Julie and I have been together almost four years, but up until this year we had never celebrated Pride together in Chicago.
So we readied our livers, dug through our closets for gobs of glitter and beads, and had my amazing out-of-towner cousin in tow so we couldn’t phone it in.
This Pride was going to be epic.
And in light of the recent Orlando tragedy, it felt all the more important to be present and be proud together in the LQBTQ community.
Want to know how to pack in as much action as possible in 48 hours of Pride in Chicago?
This is how it’s done.
Proud to Run: 8am Saturday
Before the debauchery commenced, we joined up with fellow gays and allies in tutus and tennis shoes Saturday morning for the Proud to Run 5k and 10k in Montrose Harbor.
Yes, the start time felt painfully early for Pride weekend, but the camaraderie and costumes were worth it. You can opt to walk or run the 5k, so everyone is welcome. And you will feel slightly less guilty at your follow up mimosa brunch.
Do it, you likely won’t eat the rest of the day.
SloMo @ SoHo Pool Party: 2 – 10pm
If you’re gay in Chicago and don’t know of the legendary Kristen Kaza and her SloMo dance parties and events, then stop reading and check your fanny pack for your gay card.
This year Kristen and her team pulled off an amazing party for queers and their allies on Saturday at the SoHo House, a Members Only Club in the West Loop that connects Chicagoans in creative fields.
The rooftop pool is just bigger than your home bathtub, but the sceney crowd, boozey drinks, and eclectic performances made for an afternoon I can’t wait to repeat.
Smart Bar: Midnight
I don’t pretend to know much about the DJ scene in Chicago, but Saturday and Sunday night of Pride weekend, Smart Bar was the place to be. Located under the Metro in Lakeview, this is small, crowded club that goes much later than my usual bed time.
Horse Meat Disco had us dancing Saturday night, and Sunday night resident Derrick Carter was spinning for the weekly Queen! event. The similarities this venue of acceptance and pride shared with Pulse in Orlando were striking, and they smartly donated proceeds from Sunday night to the Orlando victims.
Pre-Parade Brunch: 11am
Chicagoans love to brunch, so make sure you get invited to a brunch house party. If you find one on the East side of the parade route which isn’t as inundated with crowds from the el or the highways, all the better. Make sure to eat something and take some of that spiked lemonade with you for the road.
Pride Parade: Noon
Although the parade lasts for hours, get there early to get a good view of the floats and convenient access to local watering holes.
Parade Post Party: 3pm
After the parade, impromptu dance parties pop up, so make friends and invite yourself to an after party.
Pride North: 7pm
If you’re looking to escape the fray of Boystown after the parade, head north to the Glenwood Arts District for Pride North. Featuring an older and slightly more responsible crowd, Pride North was damn near quaint in comparison to its southerly brother.
Monday: Recovery Day
Do yourself a favor and plan to take the day off from work or, at the very least, WFH. Drink water, eat kale and go to bed while it’s still light out. And be proud Chicago Pride 2016 was one for the books.