VIDEO: Possible Footage of Chicago Gay Pride Parade 1977 Unearthed

Sep 19, 2010 · 108099 views

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From the film vaults of the New York Gay Cable Access Network we have found what could be some of the only footage of an early gay pride parade.  The film is know archive footage […]


  1. jimmyV says:

    Halloween is almost here this is a groovy blast from the past. I wonder how many drag queens recycle costumes.

  2. mododavid says:

    These videos are bittersweet. They look so fun, but you asked if any “old Queens” could identify them. I started wondering how many of them our community has lost. Storytelling and tradition are so important to the human psyche, but we are a people isolated from our past. Our elders have either passed away, gone back into the closet as they’ve aged, or been isolated from the next generation because of a lack of sex appeal. We lack continuity. Now I’m depressed. But, great videos.

    • Many have been lost, but many have flourished and thrived. For many people these videos bring back happy memories, and show us all how much we have in common with generations past.

      If it wasn’t for the low-budget feel about it, this video could have easily been shot yesterday. Isn’t it exciting how big pride has grown? I’m thrilled that so many people come to celebrate every year, even when those very same people shun me because I come across as a stranger to them. Their shyness or rejection isn’t a reflection on my worth as a person.

      Parades aren’t for everyone, and some more mature LGBT folks just simply prefer to quietly sip tea in the back yard with close friends than to get all tangled up in the hullabaloo.

      It’s important to celebrate our achievements, our culture and love as well as reflect on our sorrow and sadness.

      Maybe we need a gay memorial day in addition to our pride parades?

      • interglossa says:

        Fausto, I think we need a gay version of Kwaanza. Pride doesn’t encompass it all.

        Thanks for this. I think about all the people of this generation missing frequently.

  3. Marc Felion says:

    I’m pretty sure this is Art Johnston from Sidetrack doing his best Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters and his partner Pepe.

    • It’s either Art Johnston or Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters. You know he’s a vampire.

    • Okay one of Sidetrack’s bartenders said it’s NOT Art Johnston, since it would have been unlikely to be him participating in the parade back in 1977.

      •• ARCHER COE: I could watch this all day!!!! that is definitely NOT Art Johnston. He was teaching English at some boys school in 1977. Thanks for sharing – I hope you get 44 billion hits on this one!!!

  4. Marc Felion says:

    And the Bearded Lady is famous. Where is she now?

  5. Just goes to show they were just as crazy fun and drunk back then as we are today, only we have a bigger budget.

  6. Gary Airedale says:

    At 5:56 I see a Pacific Stereo store. I looked it up on online, and it seems to be a California chain.

  7. jimmyV says:

    See its possible, nobody really new in a film canister marked pride. It a game of clue you know as much as i do. Gee i wonder if there is a bunch of Act Up footage from the 1990.’s being downloaded and stored and the New York public library.

  8. Gary Airedale says:

    I can definitively say this is a film by Chicago Filmmaker and documentarian Tom Palazzolo. The footate is of the 1976 San Francisco Parade.

  9. Rick Karlin says:

    No doubt it’s Chicago, many of the buildings look the same. The diner on Belmont and Halsted is clearly visible. It seems like much of the footage in the second half was shot from the Baton float. I can hear Jim Flint’s voice. I think this was my first Pride Parade. There’s a quick shot of what I thing is the Gay Parents’ Group.

  10. Andy says:

    I love this too! Great footage!

  11. Dan Biver says:

    Pretty Cool. At 3:52 you clearly see the Spin building and the old house next door to the west.

  12. jimmyV says:

    Gay for a Day is really two films packaged together. The first (Titled Gay for a Day) is an almost amateurish home move of the 1976 Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco. By today’s standards when NY and SF Pride parades have hundreds of thousands of marchers this parade was small and unchoreographed. The men are cute in a 70’s way and the novelty is refreshing in a nostalgic way.

    The second (Titled Costumes on Review) is a Halloween Bash at a hotel in Chicago. Costumes are as elaborate as any Mardi Gras and the audience is earnestly enjoying the evening. We also hear from the Mistress of Ceremonies both in and out of Drag.

    Neither film is great cinema and neither will change your world but it in an interesting time capsule of a period in Gay History that is now gone.

