I don’t know that I toot my Midwestern pride horn as often as I should considering how much hometown love I have for Chicago but I was tickled all sorts of pink to return for their Pride festivities this year. Having made it through Portland pride unscathed. I decided to ransack my liver one more time with some good ol’ rally style partying like only Chicago can offer. Imagine if you will that San Fran Pride is Blanche, New York is Dorothy and Portland is the endearingly clueless Rose; Chicago Pride would then be the brazen and oft shameless Sophia. And, yes, life points to me for pulling of a Golden Girls analogy.
My only mission going into the weekend was to throw a hump into whoever was responsible for Chicago’s own Bieber parody “Gayfriend” but, — spoiler alert — I managed to make it through the entire weekend without hearing it once. I figured that that little diddy would have rivaled 2012’s pride anthem “Call Me Maybe” but, alas, nary a once.
I managed to pull myself together and instead spent my time re-acclimating myself to the Chicago lesbian scene. Oh, and still the humping thing. These are my stories.
Back in my baby dyke days of yore, I tripped over myself to attend the few lesbian-specific parties that Chicago had to offer, Back Lot Bash being the Pride Pièce de résistance. Now in it’s ninth year, Back Lot has grown from one night to four this year kicking off with a hopefully first of many annual comedy nights.
As host, Ever Mainard was knee-slappin’ and effortlessly hilarious at the helm of what you can only imagine to be, well, Bridget McManus meets Fortune Feimster. Bridget reveled in the hard knocks of being femme, crawled around stage wearing a dog cone of shame, and accosted the sign language interpreter all before ending her set with the splits. If you’ve seen McManusLand, you already understand how those seamlessly transitioned from one to another.
Then, there was Fortune.
I was already aware of my affection for a good ol’ Southern drawl, but when said accent is teamed with all the funny turns out I am powerless against it. And while I’m not super familiar with he Chelsea Lately, never since hunting for NSync’s TRL episodes have I been as motivated to find anything like I am Fortune YouTube clips. The random drunk girl in the audience was definitely right, Fortune is funny. More than funny actually as her natural humor had the audience throwing dollars and gasping for breath. Clearly the way anyone wants to get their pride weekend a’rolling. And rolling we did as one could tell it was pride simply by the amount of times she made reference to her vagina in one evening. Her words.
After comedy, there were derby girls in togas. Sold. The first thing I had done upon landing in the city, after gathering snacks, was to scoop up both the Windy City Times and the Chicago Reader who had just released their best of lists, 30 Under 30 and Best of Chicago 2012 respectively. Second was asking to be directed to the nearest theme party. Lucky for me I met up with newly crowned celezbian promoter Jenae Williams who showed me the lay of the dance party land. And she should know, considering she’s been throwing parties in Chicago’s lady scene since my formative lez years.
Jenae and The Best LGBT Dance Party according to Chicago Reader readers, Stardust, revved up the weekend with a kick off toga party featuring Nicky Da B and Chicago Outfit roller derby team. If you’re at all familiar with this league, you know that they can throw down with all of the things and are seriously have vying for the hottest league of anything, ever.
On Friday, Back Lot gathered the ladies in, well, a back lot for a sunset concert featuring headliner Chely Wright. Lesbians, of course, being the kind of folks who’d want to celebrate the Friday night of pride with an acoustic set of lady jams. Obvi, I was in. Unfortunately Daphne Willis dropped off as the opener last minute, but we were still afforded Sammy Griswald of Gayfriend fame and ended the night with Chely’s lady processing anthems, the highlight being her song “Something Positive and Hopeful.”
Amazingly, all off that and the weekend had just started. Seeing that I was still alive, on ward to more dykes a marching at Chicago’s Dyke March on Saturday. If at this point in my trip, I had been missing Portland at all, the dyke march rally made me feel right at home. There was hoola hooping, spoken word and someone’s first on-stage ukulele experience. All jokes aside, the most admirable part of Chicago’s march is that they collectively engage different neighborhoods instead of parading around the already pride-saturated Boystown or Andersonville. So kudos to them, and good luck as it is rumored they’re looking at the Southside’s Humboldt Park in the near future.
And while we’re talking Andersonville, seems the notoriously lesbian neighborhood has continued to expand north as one of the newest lady spots, Parlour, opened it’s doors to Chances Dances Dyke March After party and Ice Cream Social. That’s enough of a tongue twister to make you forget that I just used the term ‘lady spot.’ Parlour definitely was the place where all my queer people watching dreams were realized. That, and they served ice cream.
Sunday was the day to wear a cup. And if you’ve been at all curious as to what the apocalypse is going to look like, I’d say the Chicago Pride Parade was your chance. While it’s always been a grand affair, this year’s was one of firsts. The parade followed a new route from previous years to ease overcrowding, which was a good call considering this year was estimated to have been 850,000 people deep. I was of course running on lesbian time, i.e. late, and spent most of my afternoon dodging floats and trying to simply get to the other side of the road. Why did the lesbian cross the road? To get to the jello shots. Duh.
Pretty much, what was gathered having been absent from Chicago’s hullabaloo for as long as I had been is that if you fail to have a pride plan mapped out, you’re screwed. There were so many events, after-parties, cabs and busses that it really is in your best interest to have an itinerary, and maybe start doing some marathon drinking drills now. It might not even be a bad idea to set some chairs out to secure your spot on the parade route next year.