Tag Archives: Chicago

What does it mean to #MakeLoveLouder at Chicago’s Pride Parade?

June 26, 2016 will mark my sixth year of being part of counter-protest efforts at the Chicago LGBTQ Pride parade. This effort started with the “I’m Sorry” campaign in 2010.  At that time, a group of people gathered together to apologize for the way the church has harmed LGBTQ communities.  We were a mostly Christian group of allies and LGBTQ+ people showing up at Pride to inspire a little more love and acknowledge the wrong that had been done by Christians. This tiny effort touched the hearts of many and went viral on the internet.  Eventually this idea caught on and was replicated at Pride parades across the country and even beyond the United States.

High-fives from parade goers at the Chicago Pride Parade
High-fives from parade goers at the Chicago Pride Parade

I’m excited to say that we’ll be back this year with the Make Love Louder at Pride campaign (#MakeLoveLouder).  The Center for Inclusivity is sponsoring the effort as we rally Christians, Muslims, Atheists, LGBTQ people and their allies, religiously affirming and those from a conservative tradition, under the banner of humanity and love.  We’ll be wearing red t-shirts and positioning ourselves between the parade marchers and the protesters near the end of the parade route.

#MakeLoveLouder red teeshirtIf this idea excites you and you want to join us, I’m writing to help prepare you mentally and emotionally.

If you’ve never been around the anti-LGBTQ protesters, it can be pretty intense. If you’re sensitive to the following descriptions, please take that into account and don’t ignore your gut.

(triggering and harsh language warning)

The protesters are a mix of people who are local as well as from infamous places like Westboro Baptist Church. They carry four-foot-tall banners and smaller posters and are on bullhorns the entire time. They call out individuals to question, blame, insult, and condemn. They say things like “I hope you get gonorrhea and die” or “You with the long hair, you’re going to rot in hell forever.”

They have signs that read “God hates fags.”

The protesters work to incite anger, and there’s no shortage of parade goers who will yell “f-you” and put up middle fingers at them in response.

Every year at least one person ends up getting arrested (and the protesters do press charges) for spitting or throwing something like a water bottle. This is a strategy that the protesters use as a revenue source by settling out of court with defendants.

It can be pretty crowded and hot (it’s a parade), and sometimes that can be a bit much for some people. Oh, and there are intoxicated people everywhere, so you know how that can go.

I purposely try to describe the worst here, because I don’t want to lead anyone into something potentially harmful without warning them.

Chicago Police in front of the anti-gay protesters at Chicago's Pride Parade 2015
Chicago Police in front of the anti-gay protesters at Chicago’s Pride Parade 2015

In contrast, I’ve never felt physically threatened. Uniformed Chicago police have the protesters barricaded in, and they escort them into the parade and back out at the end. Chicago Police surround the protesters by standing shoulder to shoulder outside of the barricade. The officers have always been pleasant toward us (parade goers and counter-protesters).

The best part for me is getting the crowd to cheer and drown out the hate speech.

I get lots of hugssometimes as people cryin appreciation for my being there.

My arms get tired from high fives. 🙂

My face hurts from smiling and yelling “I love you!” or “God loves you!”

I’ve even gotten a little dehydrated from cheering and sweating (bring water!).  🙂 

All that is to say that although the bad is BAD, the good is GREAT! People should talk and figure out what they are okay with and by no means should feel any pressure to come or to stay if they don’t feel good after experiencing what’s going on. By moving just a block away you can forget the protesters are even there and resume enjoying the parade.  If you decide that this isn’t for you, that’s totally finesurvival is a form of resistance, so you thriving elsewhere that day is important, too!

I will say that SO many people who have been part of this effort in the past didn’t realize how impactful the simple act of showing up could be.  So many of us have shed tears of joy or been personally rocked by what this embodiment of love is about.  

If you want more details, we’ll keep our Facebook event page up-to-date with information including location and details about t-shirts. Visit www.CenterForInclusivity.org to learn more about this great organization.

Detail Map showing the location of the protesters during Chicago's Pride Parade

Chicago’s Donald Trump rally protest photos

Chicago, I’m proud of the way we came together to send a loud and clear message that Trump and the hate that is churning in his rallies and within his supporters is NOT welcome here.  We shut down the rally and that’s a victory for us all. I hope other cities do the same. 

Most of what I observed was peaceful protest. THOUSANDS were on the streets that night but the media focused on the individual instances of violence.  Sadly, that’s what they are most interested in showing the public, contributing to the fear and speculation that these protests are chaotic and dangerous. 

In a somewhat uncharacteristic move, Chicago Police were being very heavy-handed in how they tried to force protesters out of the intersection at Racine and Van Buren. Police would swarm in packs of 50 at a time — crowding in protesters and attempting to create a wall of force to push protesters around. I saw someone get hit with a billy club and several people pushed to the ground.  Even with repeated instances of police officers aggression, the majority of the protesters remained peaceful. 

Below are some of the images I captured from #DumpTrump in Chicago. 

A Talk With A Stranger: Kezban

Thursdays are usually pretty good days for me.  On this Thursday in particular I was waiting for the Madison bus that would take me home.  As I waited out of the corner of my eye my attention was caught by a woman crossing the street with a guitar around her neck and the case on her back.  I wondered if she was coming from some music set but didn’t think much more about it.  I’d turned around to look and see if my bus was coming when the lady with the guitar tapped me on the shoulder to give me a complement on my locs.  It was then that I could see that she too had long locs peeking out from under a scarf tied around her head.

She introduced herself and I gave her my name, but me being bad with names didn’t quite catch it the first time.  We began to talk and I asked her about her music.  She then offered to play a song for me, but I let her know I didn’t have any cash that I could give.  She was happy to share her song with me.

My bus came, but I decided to wait for the next one.  I enjoyed her song, and she has a beautiful raspy voice and the most amazing green eyes (at least they looked green in the streen light).  We talked a bit more, and she offered a me a piece of the cake she’d been given at starbucks.  I took a piece and gave her a hug. She said I give good hugs. 🙂

Not long after that my bus came.  I asked her name once again and she came on the bus to ask for directions to the 150 bus.  The driver didn’t know but it gave her time to write down her name, number and a reminder to search for her on YouTube.

Her name is Kezban and I hope to see her again while she’s in Chicago.  Just that short exchange was the perfect ending to a good day.  Before I met Kezban I was pretty absorbed in the news that my check would be short $100.  But for those few moments it made it not matter so much.  It’s still a good day that God made… I can still rejoice and be glad.  I’m glad I was open to talking to a stranger tonight.

Check out a video someone made of her and posted to YouTube