Chicago Gay and Lesbian Parade

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On June 27, 1970, the Gay Liberation Movement held its first Pride Parade in Chicago. It began at Bughouse Square in Lincoln Park and ended at Civic Center Plaza downtown. At that time, the march was held only in the Lakeview East neighborhood, which was part of the larger Lakeview neighborhood area. The parade route is usually between four and six miles.

By 1980, the parade had become so popular that it began to expand its route from Broadway and Montrose Avenue to the Uptown neighborhood. This allowed more people to watch the parade and made room for more floats and marching bands, and in 1997, organizers decided to move the date of the parade up to coincide with National Gay & Lesbian Day, which is celebrated on June 28th each year - the date of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Parade remained the standard until around 2009, when it was moved to a different calendar year. It wasn't until around 2009 that the date was moved back to late June or early July, depending on the calendar year.

In 2000, organizers announced that they would be introducing a new pre-parade celebration - also known as Chicago's two-day PrideFest - which takes place before the annual parade itself kicks off. In addition to live musical performances and a drag show, the event features booths for food and drink purchases, as well as booths selling local merchandise related to LGBTQ+ culture and the Chicago area as a whole (such as Boys town or Andersonville). As of 2019, this pre-parade celebration is in its 19th year!

City Profile

Chicago's gayborhood is Boys Town, with over 20 bars in the area.


Pridefest Chicago is the name of the entire parade festival, and the week leading up to the parade is filled with events, including sports games, food tastings, musical performances, parties, cool youth gatherings, etc. Pridefest also hosts concerts, with multiple stages and different music to suit all preferences.

But when it comes to Chicago, there's another event in August, market day, which is also a nationally recognized gay and lesbian festival.