he city’s LGBTQ community is celebrating Pride month in style — colorful, classic, cheerful style — with a literal display of queerness. Fourteen crosswalks in the Boystown neighborhood are being repainted in honor of the community. Thirteen of them will have the six colors that universally represent queer pride, and one will feature pink, white and blue, the colors that make up the transgender pride flag, said Eric Santiago, director of operations for the Northalsted Business Alliance, the area’s chamber of commerce, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Boystown is one of the country’s largest “gayborhoods,” known for its many LGBTQ stores, restaurants and bars. According to ChicagoPride.com, it’s also “the first officially recognized gay village in the United States.”
Several city leaders attended the unveiling ceremony Thursday morning, according to local news station WGN9. Among them, openly gay aldermen Tom Tunney and James Cappleman, who dedicated the crosswalks to the LGBTQ community.
“Fifty years ago, it was against the law for homosexuals to congregate. The police would arrest us,” Stu Zirin told the Chicago Sun Times.
Zirin, the vice president of the Northalsted Business Alliance, was one of the people standing next to Cappleman at the corner of Halsted and Roscoe streets. “As we step onto the crosswalks, we have to remember our history and how hard it was — as we look forward to a bright future,” he said.
Cappleman agreed. “Back in the 1980s, I used to be a teacher,” he said. “I left the teaching profession because a colleague of mine was fired for being at a pride parade. I knew I was going to be next.”
The $60,000 project is expected to be completed in time for Chicago Pride Fest, which starts June 22. It was funded entirely by the business alliance. No city funds were used.
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