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Fake Titty Bras, Rainbow Mohawks and endless spank queues: Why the 2015 Chicago Pride Parade was the most epic celebration of love I’ve ever witnessed.

Fake Titty Bras, Rainbow Mohawks And Endless Spank Queues

101India’s very own social prowler explores the streets of Chicago for the Pride Parade coinciding with the legalization of same-sex marriage across America with timing so angelic that many wondered if the heavens were pro LGBT.

 

Chicago for the Pride Parade

A few weeks ago, I decided to head to the Big Apple to visit an old friend and indulge in some plain old American fast living filled with more benders than Charlie Sheen could endure. Ok maybe not like “The Sheen” but pretty damn close. Close enough for Courtney Love to tweet about when she’s not hitting hillbilly heroine.

We thought we’d fly to Chicago (the town that invented house music) and shoot the shit with an old friend of ours. That would mean we could also catch the historic pride parade and be part of the magic. Definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while, other than throwing tequila in the face of a quasi-naked man who thought grabbing my happy meal with his hand might be a smooth way to hit on me. At least he got tequila in his mouth - I know of many situations gone worse with no free drinks thrown at me.

My favorite drag queen ever
My favorite drag queen ever

Starting at noon, the Chicago parade culminates with the 4 mile show through Boystown and its gaybouring communities. One can expect anything and everything with no boundaries, rules or clothes. It’s sort of counter intuitive.

Since 1972, the Chicago Pride Parade has been held every year and over the course of four decades, it has grown to be the most celebrated pride events on the planet. Pride has come to symbolize several things: the long history of LGBT community and unfamiliar dignity, the freedom of all people to proudly express their unique sexual identity. Just days after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, parades held across the United States had an aura of elation in the air with thousands of revelers partying across the streets and celebrating love like nothing I’d seen before.

From intricate jaw dropping costumes to preened teens that made pupils pop to stark nude men who gave very few fucks, the day’s theme was look-like-anything-and-we’ll-spank-you-nonetheless. It was no holds barred with fake tittie costumes, shapely drag queens, furry grizzly bikini men and vibrant face paint which made this sunny Chicago day a real spectacle for the senses. Wide smiles and overflowing guts all around.

Skin coloured bras on one of the corporate floats
Skin coloured bras on one of the corporate floats

The procession saw representation from community businesses, organizations, elected governmental officials and individuals coming out to associate themselves with the parade. Over 200 entries featuring colorful floats, decorated vehicles, marching bands and walking contingents graced the streets of Chicago with nothing on their mind but Prosecco and play.

You know it’s a new era for the community when schools, police departments, football clubs, chambers of commerce, car companies, airlines and top liquor companies all partake in such a cause with unparallelled vigor.

Image Chicago Gay Pride Parade

“It feels surreal to be part of this day, to be alive and young during this time. Marriage was on my mind but my girlfriend and I were always so skeptical as to how we’d go about it. This is so reassuring.” said Stephanie Lorraine, 25. She met her girlfriend a year ago and they’ve been dating ever since. A joyous sigh of relief was evident on faces of thousands of couples who could now freely be with their lovers.

Lisa Caydon, 27, a bartender bear hugs girlfriend Meghan Cooper, 24, a nanny and they smile at each other like it was the first time they met. They intend on getting married in August.

Chad Anderson, 24, on the other hand decided to marry his boyfriend Andrew Larson, 28 within 48 hours and scheduled their ceremony at a pro LGBT venue ensuring they dont waste any lost time so they can start a family. “I love this city for so many reasons. There’s no such thing as discrimination here. It’s liberating to know that I can marry my boyfriend in a gay friendly community with open and free support.” said Anderson.

The Pride Parade march that has evolved into a mainstream event, a festival of sorts, sees an exponentially larger and grander pride parade every year in major cities of the world – San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Sao Paulo, Munich, London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Stockholm, etc.

Gay Pride Parade The Spank happy sisters
The Spank happy sisters

In between ripped men in thongs swiveling to Lana Del Rey and floral queens in giant feathers, Chicago’s pride parade featured a few more well known partakers: America’s biggest companies.
From Starbucks and T-Mobile to Wells Fargo and Absolut Vodka, large organisations were gung ho about displaying LGBT friendly values. Why so fervently you ask?

The spending power of the American LGBT audience is projected to be $830 billion in 2015. Maybe Corporates favour equality as much as their return on investment favours them. Pink money : a term used for the LGBT spending potential is what equality might mean to them. The same companies that probably refused to hire their next professional from the LGBT community are the ones which are dropping the most cash to be seen at the “event” of the year.

After the parade passed on through it’s 4 mile course, the party really began. There were bubbles and face paint. Burgundy butt plugs and champagne. Three thousand people bounced around to Lady Gaga's poker face. Everybody climbed on top of each other and flashes went off with selfie sticks.
As social media across America and the world blew up with the trending hashtags #lovewins and Obama tweeting #loveislove, I was partly surprised when the Whitehouse got beautifully lit up in the LGBT rainbow colours. Chest bumps and hi-fives replaced less joyous greetings while it became commonplace to see people dancing on the streets with abandon as if no one was watching.


Chicago the Gay Pride Parade Image

Bars and restaurants in the area were jam packed with hordes of click happy strangers linked to each other exchanging stories of hope & dreams for precious love which were now a guaranteed possibility. R.I.P Inequality.

As I stood amongst such liberated lovers, I couldn’t help but think of my gay friends back in India and the state of affairs rooted in alarmingly intolerant laws against homosexuality. Here, gay sex is a crime punishable by law with life imprisonment. Far from getting married, gay men and women struggle to be acknowledged as a natural and legitimate part of society.

While the euphoric celebrations continued with an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude, I found myself wondering why can’t we just embrace people no matter what their sexual orientation is - and move on?

 

 

By Roshmin Mehandru