    Was the above review useful to you Thanks to IMFDB and poster Gary Airedale putting it all together

  13. Kevin S says:

    “Gary Airedale says:
    September 19, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    At 5:56 I see a Pacific Stereo store. I looked it up on online, and it seems to be a California chain.”

    Pacific Stereo had 14 stores in Chicago that went bankrupt in 1986.

    That store and parking garage looks like where Gay Chicago Magazine is today on North Broadway?

    • Ninure says:

      Yep, the Pacific Stereo Store was on Broadway. and the Garage was on Broadway as well.

      That sreet has changed a LOT since 1977, which is why some folks who weren’t around back then would NOT recognize it.

      And William Kelley is absolutely correct about where the Slipper Box was back then.

  14. Gary Airedale says:

    OK, I made a boo-boo. I’m still pretty darn sure that this is a Tom Palazollo film, but the “reviewer” on the imdb site might have gotten it wrong. I know people who know Tom Palazollo, so, I’ll post an update as soon as I can confirm.

  15. jimmyV says:

    I wonder if this is an orphaned work as far as copyright? If i was putting together a 60 second commercial for next years pride I would defiantly use it some how. What would your theme be? by the way this is the rote of they followed that day.

    June 26th, 1977: (8th) Attendance: 3000 Parade Route: Halsted and Addison, going east to Broadway, south to Clark, then south on Clark to Fullerton, east on Fullerton to Stockton Drive, and finally south on Stockton to the Lincoln Park Free Foru

    Here is a link to the Wikipedia article on the gay pride parade.

  16. jimmyV says:

    What was the theme of the parade? Was there an t-shirt?

  17. jimmyV says:

    Its kinda funny that the San Francisco Pride Parade in 1977 had less people then the Chicago Parade

    San Francisco Parade Stats
    1977 Gay Freedom Day Gay Frontiers: Past Present, Future 250,000.

    This may answer the age old question what city has the best pride or at least the biggest. But we still don’t know what the theme was or what the t-shirt looks like.

  18. jimmyV says:

    The artist is Thomas Palazzolo and Chicago has been the subject of his work since the early 60’s. Riverview, Maxwell Street and just about every place and event in between. Most recent work shown at Stephen Daiter Gallery in Maxwell Show. I bet he has a story to tell. Thanks to one of the most well informed and educated audiences in all of gay media for all your hard work and dedication in finding who and what I was looking at on a Sunday morning. Know we all need to thank Thomas Palazzolo for the blood sweat and tears that went in to “Gay for A day” video cameras weighed as much as 90lbs in the 1970’s quite a work out. His body was rock hard for a reason. So make a trip to his website and buy something.

  19. TonyE says:

    It would make sense that this was shot in two separate cities. Parts of it look nothing like Chicago, other parts are unmistakably Chicago. The old Chicago diesel buses, cops in Chicago uniform. There’s a brief shot of ‘Parkway Slipper Box,’ a shoe store that used to be at Halsted & Diversey, now at Clark & Diversey. I could swear I saw a green Chicago street sign that said ‘Pine Grove’ which is three blocks east of Clark and about a mile east of Halsted.

    I’m straight, but I’d go check out the Pride parade in the mid-late 70s cause it was some of the best free entertainment in town. Back then it took place on Halsted street and started at Addison & Halsted and went south towards Diversey.

  20. John C says:

    I’m friends with Tom Palazzolo and this film is included on a recently put together compliation of his films. It’s all Chicago… I’ll pass the word on to him that his film is getting such wide attention. It’s odd that both the beginning and end of the youtube video with the credits is cut off. And Tom has the rights to all of his films.

  21. Tim N says:

    The end is definitely Chicago. The church and school in the background is St. Caramel on Belmont, just east of Halsted. Thank you to whoever filmed this and the person who found it!

