There is nothing normal about 2020 and the fact that there has been no baseball in Wrigleyville is just one of the glaring omissions in my little corner of Chicago. The other event that has been sorely missed Lakeview are the annual Pride celebrations that take over Halsted Street in Chicago.
If you don’t live in the city you may not know that the famous baseball neighborhood abuts Boystown, or that the Center for Halsted is less than a half a mile from Wrigley Field. Every June for two weekends Wrigleyville and Boystown are home to the Pride Street Festival, the Pride Parade and the Cubs. It’s a magical time to walk around Lakeview. If the street festival happens during a weekend the Cubs are home you can walk through two gloriously different crowds of Chicagoans in the span of five minutes, both celebrating different histories born in this neighborhood.
It’s one of my favorite weekends in the city.
Another little known fact outside of Chicago is that the Cubs host two Pride events at Wrigley Field including one of the oldest Gay Days by any major sports team: Out at Wrigley. I’m not sure how many people know that the Chicago Cubs were the first male professional sports team to advertise in a gay newspaper back in 2000, but they’ve continued that relationship with their neighbors by the lake:
When I started working for the gay press in 2000 via the newspaper Chicago Free Press, my very first sales call was to the Chicago Cubs. The Chicago Cubs became the first professional male sports team to advertise in a gay paper in the country, and I am proud to spearhead that effort.
In 2001, I organized the largest a Gay Day at a major league sporting event at Wrigley Field called Out at The Ballgame (now called Out at Wrigley). From 2001 to 2003, we purchased 2,000 seats inside Wrigley Field. With the popularity of the Chicago Cubs, fewer tickets became available for group sales. Starting in 2004 and continuing until 2011, we purchased at least 500 tickets inside and purchased 200 rooftop tickets. Starting in 2012 and continuing this year, we bought out the new Budweiser Patio Deck as well as general seating in the ball park.
The long and short of it is that the Cubs generally host a Pride giveaway day in June and Out At Wrigley later in the summer. Both days are outstanding and if you’re ever in Chicago for one you should check them out.
Instead of celebrating a Pride giveaway like these stellar glasses from last year the Cubs are preparing for players to report next week. But even in a year where traditional celebrations are few, it’s worth remembering that the Cubs will always have a unique relationship to Pride celebrations, whether baseball is happening or not.