Pride Week Podtalk: Gary G. Chichester, on First Chicago Gay Pride Parade, June 27, 1971

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CHICAGO – It’s Pride Week, ya all, part of Pride Month, culminating in the upcoming Pride Weekend … the more the Pride the better. 2021 marks the 50th Anniversary of the first official Gay Pride Parade in Chicago – the first “march” took place a year earlier in 1970, honoring the first anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Uprising. 1971 was the first permit-applied-for official parade, and the guy behind it is here to tell all about it, Chicago LGBTQ+ Hall-of-Famer Gary G. Chichester.

Left: Chicago’s First Gay Pride Parade, June, 27, 1971. Right: Gary Chichester & the Chicago Pride Flag
Photo credit: Rich Pfieffer/Gary Chichester

As the march became a parade in 1971, activist Gary Chichester became involved by co-founding the Chicago Gay Alliance that same year, which created the first gay and lesbian community center in the Windy City. Gary also practiced activism through The Chicago Gay Health Project, the Gay Rights National Lobby, the NAMES Project, Strike Against AIDS and the City of Chicago’s Advisory Council on Gay and Lesbian Issues, among so much more. He was inducted into the Chicago LGBTQ+ Hall of Fame in 1992. He also recently was featured in the FX miniseries PRIDE, a history of LGBTQ+ civil rights from 1950 to now.

The Activist: Gary Chichester, Circa 1970
Photo credit: Gary Chichester

Gary is a native Chicagoan, whose family lived in the Old Town neighborhood when he was born. Eventually he graduated from Maine East High School in suburban Park Ridge, the classmate of Hillary Rodham. He was radicalized early, participating in the Chicago protests in 1968 at the Democratic National Convention, where he was tear-gassed during the police riots.

After helping to launch the Pride March and Parade – and helping to design the Chicago Pride Flag (see photo above) – Gary has seen it grow to be the most popular parade event in Chicago, drawing one million people to the Uptown and Boys Town neighborhood in 2019. And despite the postponement of the 2021 parade to October, Gary Chichester will be celebrating yet again on the date where he and his fellow activists made history.

In Part One of a Podtalk from 2020, with Patrick McDonald of, Gary Chichester talks about his personal experience of activism for the first Gay Liberation March in Chicago, 1970, including how he created the Pride Flag that the marchers carried.

In Part Two, Gary talks about the evolution of the march that became a parade, and what he is most proud of on this 50th Anniversary of the day he helped to make history. will celebrate 2021 PRIDE all week … watch for more reviews and articles. To access the Facebook Page of Gary G. Chichester, click here. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

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© 2021 Patrick McDonald,

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