Reflections From My First Chicago Pride Parade As An Openly Queer Gal
Politics and Activism

Reflections From My First Chicago Pride Parade As An Openly Queer Gal

I needed Pride to show me that I am not alone. That I am accepted, understood, and loved for who I am.

Reflections From My First Chicago Pride Parade As An Openly Queer Gal
Colleen Connelly

I wouldn’t say that I was ever “closeted”. Rather, my road to self-discovery has been long, and I never felt I could explain myself sufficiently while still self-searching. After all, how do you get people to understand something you don’t yet understand fully yourself? All I knew for sure was that I simply could not package who I was in the neat little boxes my society expected of me. Eventually, that was enough, and I arrived at the label “queer”.

I yearned to be a part of a community of others like me. I desired a safe space to learn, grow, and explore my intersecting identities. And I knew I’d find it all with Pride. Lucky for me, June was around the corner, so I started making plans to attend my first ever Pride Parade in Chicago on the 25th.

I never had a huge “I’m queer” announcement— I always kind of figured that if straight people weren’t expected to post a “coming out”, then why should I have to?— so I was aware that openly celebrating Pride would effectively out me to many unsuspecting friends and family members. That thought made me nervous, but I was okay with it. Every single day since taking queer as my label I have become more comfortable in my own skin and more able to truly embody what being queer means to me. I was ready for the world to know.

Throughout the weeks leading up to Pride, I looked for ways to share who I was with the people around me. I found the courage to be vulnerable at coffee shop dates, at parties, and around the family dinner table. When my friends came home from college, I further opened up to them over a plate of brownies. I noticed that the more I voiced it, the easier sharing became. It was such a relief to be able to casually state that I am queer, whether I was met with silence, questions, or a confession of my loved one’s own queerness.

One of those friends even went with me to Chicago’s Pride! We planned our outfits, caught a train to the city, and joined thousands of others waltzing to Boystown for the parade, rainbow flags in hand. We made friends with fellow rainbow spirits, screamed for every float, and even got emotional as the signs people held up hit us on a more personal level than we were expecting.

Most of all, we celebrated ourselves and the unique identities of our LGBTQIA+ family. We witnessed people living authentically, unapologetically, freely. We walked into the streets and were immediately validated for who we are. When we walked away, we were sure of a few things: we are queer, we are proud, we are lovers.

I needed Pride to show me that I am not alone. That I am accepted, understood, and loved for who I am. That I can be happy, confident, and proud of this queer identity. And let me just say— mission accomplished.

But the rainbow confetti has long been cleared from Chicago’s streets, and June is officially over. To be surrounded by such love and celebration was an incredible experience, but a lot of us had to go back home to places where we are once again the outsider. That’s quite a snap back to reality because Pride was almost like a refuge— a happy place of freedom from any sort of suffering. I am left wondering: when the rainbow high fades— when billboards lose their colorful ads, an ignorant comment weighs us down, or when support seems unreachable— how do we keep the pride in our hearts?

For one, we stay connected to the community. We don’t have to match the spectacle of Pride parades in order to create a safe space of love, support, and celebration in our ordinary lives. We can commit to having pride every day by waving our rainbow flags, strengthening queer resources on campus and in our communities, and raising our voices to keep the conversation alive with everyone around us.

Whatever you do, continue to support your LGBTQIA+ family. Being queer is a deeply personal identity, but it’s also a political one. The best way to show your pride is to join the human rights campaign. Remember that Pride is about more than rainbow colored buttons and advertisements— it’s about queer liberation. Learn your queer history, find a politically active group near you, and commit to attending the next march or action. Most importantly, never forget that we are not free until all of us are free— so support and fight for your trans brothers and sisters, your non-binary friends, and queer people of color. Yes, we can celebrate the fact that Chicago painted rainbows on the CTA last weekend. But we also need to fight for our cities to allocate resources to things like queer healthcare and equal employment.

Lastly, if you’re a straight ally, don’t wait until next June to visibly show your support again. We need your love every day of the year. It’s not enough to just add a rainbow filter to your Facebook profile picture for the 30 days of June. We are counting on you to be an ally every day by standing up for queer folk in your community, in politics, and in daily conversation. One of the best ways to be an ally is to educate yourself and others whenever possible.

Pride month may be over, but that doesn’t mean we’re putting away our rainbow flags. I hope June’s celebrations lit (or reignited) your inner fire for queer liberation and self-expression like they did for me. I hope your spirits have been lifted, I hope you feel at home in who you are, and I hope you feel connected to your LGBTQIA+ community. Most of all, I hope that you take memories of this year's pride with you and continue to live proudly-- authentic and unapologetic-- each and every day. Happy Pride! It doesn’t end here.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

119 People Reveal How The Pandemic Has Affected Their Love Lives, And Honestly... Relatable

"I haven't been able to get out of the 'talking phase' with anyone."

