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