Chicago's 41st annual gay
pride parade included recently out country music singer Chely Wright,
NHL player Brent Sopel and “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks.
In Sunday's parade, which ran down
North Halsted Street in Chicago's north side gay neighborhood known
as Boystown, former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Sopel rode atop the
Chicago Gay Hockey Association (CGHA) float proudly carrying the
Sopel rode the float with his wife
Kelly by his side. The couple said they participated in the parade to
honor the memory of Brendan Burke, the son of Toronto Maple Leafs
General Manager Brian Burke. Brendan Burke, who died in a car
accident in February, announced last year he's gay.
“I had a great time, way better than
I expected,” Sopel
told gay sports website Outsports.com.
“I wasn't here to advocate, but if
coming here helps break down walls in the meantime, so be it. I was
here for Brendan,” he said. “For him to come out, and then die a
few months later … when you're a parent and you have to bury a kid,
it's just heartbreaking.”
Country music star Chely Wright served
as the parade's grand marshal. The 39-year-old singer-songwriter
came out gay in an interview with People magazine in May. A
secret she says she had vowed to take to her grave.
“And here I am, walking on stage,
arms in the air, you know? 'I'm gay! I'm really gay!' I don't feel
like I just came out, I feel like I came together,” she told
Now blog Redeye.
The Chicago Cubs are the first Major
League Baseball team to have an openly gay owner. Laura Ricketts, a
member of the Ricketts family, whose members completed their purchase
of the sports landmark last year, is a prominent gay rights advocate.
“Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks rode in a
convertible with members of the Ricketts family.
“I know the area – Boystown – and
they've all been very nice and friendly with me,” Banks told the
Chicago Sun-Times. “I want to show that I have compassion