Rites of Passage define our lives. They signify the progress of time as well as our citizenship in a tribe, in a culture — in life itself. ||| Joyce Jones toasts her 17-year-old daughter Brasha Ford and her date Jacques Williams during their prom send off, a community event celebrating the couple outside of Williams's home. These annual springtime gatherings mark a Rite of Passage and coming out for many African American youth in Chicago. |||| Chicago commemorates these rites in ways that reflect its diversity, but through difference, we find commonality. We are all connected through these formal and informal ceremonies that remind us how much family, love and time shape us. At a historic hotel in the Loop, 17 young women debut in the 56th Links Debutante Cotillion, an annual ball that celebrates the futures of African American women. Off stage, Junior Debutantes imagine the day they, too, will accept scholarships and waltz with young men for all the world to see. In the suburbs, a Muslim woman is married in her childhood home. Ten miles north, a Hindu man tearfully gives his daughter away to her new husband. For her quinceañera, a young woman and her date practice their dance in an Elks Lodge locker room. On her 50th birthday, a life-long Chicagoan sings and dances along with drag queens. A man born in China rings in the Lunar New Year in Chinatown. Family and friends toast a young woman and her prom date. Best friends dance with abandon at the Gay Straight Alliance prom. A young man graduates from one of the best high schools in town; another graduates from one of the worst.
And the final rite: a Catholic priest gives the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to a parishioner who has suffered a stroke. Her son holds her hand.