From The Archives: 'Lift the Ban' Is Gay March's Cry (1993)

SHARE From The Archives: 'Lift the Ban' Is Gay March's Cry (1993)

By Maureen O’Donnell

Originally published June 28, 1993

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is a cop-out, said gays and lesbians who demanded an end to the military’s ban on homosexuals at Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade Sunday.

“Lift the Ban” was the repeated call at the parade, which drew a record crowd during its 24th year. Police Cmdr. John Clisham estimated there were between 140,000 and 145,000 participants and spectators.

Dorothy Hajdys, the Chicago Heights mother of slain gay sailor Allen Schindler, received a heroine’s welcome when she addressed a rally afterward in Lincoln Park.

“Seaman Allen Schindler died a man,” she said to loud applause.

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“I’ve been asked why am I doing this. I got what I wanted. I got Terry Helvey (her son’s convicted killer) put away for life,” she said.

She called for Illinois to pass a human rights bill banning discrimination against homosexuals. She also urged an end to the military ban.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is “still making a lie,” Hajdys said.

“I think that’s why Allen told, because he was tired of lying. He was tired of living that lie, and if the ban was lifted, he wouldn’t feel that he was lying and he wouldn’t have had to tell.”

After she spoke, a stream of young men waited to meet her. Some wept and hugged her. She held flowers a bystander had presented to her.

Organizers had trumpeted an expected appearance by Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.) as the first by a U.S. senator, but she was a no-show.

Her executive assistant, Jill Zwick, said Braun was never scheduled to appear at the event.

Braun was in Chicago on Sunday and was scheduled to be in town today but was being briefed about hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Another concern, Zwick said, was that the man who approached Braun at last year’s parade and threw a flag over her head has just been released from jail.

But whether it included well-known politicians or not, the parade was its usual jumble of personalities, professions and performers. And it wouldn’t be the Gay Pride celebration without drag queens. Transvestites – some standing 7 feet tall in their high heels – marched to shouts of “Work it, girl!”

Parade-watchers on roofs scattered glitter on the crowd below.

The parade and other Gay Pride celebrations around the country are held on the last Sunday of June to mark the anniversary of a 1969 incident in which gay men fought back during a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a New York City bar.

Editor’s note: Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was signed into law by President Obama on December 22, 2010. It went into effect on September 20, 2011.

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