Stanley Cup Featured in Gay Pride Parade (Pics)

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stanley cup pride parade

As you might have heard, the Chicago Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup (it was all over the news, and the blogs too). But you may or may not have heard that (now former) Hawks defenseman Brent Sopel and the Cup itself were in Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade this past weekend. And we have pictures, and a thoughtful recap courtesy of Jerry Pritikin- a Cubs die-hard who has been known by the nicknames of “Bleacher Preacher” and the “Gay Forrest Gump.” We’ll have another feature on him later this week.

In the meantime, please check out his new exhibit at Roosevelt University’s Gage Gallery, running now until August 13.

For more info go here

Below are his impressions of the Blackhawks’ appearance at the Pride Parade:

By Paul M. Banks

PMB: What was your impression of the impact Sopel and the Cup had on the crowd?

JP: I think it’s  two fold. It gave Chicagoans, gay and straight a chance to see something in person for FREE…that usually has a price on it. And a great many fans are young, so they haven’t been waiting like us old folks. Many of the players are young too, and the fans like seeing young athletes…who don’t have beer bellies, or steroid filled muscles. As well as families with young kids…it gives them a chance to be cheering a winner, as well as spending time together.

PMB: Your thoughts on the NHL’s promotion of the event?

JP: This year’s Pride Parade was great in many respects. For years, there have been many non-gays looking on from the sidelines, but it was only a one day thing. Not anymore, these were friends of the gay community. I seen so many families cheering on for family members, teachers, and neighbors.  Like the different color stripes on the gay flag, these people represented so many ethnic groups. Seeing young kids waving rainbow flags, instead of throwing sticks and stones, shows me of the real progress made over the 41 years of this event.

Many of those families and groups had new Blackhawks jerseys and caps! I need to tip my hat to Brent Sopel. He’s going to be around for a long time, and had leadership quality in Chicago, and he takes that to his new teammates in Atlanta. This is needed in all sports…and it will earn him respect wherever he is. And it was his way of showing respect that he had for the Maple Leafs general Manager Brian Burke, who supported his openly gay son Brendan, who was killed in an auto accident. Sopel is a special kind of athlete, more than a good guy with class and sportsmanship . The guy is a first class mensch! ( A person of integrity and honor).

pride parade blackhawks

PMB: Did you do anything special the night the Hawks won the Cup? What do you think have been some of the highlights of this past week of post-Stanley Cup hoopla in Chicago?

JP: No…I cheered them on while relaxing in my own surroundings. As for the Cup showing up here, there and everywhere, it gave Chicagoans and the suburbs something to cheer as a whole. Not just North-siders, or South-siders. It was a victory celebration that everyone, young and old, gay and straight, Republican and Democrat all identified with.

PMB: Gay sports bars are a fairly recent trend, do you frequent any of these establishments and what could you tell my readers who are unfamiliar with the concept about these joints…

JP: Not so, I was in San Francisco in the 1980s, and on Sunday, all the gay bars were packed. And most of the fans wore team jerseys and caps (a lot less expensive then now) and I knew many gay season ticket holders, and their tailgate parties were something special! They even had silver “Candlestick” holders, and crystal beer goblets,too!  The 49ers knew a lot of their fan base was gay, and they treated em like  Royalty.

Here in Chicago, The North-end Sports Bar has been a great sports-bar for 25 years, and many other bars always tied in special Monday Night Football events. And don’t forget when Michael Jordan put the Bulls on the map, many gays had parties in their own home, as well. THE BIGGEST PROGRESS AT THE SPORTS BARS…WAS THE ELIMINATION OF SMOKING.

ernie banks pride parade

PMB: That’s really interesting, and here I was, wrong in my thinking that gay sports bars only started popping up this decade. When, if ever, do you think we’ll see an athlete come out while he’s the midst of his career?

JP: I hope so, but also fear that they might put themselves in harm’s way. I was 10 years old at Wrigley Field in May of 1947, when Jackie Robinson played his first game in Chicago, and remembered looking at him as a black player, and as more black players found homes on different teams, something happened. Like many other fans, we were won over not because they were different. It was their stats, and how exciting they were to see. I happen to be Jewish, and of course my idol was Hank Greenberg, but I learned something back then.

You didn’t have to be Jewish to root for Greenberg, or Italian to cheer for DiMaggio, or Polish to applaud for Stan Musial or Black to applaud for Jackie’s greatness. They won you over because of their gift as players, as well good sportsmanship on and off the field.

I have to add, particularly regarding this question…I knew Glenn Burke in the mid 1970’s, he took part in many gay events, and asked me not to photograph him. Because he feared it could hurt his career. When the Dodgers suspected he might be gay, he was traded to the Oakland A’s. The A’s were nice to him, but he had the fear of being discovered. He came Out after his playing days were over, but said

“They can’t ever say now that a gay man can’t play in the majors, because I’m a gay man and I made it,” –Glenn Burke, Philadelphia Inquirer

My claim to fame- I struck him out when he played in the S.F. gay slow-pitch league, with my knuckler!

PMB: Nicely done! And both the pitch, and the answers to my questions.

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Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    The A’s…my 2nd favorite team! very forward thinking there, once again they’re ahead of the curve.

    And today I think Billy Beane is the only openly gay GM in MLB.

  2. Jerry Pritikin says

    I believe that is a different Billy Beane… however, many teams have had openly gay people working within their organizations,often in Public Relations. This is the 21st century…and as in politics… the person should be judged on their qualifications and not and not their religions, race or sexual preferences.

  3. paulmbanks says

    You’re right. the Billy Beane I’m thinking of is the guy drafted in the first round by the Mets in ’88. I had his ’89 Topps rookie card. The GM Beane entered the league as a player about a decade ahead of time

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