The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and its supporters will celebrate the life of the late Vernita Gray and also will honor Chicago-area LGBTQI activists Tracy Baim and Julio Rodriguez at the 2014 Fueling the Frontlines Awards May 16 at the Mayne Stage ( 1328 W. Morse Avenue, Chicago ).
Special musical guest Toshi Reagon will perform.
Tickets to the event can be purchased at bit.ly/AF14Chicago .
WHAT: Fueling the Frontlines Awards
WHEN: Friday, May 16, 2014 at 7:15 PM ( Reception ) and 7:45 PM ( Program )
WHERE: Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Avenue, Chicago
WHO: Pat Ewert, Vernita Gray's widow, accepting award on her behalf; Tracy Baim, author and publisher of the Windy City Times; Julio Rodriguez, activist and board president of ALMA; J. Bob Alotta, executive director, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice; and Toshi Reagon, singer, composer, musician, curator and producer.
Baim, Gray and Rodriguez share a legacy of service, relentless commitment and innovative vision for LGBTQI equality and rights that has helped fuel the frontlines of activism. All have broken down barriers and forged new paths for LGBTQI equality.
"Right now is a critical moment in the movement for LGBTQI rights. Even as we see some of our greatest wins, we're also faced with some of our greatest setbacks, like the ongoing oppression in Uganda, Nigeria, Russia and — too often — here in the U.S.," said Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice Executive Director, J. Bob Alotta. "The best way to honor the legacy of activists like Vernita Gray, Tracy Baim and Julio Rodriguez is by pushing harder than ever to ensure LGBTQI people are free from violence, have equal access to much needed services and can live our lives with freedom and dignity."
Proceeds from the event will help fund the Astraea Foundation's work, such as Fueling the Frontlines, a comprehensive three-year, $20 million campaign for global LGBTQI rights. The campaign will continue Astraea's long tradition of funding cutting-edge LGBTQI-focused organizations through supporting activism, education and philanthropy.
The late Vernita Gray was one of Chicago's longest and most prolific activists for LGBT rights. She and her wife Pat Ewert were the first same-sex couple married legally in Illinois, Nov. 27, 2013, after winning a court victory that also paved the way for additional rulings, which expedited marriage ahead of the original June 1, 2014 implementation of full marriage equality in the state. Her activism spanned five decades and she was undaunted by her battle against cancer.
Tracy Baim is the cofounder and publisher of the nationally renowned Windy City Times. She also is the editor and co-author of Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America ( 2012 ), which was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and a Top 10 selection from the American Library Association GLBT Round Table. A prolific author, she has penned numerous books, both nonfiction and fiction.
Julio Rodriguez is a cofounder and current board president of the Association of Latinos/as Motivating Action ( ALMA ), a Latino/a LGBTQ nonprofit organization in Chicago and the Midwest. He has also served on a number of other local, state and national boards such as the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, the Mayor's Advisory Council Gay, the National AIDS Prevention Coalition and the National Latino Lesbian and Gay Organization ( LLEGO ).
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is the only philanthropic organization working exclusively to advance LGBTQI human rights around the globe. We support brilliant and brave grantee partners in the U.S. and internationally who challenge oppression and seed social change. We work for racial, economic, social, and gender justice, because we all deserve to live our lives freely, without fear, and with dignity.