In a move that may stun many veteran pride-goers, LGBT Catholic organization Rainbow Sash Movement has asked officials to cancel this year's Pride Parade just days before the event.
Citing "a dangerous situation" at last year's parade, the group has issued a press release encouraging organizers to call off the parade and corporate participants to withdraw their floats.
"What I saw and what I experienced [last year], just set off alarms in my head," said Joe Murray, executive director of Rainbow Sash Movement in Chicago.
Last year's Pride Parade saw an unprecedented turnout of approximately 750,000 people, a number that far exceeded the expectations of organizers and police. Responding to safety concerns, parade organizers, 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney and 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman initially announced a new route and bumped the start time from noon to 10:00 a.m. in an effort to curb public drinking.
Organizers later moved the parade start time back to noon after a church along the route complained the new time would prevent parishioners from attending Sunday mass.
Murray said he felt safer when the start was planned for 10:00 a.m.
"There's not a seriousness to address the issues of safety, the issues of drug and alcohol abuse in public," he said.
Murray argues that Tunney in particular made decisions behind closed doors, leaving the community in the dark about how safety concerns are being addressed.
Murray never contacted Tunney, however, a fact confirmed by both Murray and Tunney's spokesperson Max Bever.
According to Bever, the alderman held several meetings throughout the year with neighborhood associations and chambers of commerce.
"A lot more people have been involved in these discussions that just city agencies," Bever said.
In addition, Tunney recently announced that police would be cracking down on public drinking.
Murray said that all15 Rainbow Sash Movement board members signed off on the statement. Still, Murray plans on attending the parade.
"I have no illusions," he said. "I know the parade isn't going to be cancelled."
What he really wants, he said, is a longer discussion about safety at the parade.