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July 3, 2013

Chicago Pride Parade & SAGENet Pride

Today’s post is from Serena Worthington, Director of Community Advocacy and Capacity-Building. Follow her on Twitter.

Chicago PrideThis last Sunday, my partner, Terri Griffith, and I had the opportunity to ride on the AARP Illinois trolley in the Chicago Pride Parade with folks from SAGE Center on Halsted, Affinity Community Services, and AARP. Like many Pride celebrations, Chicago had a record breaking turnout—over a million!

Being in the parade, rather than viewing it from the sidelines, gave me a chance to see block after block after block of the massive crowds. Everyone had a huge smile on their face and tons of enthusiasm for everything. I was amazed by the sheer density.  At first, everyone was just a big blur of rainbow colors and lot of skin, but a few minutes into the parade, I found myself getting quiet and really just looking at them looking at us. There were so many people who got truly, genuinely excited when they realized our trolley was full of LGBT elders. People screamed, shouted encouraging things, blew kisses, and generally made a fuss. There is no experience like basking (albeit secondhand) in the approval that LGBT older adults get from a Pride Parade crowd. One of my favorite moments was passing Center on Halsted. The Center has an annual Senior Pride Viewing Party in the John Baran Senior Center—which overlooks the parade route. From our trolley, we could see all of the SAGE Center on Halsted constituents packed against the windows waving enthusiastically at us.

People loved that AARP was the sponsor. Our excellent host, AARP Associate State Director, Terri Worman, would periodically hold up her AARP card in one hand and give the crowd the thumbs up sign with the other. This never failed to generate smiles and laughs of recognition. More than once I saw someone turn to whoever was standing next to them and, from the looks of it say, “I’m in AARP!” I’m no lip reader but I’m pretty sure that’s what they were saying. Many thanks to Terri and her partner Paula Basta for making sure everyone was warmly welcomed, provided with AARP t-shirts and rainbow swag, and given lots water and snacks.

Watch us roll by in this video from Windy City Times


Check out a few Pride pics from our SAGENet affiliates around the country!

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