Several Boystown bars and restaurants have pledged to raise funds this Friday for those affected by Sunday's mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub. Spearheaded by Sidetrack general manager Brad Balof, 13 bars on the Halsted Street strip will kick off the Chicago Pride Fest weekend by raising money to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign set up by Equality Florida for the survivors and families of those killed in the attack.
“I wanted to help create a unified event for the Halsted bar businesses,” Balof said via email. “While everyone in America is affected by this tragedy, it is especially important that we create the opportunity for LGBTQ bar businesses and their patrons to stand united. People want to help, and we want to help make it easy for them to do so.”
Participating businesses include Sidetrack, Dive Bar, D.S. Tequila Company, Elixir, Hydrate, Kit Kat Lounge, Lark (the new restaurant opening in the former Halsted’s space), Minibar, Progress Bar, Replay, Roscoe's Tavern, Scarlet and Seven. Each of the bars will donate a portion of the evening’s proceeds as well as collecting additional donations from customers. The Northalsted Business Alliance and Deerfield-based spirits manufacturer Beam Suntory have also agreed to contribute in larger amounts, Balof says, “and daily we are hearing from other brands and product partners that are jumping onboard to participate in this effort through various means.” The GoFundMe campaign has raised nearly $4.5 million as of Wednesday afternoon.