DOWNTOWN — A vintage documentary reveals the bravery of Chicago’s LGBTQ people as they face neo-Nazis during the 1982 Pride Parade.
The documentary, called “Pink Triangles Rising,” shows people marching in and chanting at the 1982 Pride Parade. That year, about 30,000 people attended the parade, which was then just 13 years old, according to a Chicago Free Press story. The film was made by Dan Dinello and Tom Corboy and recently released through the work of the Media Burn Archive, a nonprofit that restores and distributes the work of activists and artists.
The ’82 parade saw a huge surge in attendance from past events, and it was fueled by queer people and allies looking to counteract an anti-gay neo-Nazi rally being held near the parade route, according to the Windy City Times. Clips show a group of neo-Nazis waving flags and holding shields with swastikas on them, separated from the Pride attendees by a fence and police officers.
The attendees didn’t shy away from the neo-Nazis, chanting anti-Nazi phrases, the documentary shows.
“Remember Auschwitz! Nazis off the streets!” crowds chant, referencing the infamous death camp where more than 1 million people were killed by Nazis.
At another point, attendees chant, “No room for Nazis! Chicago is a gay town!”
The video also highlights the love and bravery among the event’s attendees: They publicly hold hands, chant for equality, wave pro-LGBTQ banners, dance and kiss — all during a time when queer people faced brutal and open discrimination.
The attendees are also shown encouraging each other to organize so they can work together for political change.
“What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do? We’re gonna stop the Nazis, No. 1!” one man tells the crowd as people cheer. “But No. 2, we’re gonna organize! We’re gonna become a coalition of people who understand the issues, who know what it’s all about and whose gonna stand up and say, ‘Hey, I’m not black! I’m not white! I’m not this, I’m not that. You know what I am? I’m a guy that’s being treated wrong!'”
The name of the short documentary, “Pink Triangles Rising,” is itself a reference to the way Nazis persecuted gay people: Thousands of people were detained in concentration camps and forced to wear pink triangles that identified them as gay. More recently, the pink triangle has been reclaimed and is used as a symbol of gay pride.
“Let us hope that our families, our brothers and sisters and especially our parents, will someday understand that we are, indeed, just like they are,” one person says toward the end of the documentary. “Just as productive as they are, just as wonderful as they are — and maybe even a little more.”
This year’s Pride Parade is Sunday. The parade now attracts more than 1 million people who advocate for queer causes and celebrate LGBTQ history.