Chicago Drag March For Change

| Jun 22, 2020
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If you know me from Facebook, you know I’m super political — basically a loudmouth liberal — and with recent events, it’s only gotten worse. Not to worry, though, there’ll be no preaching today — I get enough of that on Facebook. 

Now, if you’ve been following me here on TGForum, you’ll know that the pandemic has put the kibosh on my Julie outings. While things are beginning to open up, it doesn’t feel quite right yet to be doing non-essential activities. That’s not to say Julie time is non-essential — being able to express is definitely essential — but the activities Julie loves to do (shopping, shows, dancing) are definitely in that non-essential category. 

But then, a couple weeks ago, I noticed an event that combined both of my passions — an opportunity for Julie to out in the Covid-19 world, while not feeling guilty about being frivolous. The event was organized by some local drag queens and was called The Drag March for Change — basically a BLM march through Boystown in Chicago.

Outfit possibility.

Of course, this was not a slam dunk just yet. Some prep work was definitely needed. First step was to discuss with my wife. If you’ve been watching the news, attending a protest march is not without risk — personal safety is a concern and if things turn ugly, one could end up getting arrested. We’re both on the same page politically, so she was totally on board, but did ask if she was gonna need to pick me up at the police station. I said, well, that’s why I’m making sure you understand where I’m going — noting that being in lockup in a dress would be at best no fun and at worst, well let’s not talk about at worst. 

The next step was to figure out an outfit and pack my suitcase. Not being out to my kids means that I need to get a hotel room or AirBnB to get my Julie on. Normally, packing up all my supplies is a nonissue, but with the pandemic my kids are almost always around. Luckily, the kids were visiting grandma’s house the weekend before so I was able to jump on that opportunity and get packed up early. As a bit of a sidebar, I would very much like to be out to my kids, but wifey doesn’t think it’s a good idea, since they are just about entering their teens. While I’m a bit ambivalent about her concerns, I have to acknowledge that we are in this as a partnership and shouldn’t make any moves until we both agree. 

Since the march was In June (Sunday the 14th to be exact), I planned for warm weather and selected a couple of dresses that would be appropriate for the heat (see the first pics of previous outings in those dresses) as well as expected to be bare legged. However, as the week progressed the weather forecast indicated that that afternoon/evening was gonna be much cooler than expected — mid 60s. So I needed to reevaluate and find something warmer. I was thinking about a long sleeve top with a wool skirt and black hose — same super cute outfit I had worn back in January. But then, I remembered the glittery dress I had bought the last time I was out – perfect for hanging our with drag queens. It’s knee length, so warmer on that end, but with spaghetti straps, so figured I could just bring along my black cardigan in case I got cold. If you don’t have a black cardigan, you’re wardrobe is definitely incomplete — that girl has been a lifesaver on multiple occasions and super cute. 

The next step was to find a place to change. I have a usual hotel that’s several blocks south of Boystown and is usually a good option. However, since the march was going to end on the far north side of Boystown, I thought it would be a long walk back. Then, I remembered the AirBnB I’ve stayed at almost half dozen times — just a couple blocks south of the end of the march. It’s right in the middle of Boystown and just a couple blocks from the train. Of course, the host remembered me and was happy to have me back. Actually, I was the first guest he’s had since the start of the pandemic, so a bit of a first for both of us. 

Masked and ready.

The last issue was to find a mask — the very bland blue mask that boy mode Julie wears for grocery shopping was definitely not gonna cut it. Julie is way more stylish than that boring guy. I also didn’t want to get makeup all over my guy mask. Luckily, at some random gas station in the suburbs, I found a mask with cute daisies. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for I, but it turned out better than expected. If you’re curious about how much makeup ended up on the mask, it was actually not that much — way less than I expected.

