I got home around 2:00 from Mom and Dad’s and quickly got ready.
This weekend was Halsted Street Market Days.
In Chicago, there are three weekends that are considered “Gay High Holy Days.” One is IML Weekend (International Mister Leather) which is always Memorial Day weekend. The second is Pride weekend (The last weekend in June) and the third is Halsted Street Market Days.
For those who have never been to this conglomeration of shirtless men and tacky merchandise, Market Days is the largest street festival in the City of Chicago. It occurs every August, usually the first or second weekend. It happens on Halsted Street, between Addison and Belmont. Yes, that’s right in the heart of Boystown.
For two days, the street is closed off and the show begins. Shirtless men, Hetero and Homo, adorn every nook and cranny of the street. Peddlers from far and wide display their wares– some cool, most tacky, never cheap. There’s music stages, featuring artists who are up-and-coming and a few that are definitely has-beens. (This year’s highlight was A Flock of Seagulls. Really.)
And then there’s the food. Chicken on a Stick is popular, as is hand-shaken lemonade, and of course, BEER. Plenty of booze to go around.
Add in a dose of (usually) potent sunshine and steamy temperatures, and you have a weekend of sights, sounds and smells that is quite remarkable.
So I dashed onto the El to make it in time for some prime viewing. This is people-watching central folks. The men are something to see. It’s as if they come out of the woodwork for this event, proudly displaying a summer’s worth of tanning at the beach and action at the gym. You can’t sneeze without seeing another bronzed specimen waddling past, his arms too big to hold down to his sides. Oh yes, this is definitely another parade.
I ran into a few friends of mine and then made it to the booth for the Chorus. This is the Chorus’s prime recruiting time. We hawk new members, season subscriptions, potential donors, and people to add to our mailing list at Market Days. Without this, it’d be hard to continue adding
fresh meat new members each year.
So my initial reason for going was to help out at the booth. Yet upon arriving, I could see that things were well under control. So I stuck with my friends and we proceeded to drink, eat, and be merry with everyone else.
What’s sometimes disturbing (and amusing) is the lack of control people have over their alcohol consumption. It’s my theory that alcohol and hot sunny sweltery days do not mix. People are stumbling over themselves, throwing up, and getting into fights left and right. It’s amusing in a repulsive sort of way. Some people just don’t know their limits.
One particular gentlemen accosted us verbally as we were leaving the festival. We were standing on a corner waiting for the light to change, when he slurred “Get outta my way… move it, please”
We didn’t say anything. To him.
The light changed. We started to cross the street.
“Yeah, Go Kerry. Get that fucking Bush outta office” he blurted, after seeing one of us wearing a “Kerry for President” sticker.
“Yes, that’s right, ok, thank you sir,” we said, as we continued to walk past him.
“Yeah you fuckers, better vote. Yeah…” he kept on going.
I turned around and shouted, “Don’t drink and walk!”
We exploded in hysterical laughter.