  22. Mad4McRae says:

    What a fabulous start to my day! I watched this, enraptured, with my coffee this morning. It most definitely is Chicago, and I am pretty certain I was at this parade.
    Roy, darling, scroll down to the very bottom of this little chain of e-mails and there is the link for the video. You will love it!
    I clearly recall the strip on Broadway, where the Brown’s was. Across the street close by, was Crystal’s Blinkers, which became the Other Side, ( I was the ass. manger. of the O.S.til the dipping into petty cash for “candy” money and the feds incitement and conviction of the owner for fraud and corporate theft ended my gay bar career, thank God!) You can see Crystal on the back of a car after you see the queens from the Baton at 7:30. That’s Jim Flint, as Felicia, who turns around in the forefront of the shot, and the divine Leslie Regine’ below her on the backseat. Felicia retired from drag in the early 90’s, and thank God, as we were all pretty sick of her rollerskating baton twirling rendition of Bab’s singing “I’d Rather Be Blue” well before then, and Leslie was hit by a car and killed trying to save her Mom from the oncoming vehicle. It was fabulous seeing the Bearded Lady again!! I loved her.

    The whole thing has a wonderful sense of mini docudrama about it. I like the added background music, for the most part. Some of it has a little cheezie-carny quality about it, but “When Johnny Comes Marching Home…works especially well. That is that Anita Bryant singing, isn’t it? I think so. The egg throwing and taunting by the group of young boys is vivid and real. At one point (8.22) You can hear a kid shout “Hey…You like cock?”

    I can’t tell you how that 10 minutes transported me back to a time when I was a very young queen, on the scene for about a year, always on the run for laughs and kicks and boi-sex and drugs and booze. It was very nearly an all consuming pursuit of my “set”. We had lots of careless adventures. All titillating and euphoric fun fraught with a slight atmosphere of menace.
    It is fascinating to note what has changed and what has not since 1977. Although awareness of what the GLBT community is all about in terms of contributions to the fabric of society in general is way more universal, In many ways the mistrust of, and hatred for, folks outside the “norm”, is as strong as ever.

  23. jimmyV says:

    I found this video after doing a Google video search for the New York gay cable access show Living with HIV 1984 after hearing that is was available online from the New York Public library. I thought It might be entertaining and informative since I’m working with the GLBT community center in grand rapids to develop web 2.0 health and service programming for people living with HIV. I think the heart of the story is how did end up online with out the title and end credits. I posted it because I thought it was hyper local and It seemed like Chicago. I was just there for labor day weekend and for pride before that.

    I just hope Tom Palazzolo gets credit once again for his work again.

    We face many new issues at the dawn of the digital millennium but the ethic of giving credit were credit is due should not be lost.

  24. Ninure says:

    A lot of it looks like where “we” used to do the line-up, on Halsted St> North of Belmont Ave and before Addison.

    Also, back then, I seem to recall, Flats were assembled in Lincoln park and then driven over to the line-up are.

  25. Ninure says:

    Oh, and there is NO doubt in my mind that the last sign is the parade entering the Lincoln Park area for the rally!

  26. William B. Kelley says:

    Definitely all or nearly all Chicago. Parkway Slipper Box (at Clark and Diversey, never at Halsted and Diversey) is shown, along with the Brown’s Chicken outlet on Broadway, the Gold Coast bar’s float, and of course the Bearded Lady (who’s now deceased)–and that’s just what I picked up on a quick first viewing.

    This is by no means the only footage of 1977 or earlier Chicago pride parades, but it may be the most extensive and professional, and certainly the only one I’ve ever seen that was partly shot from atop a float. A recent documentary by Chicago filmmaker Ron Pajak pulled together rare footage of a number of early Chicago parades.

  27. Walker Franc says:

    I was canvassing something else about this on another blog . Interesting. Your perspective on that is diametrically.Opposed to what I translate earlier. I am still reverberating over the diverse points of view, but I ‘m inclined to a. Peachy extent toward yours. And no matter, that’s what is hence first rate about modernized majority rule and the marketplace .of ideas on line . I will are available back once again .

  28. David Boyer says:

    This is clearly Chicago, you can see the Slipper Box at Clark & Diversey. You may notice the traffic on the street during the parade. The city would not shut down streets for our parade, we had to walk on one side, while traffice moved in the adjoining lane. This was my second Gay Pride Parade and there are few familiar faces in the film, but I am trying to put names to a few of them. (How many people would you remember from 30+ years ago?)

    It was a remarkable time, far fewer people, mostly bars and L/G groups, no corporations and smaller crowds on the streets, More like our own family getting together to celebrate at the rally in Lincoln Park after the parade. Lots of drag queens in the film and we do love them, but there were several of us in leather walking theat parade, too bad they did not include us n the film.

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