So, the big day finally arrived, and after a morning of guy errands, I was on the train and arrived at the AirBnB by 1:30. The protest meetup time was 4:30, so I had plenty of time to get ready. It’s a good thing, because with the mask I figured I needed to spend some extra time on eye makeup — if that’s all they’re gonna see, I wanted to make my best effort to make that part look good. Of course, I lost track of time and ended up having to skip the last step of painting my nails. I probably could have squeezed it in, but I didn’t want to arrive after the march had started. It’s too bad, cuz my natural nails were super long and the black color I had planned would have gone perfect with the dress. 

Okay, after few quick selfies in the room, I was finally ready to step out that door. This is usually a non-issue for me, but during the lockdown, thoughts kept creeping into my brain that I might be losing my mojo and would have trouble stepping out that door again. Well, none of that happened, cuz it’s just like riding a bike. Walking down Halsted in my sparkly flats, I was feeling great and ready to take on the world. Got to the meetup point and there were tons of people already there. A lot of young people, but plenty of older folks too. All were very clearly from the LGBT community or allies. But, not as many drag queens as I had expected, which made me a little uncomfortable, “Did I over dress for the Drag March?” Being by myself didn’t help my confidence either — everyone else seemed to be with a group of friends. It’s likely that I could have pushed one or two of my friends to join me, but I didn’t want to guilt them into an activity that they might not be comfortable with. I put a call out on my Facebook page and figured who was genuinely interested would have contacted me. 

So, I found a quiet spot in the shade to hang out for a bit. I took that opportunity to take off the cardigan and change shoes — yes into the sparkly heels of the pictures. A guy near me was like, “oh those don’t look all that stable for a march.” I replied, “these are actually more comfortable, cuz those flats are new and not broken in yet.” I also noted that the march was not so long and that I’ve walked the length of Boystown in heels before. 

Well, after the shoe change, my confidence jumped by 200% — heels are known to do that to this girl. Looking around, I noticed a random group of drag queens and decided to just go over and stand next to them, figuring it’ll at least look like I’m part of their group. They immediately started moving through the crowd toward the front of the march and I was like, “Okay, just follow them,” which put me in a great starting point. While waiting for the march to start, some random lady asked if her daughters could take a picture with them. I almost jumped in the picture, but then thought they might think, who is this person? The crowd was mostly friendly and I struck up a few conversations here and there while waiting for things to start. Many of those conversations focused on those fabulous sparkly shoes. 

At this point, I pulled out my little cardboard sign with BLM scrawled on it with a giant black sharpie. The waiting around was in the sun, so part of the reason I was holding it up, at this point, was to give my wig covered head a bit of shade. Trying to play it cool and hoping no one would notice my dual objective. On the subject of signs, lots of people had the most elaborate signs with great artwork and lettering — really put my rudimentary little piece of cardboard to shame. I was surprised and heartened to see so many signs in support of trans lives — “trans lives matter” and “black trans lives matter” signs were all around me. We’ll get back to this subject in a bit.

So, the march finally started and it was all that I expected — lots of chanting, “Say his name! George Floyd! Say her name! Breonna Taylor! No Justice! No peace! Helicopters flying over and several little drones, which I expect were also filming. But, after about a block and a half, we stopped. I think it was to get the organizers and VIPS into place at very front, but who knows. So, there was about 15 minutes of just standing, which was unexpected and not part of my ‘heels calculation.’ Finally, we got started again and as things progressed the pace of the marchers picked up. I noticed that people that had been next to me were now way ahead. The heels were definitely slowing me down, but I was like, “No worries, I’ll get there when I get there.”

The crowd.

At the end of the march there was small stage and a number of people were scheduled to speak. Itching for a smoke, I found a spot away from the crowd and after a nicotine break, I took the opportunity to change back into flats and put back on my cardigan. I then proceeded to rejoin the crowd and get a little closer to here the speeches (see the aerial pic of the crowd, probably 2-3 thousand).  At this point I was glad to be alone, cuz I’m kind of a wanderer in these situations and it’s a lot easier to slip through the crowd as a single. There were a number of times where everyone would kneel down or sit, which was made quite a bit harder being in that tight dress and essentially bare knees — the BLM sign got an unexpected second utility as a kneeling pad.

