With the renewal of my contract at work, I now find myself in the position of facing another round of performance evaluations. When it looked like I was going to lose my job at the end of the upcoming week, I thought I would be able to avoid this nerve-wracking process, but into every life, a little rain must fall. Since my supervisor identified greater interaction with other departments and participation in museum events as a goal for me in this year, I decided I ought to up my involvement post-haste. I had previously served on the Peer Recognition Committee at the end of 2009 at my boss's behest, but I thought I ought to leave him with a fresher example in his mind before he sat down to judge me. Hence, when I received an email looking for volunteers to represent CHM at Chicago's Gay Pride Parade, I signed right up.
After all, I had always wanted to go to the Pride Parade, but had never worked up the motivation to go stand in the mid-summer heat to do so. Also, my friend Irene had also signed up, so it would be a fun thing for the two of us to do together, outside of the office. The Museum was seeking to increase its profile in the LGBT community in advance of an exhibit we're opening next year on the history of homosexuality in Chicago, and to spread the word about our history-themed pub crawls, one of our best-selling events. They had rented the same trolley used in the pub crawls for us to ride, and the prospect of being able to sit through the parade seemed far more palatable than standing all day in the hot sun.
Actually being in the parade was a far different experience than watching it, however. I missed out on all the fabulous drag queens riding the various floats, and the outrageous costumes being sported by all manner of men, women, and those who still haven't made up their minds. Instead, I got to watch the crowd, and the groups that were near us in the parade's staging area. It probably wasn't ultimately as fun as watching from the sidelines, but it was still exciting to feed off the crowd's energy while throwing confetti and waving a flag. I also got some fairly decent pictures during the day, so without further ado, here is a photographic journey through the Pride Parade:
Irene and I, waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for the parade to start. Seriously, it was almost an hour late! I think I was a little under-dressed for the occasion, but I didn't have any rainbow apparel...
Next to us in the staging area was a troop of line-dancing gay cowboys, practicing their routines before the parade kicked off.
These cute twinks were eager to show off their balloon costumes for photographers. The Pride Parade attracts all manner of exhibitionists, and these two were actually wearing more clothing than most.
At the intersection of Belmont and Halstead, the epicenter of Boystown, the crowds extended as far as the eye could see.
The spectators like to get in the spirit of things with festive costumes of their own. I think this group of women dressed in the colors of the rainbow were my favorite.
Other people like to get more, um, creative with their apparel. Let's just say I saw more genitals and nipples than I ever expected to see in one day...
When it was all said and done, we were sweaty, windblown, and covered in glitter and confetti, but it was definitely not an experience to be missed. Plus, even though I came home and took a shower immediately, I trust I'll be reliving the memories with every spangle I'll no doubt be finding on myself for the foreseeable future.