The streets in Chicago’s Boystown will be a bit more colorful this Pride Month.
Fourteen crosswalks in the historic gay area on the North Side are being painted with rainbows and other colors. It’s part of the run-up to Chicago Pride Fest in Boystown June 22-23, and the Chicago Pride Parade on June 30.
“The rainbow crosswalks project is significant in establishing another foothold for our community,” said Ramesh Ariyanayakam, president of the Northalsted Business Alliance. “It signifies, as in other major cities, that our community remains steadfast in protecting the integrity of who we are.”
Currently, six of the crosswalks are painted with a rainbow. Another is painted with the colors of the transgender pride flag: blue, pink and white. An additional seven walkways will be painted with rainbows before Pride Fest.
On Thursday, business owners and several alderman gathered to dedicate the crosswalks and talk about their importance for Boystown.
Ald. James Cappleman, 46th Ward, reflected on a time when there was less acceptance of people in the LGBTQ community. He remembered when he was a teacher, a colleague was fired for attending a pride parade.
“Who would have thought back in the 1980s that, in 2019, we would be celebrating as an LGBT community and putting in these rainbow crosswalks?” Cappleman said.
This year’s Pride Fest and Pride Parade have additional significance because it’s the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, a pivotal event for LGBTQ history in America.
Blair Paddock is a news intern for WBEZ. Follow them @blairpaddock.