A lot of the early speeches were about how the white LGBT community doesn’t support drag performers of color, which is definitely a valid point, as well as how many LGBT POC don’t feel all that welcome in the mostly affluent Northside neighborhood of Boystown, another good point. But, the highlight for me was when they started talking about trans women of color, most of which live on the south and west sides of the city. I guess, you’re getting a hint of how embarrassingly segregated Chicago is — started after the 1921 riots, was perpetuated by the redlining of the ’50s and continues to this day even with gentrification. I’m guessing you all know about the outrageous murder rate of black trans women — Google Selena Reyes-Hernandez for the latest murder, right here in Chicago. At this point, I’m gonna digress a bit and write about my first time attending a Transgender Day Of Remembrance (TDOR) service. It was in 2018 and at the Center on Halsted, the most prominent LGBT center in Chicago, which is of course located in the heart of Boystown. It was a nice ceremony, hosted by a somewhat awkward white lady, but for the most part it was just some reading of names. In the end, we all felt sad and then went back to our privileged lives. Well, the next year, the CoH co-hosted the TDOR service with an organization called Brave Space Alliance. I had never heard of them, but they were having the event at a south side church. This was a totally different experience than the year before. While the lives lost were remembered, there was no dry reading of names. What there was, was awards and recognition of people dedicating their lives to helping the trans community, especially trans POC. From that point on, I have been a huge fan and advocate for Brave Space Alliance — sharing their website and encouraging people to donate as often as I can. By the way Lilly Wachowski, from The Matrix, is on their Board of Directors. 

Protesting done, time for a Cosmo.

So, what does this have to do with the march? Well a couple of representatives from BSA were speakers and I was elated to see the mostly white crowd finally hearing about this awesome organization. At one point, they told the crowd, “pull out your phone and Google Brave Space Alliance. Yes . . . right now. Find the site and donate . . . yes, right now.” And, I actually saw people doing it. It was awesome to see less lip service and more action. If you’re interested in donating yourself, and I hope you do, the site is here.

After that, I started feeling a bit fatigued — probably because I had skipped lunch and it was going on 7:30. So, decided to bug out and find some food. I also wanted to get some pictures of Boystown, specifically a couple of the bars that got looted, have been boarded up, but decided to respond by putting BLM murals on their boarded up windows (see the pics). There was outdoor seating at the Kit Kat Club, but the line was too long. So I kept walking south. Thought about tacos at DS Tequila, but then noticed that there was no line at Wood. In addition to loving their food, I’ve been there a half dozen times, Wood was the very first restaurant Julie went to in Boystown. While waiting for a table, the host suggested I grab a drink at the bar. Now, let’s remember that this was my first time out in 3 1/2 months and that I have a tradition of my first drink on a Julie night out is always a Cosmopolitan. O.M.G . . . I was so happy to have that martini glass in my hand. At this point, I put my sparkly heels back on, gotta be glam for dinner, and asked the host to snap a few pics — make sure you get the shoes. Dinner by myself was uneventful, but thoroughly enjoyable. Just as I was about to leave and head home early, cuz it was a Sunday and I had to be at work early, I noticed my earring on the ground. Trying to figure which ear it fell out of, I noticed both were gone. Okay, here’s the most important part of this long story — the takeaway point for you ladies. In this time of Corona Virus and with the necessity of masks, you gotta be mindful about those earrings when taking off the mask — I’m guessing I lost the first one long before getting to the restaurant. 

Okay, Julie out and always remember that you’re fabulous regardless of what you’re wearing.

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Category: Transgender Community News, Transgender Politics


About the Author ()

Julie Slowinski is a married crossdresser from Chicago who loves to make the most of her time en femme when she is out and about. She joins TGForum to share her adventures.

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