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Parade History

The Chicago Pride Parade commemorates the Stonewall rebellion that took place on June 28, 1969 when patrons of a New York City gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, fought back during a raid by police.

At that time gay bars were frequently raided across the country. That night, bar patrons fought back and street demonstrations continued for several days. During that week gay liberation groups were formed, thus giving birth to the modern day LGBTQ+ rights movement.

Pride parades are staged in over 150 cities worldwide with more than 90 of them in the United States and at least 12 taking place on the last weekend of June each year. The annual Chicago Pride Parade, one of the oldest and largest parades in the country, has been coordinated by PRIDEChicago for over 50 years.

Mission Flag

Who We Are

PRIDEChicago is a vibrant and dynamic volunteer-powered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving the LGBTQIA+ community since 1975. We are proud to have produced the annual Chicago Pride Parade for over 50 years. We believe that diversity, equity and inclusion are paramount.

Our Mission

Founded in 1975 by Richard Pfeiffer, our mission remains streadfast to celebrate, commemorate, educate and liberate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community in Chicago, Illinois by advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Our Leadership Team

Our continued success is due in part to our dedicated all-volunteer leadership team and parade coordinators. Our team brings a wealth of experience and expertise so we can continue making the Chicago Pride Parade a celebration that our community can be proud of.

Tim Frye (he/him/his), Lead Coordinator

Steve Long (he/him/his), Co-coordinator

Ron Thomas (he/him/his), Co-coordinator

PRIDEChicago is a proud member of Interpride and the United States Association of Prides. 

Our Story

The annual Chicago Pride Parade commemorates the Stonewall rebellion that took place on June 28, 1969 when patrons of a New York City gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, fought back during a raid by police.

PRIDEChicago has organized the parade for half a century. Today, it’s one of the nation’s biggest Pride parades in the country and one of the world’s largest neighborhood parades.

The annual Chicago Pride Parade commemorates the Stonewall rebellion that took place on June 28, 1969 when patrons of a New York City gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, fought back during a raid by police.

PRIDEChicago has organized the parade for half a century. Today, it’s one of the nation’s biggest Pride parades in the country and one of the world’s largest neighborhood parades.

1969
28 June
The Stonewall Uprising

The 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City were largely ignored by Chicago's newspapers.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Chicagoan's continued to face harassment and arrests. 

1970
27 June
1st Pride Rally and March

The first Chicago Gay Rights March was held with 100 to 150 people.

The march, organized by the Chicago Gay Liberation, was the first in the U.S. to recognize the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

Photo: Windy City Times

1974
30 June
New Beginnings

In 1974 when Chicago Gay Liberation and Chicago Gay Alliance dissolved, Rich Pfeiffer took over management and planning of the annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade.

Photo: Eunice Hundseth Militante, Newberry

1977
26 June
Boycott Anita's Oranges

The 1977 Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade saw a large uptick in numbers from previous years, with an estimated 3,000 people in attendance.

The catalyst was a protest again Anita Bryant, an anti-gay activist, singer, and spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission.

Photo: queermusicheritage.com

1981
28 June
"Gay Pride Parade Day"

The 12th annual Parade in 1981 took one of the longest route's ever. 

It was also the first year that Mayor Jane M. Byrne designated the day "Gay Pride Parade Day in Chicago."

In 1984, after losing re-election, Byrne participated in the parade.

Photo: Alan Light

1989
25 June
LGBTQ Enpowerment

Mayor Harold Washington spoke at the Chicago Pride rally after the parade in 1986, becoming the first Chicago mayor to address a gay rights rally.

Washington made significant contributions to the cause of LGBTQ equality, including the appointment of the first mayoral liaison to the LGBTQ community.

Photo: Alan Light

1989
25 June
"I am the mayor for all Chicago."

In 1989, Richard M. Daley became the first sitting mayor to join the Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade. 

When asked why he participated, Daley replied: "I am the Mayor for all Chicago."

The crowd was estimated at 100,000.

