LGBT and Affirming Faith Communities Prominent in Chicago Pride Parade

Chicago area LGBT-affirming faith groups are slated to be one of the lead contingents in the 2012 Pride Parade taking place on Sunday, June 24.  The Pride Parade organizers agreed to a request from the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches (CCWC) and Dignity/Chicago that all faith-based groups march together in a prominent position of the parade in order to give attention to the pro-LGBT work that is being done in faith communities.

The Chicago parade is the largest parade of its kind in the Midwest, and one of the largest in the country and celebrates LGBT pride and speaking as a collective voice advocating for full inclusion and the rights of LGBT persons in our society.

CCWC and Dignity/Chicago were given prominence within the parade after their work in response to Cardinal Francis George’s infamous statement of December, 2011 comparing the LGBT community and parade participants to the Ku Klux Klan. During a Christmas interview with local Fox affiliate WFLD, the Cardinal said, "You don't want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism."

GLAAD worked with Catholic and welcoming congregations in Chicago to formulate a faith-based response that demonstrated opposition to the Cardinal’s comparison between the LGBT community and the Ku Klux Klan as defamatory and harmful. After several days of public and media pressure, the Cardinal issued an apology, which has been credited in part to the voices of LGBT Catholics and other faith leaders who sought accountability from him.

It is because of this work that organizations like Dignity, CCWC, and other faith groups have been invited to the front of the parade. “I am thrilled that the parade organizers recognize the value and impact of this collective voice in the LGBT community, speaking the real truth of our lives, families and relationships”, said Chris Pett, President of Dignity Chicago. “This recognition of our role in the community is especially meaningful as Dignity/Chicago celebrates its 40th year of service to LGBT Catholics.”

Parade Coordinator Richard Pfeiffer responded, saying, “The annual parade is a time for affirmation and celebration. It’s a time when the various segments of the LGBT communities can participate and express themselves in the parade. In this case, the faith-based groups are expressing the fact that all of us have value, worth and dignity… and should be treated equally, fairly and with respect.”

GLAAD applauds Dignity, CCWC, and all other faith groups represented in the Chicago Pride Parade. We will continue to work with groups of faith to promote LGBT equality. GLAAD will also be supporting many Pride events around the country visit GLAAD’s Pride page for more information.