‘Great to be back’: Chicago Pride Parade returns amid worries over LGBTQ+ rights

People were thrilled about the return of the Pride Parade after two years of pandemic-related cancellations, but many also worried about the Supreme Court moving to restrict gay rights after its ruling Friday on abortion.

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Parade-goers cheer and wave flags Sunday during the Chicago Pride Parade.

Parade-goers cheer and wave flags Sunday during the Chicago Pride Parade.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The Chicago Pride Parade returned Sunday after cancellations the past two years due to the COVID pandemic, with thousands flocking to the North Side for a celebration that’s held in late June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots that touched off the Gay Rights Movement.

“It feels great to be back after two years,” said Courtney Rhodes, 39, who said the parade is his favorite event of the year and that he was attending his fourth Pride Parade. “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”

Sayra Caldron, 49, said this was her first Pride Parade in 15 years. She’d gone the first time with her brother, who is gay.

“It meant so much to go with my brother 15 years ago, and it’s so special to be here today,” Caldron said.

She was also happy to share in the joy with her nephew Javier, who was visiting from Mexico.

Courtney Graham, who was attending her first Pride Parade, said she was overwhelmed.

“It’s amazing to be here,” Graham said. “We made it through the last two years. and it’s time to celebrate.”

Many also expressed worry and anger over Friday’s Supreme Court decision overturning abortion rights granted in Roe v. Wade. There were banners that read “Reproductive Rights Are Human Rights,” “Bans Off Our Bodies,” “Hands Off Our Rights” and “Overturn Roe? Hell no!”

Holding a sign declaring, “Buckle Up, They’re Coming for Us Next!!,” Joseph Rulli said the Supreme Court is likely to try to also overturn decisions granting LGBTQ+ rights, including Lawrence v. Texas, protecting same-sex intercourse, and Obergefell v. Hodges, granting the right to same-sex marriage.

Such concerns were prompted by the concurring opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas, who said the Supreme Court “should reconsider” those two cases and Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized contraception for married couples.

“It’s all about coming after our rights to privacy,” said Rulli, who first started coming to the Pride Parade 15 years ago. “I normally hold a sign that says, ‘Stonewall 1969 hasn’t always been a party,’ but this one felt more relevant today.”

Gary Gits, 74, has attended three Pride Parades. He said Sunday’s felt like the most important.

“We have to preserve this beauty,” Gits said. “If we don’t show our support now, we risk losing our freedoms. I’m scared. I don’t want all of this to be shoved back into the closet.”

Sunday’s event was the first since Richard Pfeiffer, longtime coordinator of the parade, died in October 2019. Pfeiffer held that post from 1974 through 2019’s 50th annual parade, and Sunday’s parade was in his honor.

A performer waves at the crowd Sunday during the Pride Parade on the North Side.

A performer waves at the crowd Sunday during the Pride Parade on the North Side.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Members of the Chicago Pride Guard perform during the 51st Annual Pride Parade on Sunday.

Members of the Chicago Pride Guard perform during the 51st Annual Pride Parade on Sunday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A person on a float throws out confetti Sunday during the Pride Parade.

A person on a float throws out confetti Sunday during the Pride Parade.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Spectators cheer and wave flags to celebrate Pride during the 51st Annual Pride Parade on the North Side on Sunday, June 26, 2022.

Spectators cheer and wave flags to celebrate Pride during the 51st Annual Pride Parade on the North Side on Sunday, June 26, 2022.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Parade-goers celebrate with pride and joy at the Pride Parade on Sunday.

Parade-goers celebrate with pride and joy at the Pride Parade on Sunday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A performer struts down the street Sunday during the 51st Annual Pride Parade on the North Side.

A performer struts down the street Sunday during the 51st Annual Pride Parade on the North Side.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

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