“I think it’s cool. I love seeing everyone come together and show their sexuality and support for everything,” said Imani Drozd, a participant.
For the first time since the start of the pandemic, the legendary annual street festival has returned to the city’s North Halsted street corridor.
Usually held the weekend before the Chicago Pride Parade, this year’s celebration of unity and community includes two days of food and fare as well as live music, DJs and drag shows on three stages distinct.
“I don’t know if I’m looking for anyone in particular, I’m just excited for each one of them,” said Rachel Mafiarf.
Participant Seneca Ammons also weighed in.
“Tomorrow is the best day in my opinion. We have the June 19 celebration,” Ammons said.
Chicago native Dida Ritz, a contestant on the fourth season of RuPaul’s “Drag Race,” wowed the crowd on Saturday afternoon.
“Remember Pride isn’t just for gay people. It’s for everyone,” Ritz said.
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Security was tight and there was a visible police presence for the festival following a foiled attempt by white nationalists to disrupt a pride event in northern Idaho.
“Just from the way we got in and the way they searched us and all that, it looks pretty good,” said attendee Edmundo Gonzalez.
At Pride Fest, there are security checkpoints and no large bags are allowed, among other security measures.
“We are very comfortable with the protocols we have in place. It will be a very safe and fun weekend,” said Chicago Pride Fest President Mark Liberson.
And while the focus is on fun, some are also concerned about the continued attacks on this community.
“The way federal legislation across the country is really an opportunity for us to show who we are as a community and for us to come together and say our voices won’t be silenced,” said Dustin Erikstrup. from the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. .
But for the Sauer family, the day is all about supporting their neighbors and the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s just a fun and positive event,” Lauren Sauer said.
And while safety is a priority, it’s about celebrating and embracing the LGBTQ+ community, wherever you are.
“I’m so excited to see people going out and having fun and the freedom that we had, that we really lost for two years,” said contestant Tony Odisho.
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