Photo: Windy City Times

1994
4 June
"Stonewall 25"

The 24th annual Chicago Pride Parade - with 165,000 celebrants - was rescheduled from the traditional last Sunday in June to the first weekend to accommodate those traveling to NYC to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

2010
29 June
Sopel and the Stanley Cup

Spectators provided a deafening roar of welcome to the Stanley Cup and ex-Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel at the 41st annual parade.

It was the first time it, or any other major sports trophy, has been in a pride parade.

"I hope it raised some awareness," said Sopel.

2012
24 June
Route Extended as Crowds Double

After crowds doubled over the previous three years, the 2012 route was lengthened by 5 blocks to allow more space for spectators to view the parade. 

2013 again saw record crowds as an estimated 1 million people came out in support of LGBTQ equality.

Photo: Jay Shaff

2014
29 June
Marriage Equality in Illinois

In 2014, marriage equality took center stage at the 45th annual Chicago Pride Parade. 

The festive parade was the first since Illinois' marriage equality law was enacted on June 1.

Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed the bill into law, was among the more than 200 entries.

2016
26 June
Orlando Strong

The 47th annual Chicago Pride Parade was a mix of emotions: joy, pride and pain.

The opening of the parade included a moving tribute to the 49 slain victims of the June 12, 2016 tragedy at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

An estimated crowd of one million people attended.

2019
30 June
Don't Rain on Our Parade

The 2019 Chicago Pride Parade is remembered as the 50th milestone edition cut short by Mother Nature.

In October, parade coordinator Richard Pfeiffer passed away at 70. Pfeiffer coordinated the parade since 1974. 

Photo: Steven Koch

2022
26 June
Parade Returns After Two-Year Hiatus

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chicago Pride Parade returned to much fanfare in 2022. 

The parade was cut short due to inclement weather in 2019 and canceled in 2020 and 2021 —marking a first in its 50-year history.

Photo: GoPride.com

1969
28 June
The Stonewall Uprising
1970
27 June
1st Pride Rally and March
1974
30 June
New Beginnings
1977
26 June
Boycott Anita's Oranges
1981
28 June
"Gay Pride Parade Day"
1989
25 June
LGBTQ Empowerment
1989
25 June
"I am the mayor for all Chicago."
1994
4 June
Stonewall 25
2010
28 June
Sopel and the Stanley Cup
2012
24 June
Route Extended as Crowds Double
2014
29 June
Marriage Equality in Illinois
2016
26 June
Orlando Strong
2019
30 June
Don't Rain on Our Parade
2022
26 June
Parade Returns After Two-Year Hiatus
In Memoriam

Richard Pfeiffer

Richard William Pfeiffer, long-time coordinator of the annual Chicago Pride Parade since 1974 and a member of Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, died Sunday, October 6, 2019. He was 70.

“One of our earliest and longest-serving activists, Rich Pfeiffer made history as he gave our community decades of committed, effective service,” said Art Johnston, Sidetrack co-owner and co-founder of Equality Illinois.

“Under Rich’s year-round consistent leadership Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade grew from a few hundred participants and observers to thousands of marchers and over a million viewers, reflecting the amazing growth of our communities,” Johnston added.

Pfeiffer watched Chicago’s first-ever parade in 1970, was a volunteer marshal at the second, third and fourth parades, and he volunteered to be the coordinator at the fifth parade in 1974. He held the title of Parade Coordinator through 2019.

Pfeiffer’s husband of nearly 48 years, Tim Frye, assumed leadership of the parade and continues as coordinator in 2024.

Thanks to Pfeiffer and Frye’s dedicated service, PRIDEChicago was inducted into The Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in 2021. 

It is a tribute to Rich that our parade has thrived with very little of the controversies which have marked so many other parades across our country.
ART JOHNSTON

Pride is Power

When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.

Barack Obama

You never completely have your rights, one person, until you all have your rights.

Marsha P. Johnson

One of the prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising

Rights are won only by those who make their voices heard.

Harvey Milk

“The Harvey Milk Interviews: In His Own Words”

Fears are not facts.

Chaz Bono

“Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man”

Accept no one’s definition of your life, define yourself.

Harvey Fierstein

Actor

Equality means more than passing laws. The struggle is really won in the hearts and minds of the community, where it really counts.

Barbara Gittings

Activist for LGBTQ equality

Faces of Pride

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