It may be a difficult, shaky time for equality right now, but Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles continues to play on, promoting positivity and love: The 2018-19 season will honor the rich, diverse legacy of LGBTQ history since the Stonewall Riots.
"This June of 2019 is the 50th anniversary. … We wanted to celebrate and honor the work that has been put in by everybody … toward equality and the momentum behind the modern gay rights movement," said Bradley Fritz, Board Chair of Lakeside Pride. "So we decided to take the approach of picking some of the more monumental times over the last 50 years."
These times will be presented in reverse chronological order: October's "Love and Marriage" celebrating marriage equality, November's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" honoring LGBTQ veterans, "Pay it No Mind" for Stonewall activist Marsha P. "Pay It No Mind" Johnson, "New York, New York" celebrating the titular city's role in promoting diversity and a homage to the Latinx influence in "Fiesta de Baile," culminating on June 2019 with "Stonewall: Love and Liberation" on the 50th anniversary of the riots.
Storytelling is an important aspect to the shows this season. "Love and Marriage" featured ensemble members telling their love stories onstage with their spouses (including Fritz with his husband, Dan). This intimate human touch will be a recurring feature.
"Each show will take its own unique artistic approach," said Fritz. "The Nov. 17 show is going to be emceed [by] and feature AVER [American Veterans for Equal Rights]. They are a national organization that have a Chicago chapter, and many of their members are members of the LGBTQ community.
"Two of the Chicago chapter members will be emceeing and sharing their stories of what it was like to serve in the armed forces as closeted … individuals. They will be sharing their own stories as well and then we'll also have participation by a couple other AVER members in the presenting of the colors."
The Stonewall anniversary show will "feature spoken word narratives and music accompaniment with firsthand accounts of people who were at the Stonewall Riots."
The shows will be performed by various Lakeside Pride ensemblesthe Jazz Orchestra, Symphonic Band, Latin Band and Chamber Ensemblesbetween the Center on Halsted, Rosehill Cemetery's May Chapel and the Holtschneider Performance Center at the DePaul School of Music.
"We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with DePaul and moving our Symphonic Band rehearsals and concerts … to the Holtschneider Center," Fritz said.
The move is indicative of Lakeside Pride's growing success.
"Our Symphonic Band has grown significantly in the last two to three years," Fritz added. "Just last year, we had 120 members with about 80 on stage at each performance and since we moved to DePaul this fall, we're going to have close to 160 members with about 130 on stage. Across the entire organization, we have about 250 members."
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" marks another important milestone for both Lakeside Pride and DePaul, said Fritz. "The Nov. 17 show is our first performance in the new space."
Next May 5, "Fiesta de Baile" will be performed at the Center on Halsted.
With its focus on celebration, love and honoring the accomplishments of the LGBTQ community, Lakeside Pride offers a much-needed light in the dark.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will be performed by the Symphonic Band on Saturday, Nov. 17, at DePaul's Holtschneider Performance Center. For tickets and further information on this show and the rest of the season, visit lakesidepride.org/season/.