Despite a downpour of rain and a forced move from Grant Park citing organizer’s financial woes-the 2013 Puerto Rican Pride Parade went off without a hitch. Paradegoers sported umbrellas and raincoats to celebrate what’s being called the first United Puerto Rican People’s Parade.
“I’m very happy to be here to celebrate an occasion as monumental as the unification of Chicago’s Puerto Rican community. It’s wonderful to see the people celebrating together in Humboldt Park today,” said parade grand marshal and San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz.
After 34 years of celebrations in Chicago, this year was the first time the usual downtown festivities and the ‘People’s Parade’ in Humboldt Park were combined. One group that benefitted from having Chicago’s dignitaries and a large part of the Puerto Rican community present in Humboldt Park was VIDA/SIDA’s El Rescate Youth Shelter.
“We’ve been really struggling, trying to get grants into the project,” said Lourdes Lugo, director of El Rescate. “We are in dire need of mentors. People think that the only support you can give us is a check, but we need successful gay people to come in and talk to our young people. We need for people to help them learn that selling their bodies isn’t the only viable option to avoid homelessness.”
Others in attendance were folks from EM Lounge in the Hermosa neighborhood. “We’re here to show that not only within the Puerto Rican community, but in the gay community-we are family,” said Herrera, a regular patron of EM Lounge.
VIDA/SIDA was also present on the parade route. Queens and ambassadors represented with dancing and passing out information and resources to parade-goers.
The night continued with more festival activities and an after party at the home of Roberto Sanabria, board member of PRCC. Celebrating Puerto Rican pride were contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race-Jessica Wild from season two and Lineysha Sparx from season five; LGBT-rights activist Rick Garcia; and many others. More pictureshere.