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Chicago marks Pride with rainbow crossings

Lydia Smith May 31, 2019

The rainbow crossings in Boystown, Chicago (NBC/Screengrab)

Chicago has marked Pride by painting rainbow crossings on the streets.

Seven of the crossings have been completed so far in Boystown and there will be 14 in total.

The project, paid for with money donated by Chicago Pride Fest and the street festival Northalsted Market Days, will also include a blue, pink and white version to mark the transgender flag.

It is expected to be completed in time for this year’s Chicago Pride Fest, which starts on 22 June.

Stu Zirin, vice president of the Northalsted Business Alliance, an organisation which supports local businesses in the area, told the Chicago Sun Times: “Fifty years ago, it was against the law for homosexuals to congregate. The police would arrest us.

“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.”

The crossings also mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, an uprising against homophobic police raids at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, which was an milestone in the struggle for LGBT equality.

Marsha Johnson was instrumental in the 1969 Stonewall riots
The Stonewall riots sparked an international LGBT rights movement (Wikimedia Commons)

On June 28 1969, the police stopped by The Stonewall Inn on the grounds of checking for alcohol law violations and other transgressions, which is something they did regularly.

What actually occurred was police intimidation and demands for payoffs in return for not arresting or publicising the names of customers.

The riot reportedly broke out when lesbian activist Stormé DeLarverie was attacked by police for saying her handcuffs were too tight.

Stonewall customers threw bottles, coins and other items at the officers as tensions boiled over when those inside the bar were dragged outside by police.

Two transgender women of colour, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, are credited with with playing major roles in the backlash against police discrimination.

Johnson, known for her activism and advocacy of homeless queer people and sex workers, was one of the first to resist police intimidation at the bar, and Rivera is believed to have thrown the first bottle.

More: Chicago, Pride, Pride 2019, rainbow, US

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