By Lillian Williams
Originally published June 25, 1990
Politicians were billed as the big guns Sunday at Chicago’s 21st annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade. They came out by the dozens.
Big or small, though, they offered few statements on how they would fight the AIDS crisis or tackle problems of discrimination against homosexuals.
They served up the usual platitudes but few specifics.
“This is a very significant parade,” said Mayor Daley as he hopped into a white convertible that led the marchers down Halsted, Broadway and Diversey in the Lincoln Park area.
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The crowd whistled and waved as the mayor’s car rolled past.
Right behind the mayor, about 40 elected officials, or candidates, walked, or rode, each seeking the camera eye, positive voter reaction and publicity. They received all three.
“I don’t believe in discrimination in any context,” said Attorney General Neil Hartigan, the Democratic nominee for governor. His opponent, Secretary of State Jim Edgar, did not appear but sent representatives.
Hartigan said he would “be glad to take a look at” legislative proposals calling for homosexual spouses to have the same rights as legally married people. Daley, too, indicated that he is reviewing such proposals.
Chicago’s gay and lesbian parade was one of 11 such parades Sunday in cities including New York, San Francisco, Denver and Kansas City, Mo.
In Chicago, police and parade officials estimated that about 100,000 people turned out for the parade and the rally afterward in Lincoln Park.
Also in Chicago’s parade were Sen. Arthur Berman (D-Chicago); Cook County State’s Attorney Cecil Partee; Partee’s opponent, Jack O’Malley; Cook County Board president nominees Richard Phelan and Aldo DeAngelis, and Ald. David Orr (49th), Democratic candidate for county clerk.
DeAngelis talked about the significance of the parade.
“We live in a pluralistic society, and the group here is a legitimate voting group,” he said. “And when you have a legitimate voting group, you ought to be where they are.”
Lots of other folks and messages dotted the parade routes.
“Every since the AIDS crisis, there’s been an increase in gay bashing,” or harassment of gays, said Richard Pfeiffer, parade coordinator.
“We need legislation passed to provide a legal mechanism to get police to keep tabs on the crime, document it.”
Regarding gay bashing, Phelan said, “Hate crimes of any kind are something we can’t tolerate in America.”
Parents of gays and lesbians told spectators their stories with homemade signs they carried while marching. “I love my gay son,” read the message one woman had written.
Others talked about religion and the gay community.
“God is my shepherd, and he knows that I’m gay,” read a huge sign carried by a group of gay Christians.