Chicago Pride 2008


Dyke March Chicago 2008

Originally uploaded by TheFemGeek

We had a blast during our first Pride weekend in Chicago. Here we are at the Dyke March on Saturday, courtesy of TheFemGeek (thank you!), sitting on the sidelines watching the dykes go by. By San Francisco standards, this was a much smaller event than what we’re used to. We were laughing at the “tiny Dyke March,” but make no mistake, it was charming and fun. We do have to adjust our expectations when we say things like “if boys were here, there would be a DJ and a disco ball suspended from a crane.” I love the grass-rootsyness of this event, the drumming on plastic bins, the hand painted signs, all of the women just amazed by the large crowd…it’s all so fun.

The next day we went to the parade, and it was pretty crazy. I forgot how ferklemt I can get at Gay Pride, and I really almost lost it when the veterans marched by. There was another contingent that was fantastic, though I don’t know who they were. It was and all African-American group clad in brightly colored clothing, many twirling enormous bright flags and rifles. There must have been over one hundred of them, and they were so amazing. I also loved the two-steppers and the cheer leaders.

The parade stopped for a long time at one point. After about half an hour, folks in the crowd started talking and getting a little impatient. It was all fine for a while. Boys on top of the building across the street from us were entertaining the crowd by throwing Mardi Gras beads. Gillian caught a strand of each color for me. When a couple of cops walked by, Gillian stopped them (beer in a paper bag in hand — that’s how they do it in Chicago) and asked what the hold-up was. They told her someone’s foot got run over. It was all good, but I was just starting to get a little nervous by the time the parade got going again. People were starting to get agitated. I don’t know why they would think that it would be safer to hold up the parade for 45 minutes to an hour as opposed to getting the injured person out of there as fast as possible. This just tells me that the safety monitors don’t have it together for this event yet.

We then somehow made our way up the street (salmon swimming upstream — it was a little stressful for a moment) to the Anne Sather’s parking lot for the Girl Blast, which we heard was the place to be after the parade. The moment we got there, it started to pour. We held out, made some new friends huddled under our umbrellas, and got soaked anyway. It didn’t matter. We knew it would blow over, and sure enough, it did and more people showed up.

After a while, our new friends got a little too friendly, so we decided it was time to move on. We then hit the dance floor. The music was great, but for some reason we were the only people dancing. We didn’t care. We were having so much fun, and it had been so long since we’d been out and about, we just let go our inhibitions and cut a rug in the parking lot. Eventually others joined us.

At the height of the party, it was time to go home. It was about 5:00 and we were exhausted. For the rest of the evening I was pasted to the couch. All in all, a very satisfying weekend.

Midsommarfest

Here we are enjoying some kabobs at Andersonville’s Midsommarfest.

At the Midsommarfest in Andersonville

You can see my new purse, and the pig t-shirt I got for Gillian’s birthday. We had a great time, wandering around, checking out the music and food and the art, chatting with folks from neighborhood.

However, I could have sword that I read on the website the day before that the festival was officially green. I carried my empties around in my purse all day because the only recycling bins I could find were teeny tiny little ones right at the entrance. Not very green friendly, it seems to me.

However, we had fun, and we look forward to going back next year. I hope they are able to acquire more recycling bins and get serious about promoting green living in Chicago. And perhaps other street fairs in the city will take heed.

Earthquake! In Chicago?

It was an eerily familiar feeling this morning, being gently woken up, as if someone was standing by my bed rocking it ever so slightly.

We live in a solid building, so I knew it wasn’t the wind shaking us. I had to think for a second, wake up a little and think about where I was.

No, I really do live in Chicago, not Oakland any more, but I wasn’t so sure at 4:35 this morning.

That was definitely an earthquake.

I thought we had moved away from that stress! I guess you can’t even count on the earth beneath your feet.

The Right Side of History

Gillian and I watched our attorneys today argue before the California Supreme Court for the rights of same sex couples right to marry. The hearings were webcast, so even though we now live in Chicago, we were able to watch history being made.

It made me think back to when I first lived here in Chicago back in the early 1990s. In the spring of 1992, there was a protest for domestic partnership rights at the University of Chicago. I wasn’t a member of the University community at that time, but I lived near by and knew many people who were affiliated in some way. I knew lots of queer folk, and regularly attended events and social gatherings. The day before the protest, my acquaintance and future girlfriend, Tamara, asked me if I wanted to get married.

I was a little taken aback since I hardly knew this girl, but she explained that it would simply be participating the protest of the University’s policy of denying domestic partnership benefits to the same-sex partners of their gay and lesbian employees. I accepted her offer.

I really felt that the whole thing was a silly lark. It was fun, after all. In the spirit of Queer Nation and Act Up, the event was festive and fun. I remember Mardi Gras beads and drag queens, lots of people flirting, and lots of fun. I still have the pink marriage license. I was in my early twenties at that time, and not in a serious relationship, and I really never thought that I would care about being able to get married or health care or benefits. I never that same-sex partner benefits would happen in my lifetime, much less same-sex marriage.

By December of 1992, just a few months after that protest, the University of Chicago agreed to offer domestic partner benefits to their gay and lesbian employees, one of the first major American universities to do so.

Twelve years later, I got a phone call from my ex-girlfriend who asked me to marry her all those years ago, asking me again if I wanted to get married, this time to my beloved, Gillian, and this time for real at San Francisco City Hall. We would be among the first same-sex couples in the United States to get legally married. We jumped at the chance. In this ACLU newsletter, you can find a photo of all of us (page 6).

And today the California Supreme Court heard arguments in our case. No matter what the government and the courts say, Gillian and I know we are married in our hearts. I know that we’re on the right side of history, and maybe the change won’t happen in our lifetimes. I didn’t expect my small action back in the spring of 1992 to make a difference, and yet in just a few months same-sex couples employed by the University of Chicago had the same benefits as married straight couples. I am now an employee of that institution, and I wouldn’t have been able to accept my current position here if they hadn’t been able to offer me those benefits.

I am exceedingly grateful and exceedingly hopeful. I know things might not go our way in California. Even so, I know we’re on the right side of history, and it’s just a matter of time.

The days are getting longer

Last night upon arriving home after work and running a couple or errands, I noticed that the sky was just a little bit lighter blue than it had been at that same time a few nights ago. With all of the frigid weather and incessant snow storms we’ve been having here, there is something so sweet about anticipating spring. This is the change of seasons that I have miss all these years in California. I know how wonderful Chicago is in the spring and summer, and I can’t wait to skate along the lake shore, ride my bike around town, and meet Gillian for picnics and concerts in Millennium Park. I long for the farmers markets, fresh corn, tomatoes warmed in the summer sun.

Tonight, we’re hunkering down for another storm. We’ve been celebrating our fourth first wedding anniversary all week, and we have a feast planned, which I’ll write about tomorrow with a few photos. Enjoying comfort foods, snuggling up with a romantic movie, getting cozy as the next storm revs up, and dreaming of spring.

All you can do is laugh…

I meant it when I said I was looking forward to the change of seasons. And it is still an adventure in sort of a fun way. When I woke up this morning, I can’t say that I looked forward to going outside and facing the storm. But once I got out there, it was kinda fun, I admit. And everyone else was out there, too. The train was packed as usual, even with the eight inches plus of snow that was hampering our travel.

So, here we are, our first winter in Chicago after sixteen years in California, and it is one of the worst in years. I really don’t mind it yet. It’s beautiful! The blanket of snow slows and quiets everything down. You run in place on the sidewalk because it’s so slippery. Your face freezes a little and you have a hard time enunciating, and everyone just looks silly!

All you can do is laugh.