Continuing a long tradition held by Mayor Richard M. Daley, Mayor Rahm Emanuel hosted his first LGBT Pride Month Reception at the Chicago Cultural Center June 9. Though Daley originally started the event to make up for not marching in the city's annual Pride Parade ( he refused to work on Sundays ) , Emanuel announced to loud applause that he would march in this year's parade, slated for June 26.
As a congressman, Emanuel often walked in the Pride parade alongside his wife and three children. Laughing, he shared a story about his then-3-year-old daughter's reaction to her first Pride parade: "The dads like to dance!" Daley marched just once during his 22 years as mayor.
Spirits were high in the Cultural Center, as guests mingled, networked and enjoyed complimentary Garrett Popcorn, wine provided by Barefoot Wines, and buffet-style food from Star of Siam. An estimated 1,000 people attended the free event, which was sponsored by Equality Illinois and State Farm insurance.
Mona Noriega, recently confirmed by the City Council as Emanuel's choice to head the Commission on Human Relations, addressed the packed room, surrounded by politicians, appointed officials, members of the Advisory Council on LGBT Issues, and many more. The commissioner applauded Illinois' decision to allow civil unions and said she hoped to work with Emanuel for similar advances. She and her partner Evette Cardona were among those having a civil union June 2 at Millennium Park.
Emanuel said LGBT Chicagoans shouldn't just consider themselves part of a community: "You are family." Barely audible over waves of applause, he stressed that with positions ranging from schoolteacher to doctor to police officer, LGBT citizens are an integral part of the city. "When you come from a Jewish home, family's family, man," he said.
The mayor honored Proud to Run, an annual 10K and 5K charity run that celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. The event, now hosted by Frontrunners/Frontwalkers of Chicago, started with just 40 runners and has grown to include more than 1,200 people. In 30 years, it has raised more than $300,000 for local charities.
Photos by Kat Fitzgerald, www.MysticImagesPhotography.com .