The reality is, there's no part of life the pandemic hasn't affected. Whether it's your work life, your home life, your social life, or your love life, coronavirus (COVID-19) is wreaking havoc on just about everything — not to mention people's health.

When it comes to romance, in particular, people are all handling things differently and there's no "right way" of making it through, regardless of your relationship status (single, taken, married, divorced, you name it). So, some of Swoon's creators sought out to hear from various individuals on how exactly their love lives have been affected since quarantine began.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

Dear Closeted Latina,

You were never alone.

Remember how the Latin world got rocked when Ricky Martin came out?

Keep Reading... Show less

It wasn't until I hit 23 years old that I started getting hangovers. It could've been from two glasses of wine or even a margarita at happy hour, the next day, consider me bed-bound until further notice.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Feel A Lil' Better: Because Air Travel Looks Different Now

If you have to travel, you can — you just have to take a few extra steps.

No matter how good (or bad) you'd describe your health, one thing is for sure: a little boost is ALWAYS a good idea. Whether that's reading a new, motivating book, or listening to a song that speaks to your soul, there are plenty of resources to help your health thrive on any given day.

As we are learning how to live our lives in the midst of a pandemic, one big question being travel. States that were initially labeled coronavirus (COVID-19) epicenters, like New York and New Jersey, are extra cautious in how freely residents can travel and then come home. Other states may not have the same travel restrictions as the epicenters, but one thing is for sure — no matter where you fly within the United States, that trip will look different than your usual summer vacation. Sure, it can still happen, you just need to take a few more steps to make sure your trip will go smoothly.

Keep Reading... Show less

Top 10 Santana Lopez Performances On 'Glee' That MADE The Show

In honor of Naya Rivera's passing, I compiled a list of her best performances as Santana Lopez as "Glee".


Hearing about the tragic passing of the beloved actress, singer, and model Naya Rivera was tragic to say the least. "Glee" was a huge part of my life, Santana being one of my favorite characters, so it was shocking to hear the news.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Caribbean is a place where people go for vacation, but if you set out from a cruise ship you miss out on all the beautiful culture. Their exotic beaches are nothing without their zinging food and hospitality. Locals in the Caribbean are warmhearted with a zest to live life to the fullest.

This is exactly where most of their words and phrases come from, having a good time. I definitely enjoyed myself living in the Caribbean, but it's not always about lounging. They get work done too and I've learned proper phrases for accomplishments.

Keep Reading... Show less

What's Coming To And Leaving Netflix In August For Your Summer Viewing Pleasure

Just in time for another your end of summer binge-watch list.

Flower Films, Warner Bros, New Line Cinema

August is here, which means we will be losing some of our Netflix favorites but gaining some new ones. Here is a list of TV shows and movies we will be losing and gaining on Netflix during August.

Keep Reading... Show less

According to Urban Dictionary, a "simp" is defined as "a man that puts himself in a subservient/submissive position under women in the hopes of winning them over, without the female bringing anything to the table." There are many other definitions for a "simp," but basically it's shaming men who are kind to women without getting anything in return.

Let's just stop attacking nice men. Work out your own issues, don't project your shortcomings onto another man. What happened to the brotherhood? Y'all can lie for each other, but can't raise each other up? You guys can encourage murder, gang rape, and violence against women — or at least stay silent about it — but can't let your brother know it ain't cool when they bring you down for being nice to women with no expectation?

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Living With Bipolar Disorder Is An Everyday Battle, But I'm Fighting It

I went from depression, to anxiety, to bipolar disorder.

I've thought about how to write this since my diagnosis. I've thought about what kind of feelings it might bring up from my mom, former friends, and even myself. I've rewritten it a thousand times in my head, but never could quite get the words onto my notepad, but tonight I'm going to sit down and write it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Self-Love Is The Best Love, That's Just How It Is

Do you ever feel like you can't please everyone? Self-love will do the trick.

I've been feeling a little down lately, with the understanding that friends don't last forever and that I can't always please my parents. Life has been rough for everyone lately and it's not easy to stay happy and optimistic during these times. But I promise you, you are on this earth for a reason. You are here because God formed you, to love, and to be loved.

When things are tough, realize that you have yourself always. No one can take that away from you. You will always be you. No matter who you are, what you believe, or where you've been in life, at the end of the day, you are you. You can love you, therefore giving you one reason to stay here on this Earth.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ranking 'The Umbrella Academy' Cast By Their Powers

I'm ranking the characters of Netflix's show "The Umbrella Academy" by how cool their powers are.

With the new season of "The Umbrella Academy" coming out tomorrow, I took the time to revisit the first season to refamiliarize myself with the characters.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments