads the description on the group’s Facebook event page.

In addition, they plan to directly confront anti-gay, religious protesters at the parade by blocking them with banners and drowning out their messages with horns and whistles.

As another alternative to partying in the streets for Pride, the activists recommend the Dyke March, which will take place in Uptown this year.

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