Jun 25, 2023 - Things to Do

Photos: Capturing Chicago's Pride Parade over the years

A row of people smile at the camera waving rainbow flags at the Chicago Pride Parade.

Last year's Pride Parade. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images

The 2023 Chicago Pride Parade kicks off today at noon in Northalsted and is expected to draw tens of thousands of people.

Why it matters: "It will be one of the largest Pride parades in many years," coordinator Tim Frye told Windy City Times. "There will be a recognition of the anti-LGBTQ actions that have taken place in the past few months directed at our community."

The big picture: Human Rights Watch this month issued its first state of emergency in response to the hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been proposed nationally, especially against the transgender community.

  • Transgender, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming youth are losing access to life saving medical care, comprehensive education and safe spaces, according to the report.

Zoom in: Diane Alexander White, whose street photography is on display at a new exhibit at the National Hellenic Museum, has documented several of Chicago's Pride Parades since 1976, when her UIC professor assigned the class to cover the event.

  • White's photography focuses on Chicagoans gathering together.
  • "I hope that my photos motivate people to get out there and support each other no matter what your endeavor is as long as it's positive, good, happy, inclusive," White tells Axios. "That's what gathering together is all about."

White shared with us some favorite photos from past parades:

Man with mustache smiles, cigarette in hand, and has his arms around a man on each side of him. The man on the left has a mustache and plaid shirt, the man on the right is bare-chested with an open mouth and gap tooth.
"The 1976 parade marched on the south side of Broadway while traffic and parked cars traveled up the north side of the street," White says. The man on the right was named Ray Ray. He asked her to take his photo, White remembers. Photo courtesy of Diane Alexander White

Flashback: The early parades had a "grassroots DIY" vibe, White recalls. It was mostly gay men who lived in the area.

  • The '76 parade was only seven years after the Stonewall uprising and still decades away from legalized same-sex marriage and other rights.
A dark-haired person in sunglasses and a tank top smiles at a friend, a  person with just a sports bra and buzz cut holds a camcorder at the photographer, and a person with a blond buzz cut, tank top and beads has one arm up and mouth open, and a drink in the other hand.
"The Gay Pride Parade in 2003 was pre-smartphone when old tech camcorders came out to record the event," White explains. "The momentum was building toward gay marriage which was 10 years away." Photo courtesy of Diane Alexander White
Person in wedding vile, black bowtie, and shirt that reads "Legalize Gay" has arms around a person in baseball cap, sunglasses.
The Gay Pride Parade in 2011 was two years away from legalized gay marriage in Illinois. Photo courtesy of Diane Alexander White
A float covered in green and purple astroturf with a paper maiche rainbow with people in front of it, men are shirtless and all are wearing beads. There's a purple Stoli vodka logo.
White selected this photo from 2011 to show how the Pride Parade was much more mainstream than the early days, with alcohol sponsorships and politicians using it to shake hands and drum up votes. Photo courtesy of Diane Alexander White

Go deeper: Check out this year's parade route. See more of White's Pride photos.


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