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Montrose Rocks event is rebranded
by Jason Carson Wilson
2015-06-03

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A longtime Black gay pride celebration has been rebranded. The event formerly known as Montrose Rocks is now Pride at Montrose. That's thanks to a mutual agreement between the Rocks Coordinating Committee and "Step Up. Get Tested" ( SUGT ), according to event organizer Anthony Galloway.

"We saw there was a need for the community," Galloway said. "It was at great threat of being taken [from the community]."

Pride at Montrose will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, June 28, in a gated area at Cricket Hill at Montrose Beach Park. The free event will include two stages, a comprehensive "health village" and plenty of entertainment. Galloway said the area could see 20,000 people come and go.

"We're very excited about that," Galloway said. "We're looking forward to getting the community behind this for years to come."

Entertainment includes rapper Fly Young Red as well as LGBT deejays. It will also feature "J-Setting." J-Setting is a dance primarily done by Black men in the South. SUGT's new brand ambassador will also debut during the event.

Harmony Health Care of Illinois is underwriting the event. Galloway describes Pride at Montrose as an "amplified, fun health fair." Blood pressure, comprehensive sex transmitted disease, diabetes, glucose and Hepatitis C screenings as well as HIV testing will be available.

MillerCoors is also a sponsor. Galloway noted that alcohol isn't allowed at the event.

SUGT is Chicagoland HIV Testing Collaborative's ( CHTC's ) HIV-prevention campaign. CHTC includes more than 30 partner agencies. A complete list of agencies can found at www.StepUpGetTested.com/partner-agencies.

AIDS Foundation of Chicago ( AFC ) is among those agencies. Galloway serves as SUGT's strategy director. Galloway said agency and sponsor is helping provide great music and entertainment as well as ample security.

"We're really trying to make this an outstanding event," he said. "Chicago's community of color needs something to be proud of."

Violence during certain Montrose Rocks events prompted the police to demand no sound after 5 p.m. Galloway credited fruitful negotiations with 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman's office and area Chicago Police commanders with garnering an extension to 7:15 p.m.

Cappleman's chief of staff, Tressa Feher, confirmed the cooperation and collaboration with Galloway and SUGT. Feher commended the organizers' efforts.

"They have put together a solid plan that has been approved by the Park District and the Chicago Police Department," she said. "[The alderman] is in full support and is looking forward to a great event for the community."

Continuing the tradition, Galloway said, with a focus on holistic wellness, is the goal.

"We're not trying to be different from other years," Galloway said. "We're trying to build on a legacy."

He said the city "doesn't have a lot of spaces where [Black LGBT] people can be themselves." Galloway, a self-described cultural organizer, said he strives to create that space.

"We only want to add to the celebrating events," he said. "It really is a movement."

Galloway said Pride at Montrose is part of an overall effort to help uplift the Black LGBT community. However, he added that he wants all LGBT people—and allies—to be part of the movement.


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