TV & Radio
Chicago embraces Gay Pride
By Jeff Long
Chicago Tribune staff reporter
June 24, 2007, 6:14 PM CDT
Mike Erickson stood with his two young daughters in the heart of Boystown on Sunday, enjoying the Gay Pride Parade for the first time-even though his brother had come out to the family more than 10 years ago.
Erickson, 49, of Evergreen Park, and his daughters, Ceili, 12, and Phoebe, 10, watched the dancers and marchers and floats, and wandered through the friendly crowd with grins of appreciation.
"I haven't seen anything yet that I wouldn't want them to be exposed to," said Erickson, as a float with bare-chested men dancing in tight shorts cruised by. "If you want to see a wild parade, come down to the South Side St. Patrick's parade."
"It's fun," Phoebe said of her day at Pride.
The girls' grins seemed to have as much to do with having a fun day in Chicago with their uncle Jon as anything else. They stayed with their dad at their uncle's place the night before, watching movies and visiting.
Jon Erickson, who would only say he is not yet 50 when asked his age, has lived in the Boystown area for about 15 years. He said Sunday that he was proud to have his nieces and brother there with him amid a crowd that city officials estimated 450,000.
"It's really more than a family thing," Jon Erickson said of having his nieces attend Pride. "Their first question was, 'What does the rainbow flag mean?' And I told them how everyone's welcome. And that gay people are everywhere. So, to have my family join me along with my larger family is what the Pride Parade is all about."
Police and organizers said Sunday afternoon that they knew of no major problems or disturbances during the parade, which began at about noon, wending north on Halsted Street from Belmont and back south on Broadway.
There were 250 registered entries for the 38th annual event-floats, decorated vehicles, and marching groups-according to parade coordinator Richard Pfeiffer.
Former NBA center Jon Amaechi, who retired in 2004 after five seasons in the league and came out earlier this year in an autobiography titled "Man in the Middle," was the parade's grand marshal. The theme of the parade was "United for Equality."
Mike Erickson had always talked about attending the Pride Parade with his brother, but just never got around to it. He's glad that he did this year.
"I do things with my other brothers," he said. "This is a chance to do something with him, in his neighborhood." Elsewhere on the parade route, Taysha Bronaugh, 34, was enjoying the sights with her girlfriend, Demetria Jamison, 26.
"I come out here to show support," said Jamison. "And get support. I love the parade."
"I love it," added Bronaugh. "I love coming down. I like looking at the half-naked bodies, I'm not going to lie. Everybody's enjoying themselves. They're having fun."
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