The 2023 class of Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame inductees was revealed August 31 at a press conference at Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted St. Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame Co-Chair Tarrina Dikes and Board Emeritus and 1992 Inductee Gary Chichester announcing the latest individuals, organizations and allies to be inducted.
New inductees include Women and Children First Co-Founder and former Co-Owner Linda Bubon; LGBTQ+-focused journalist and food writer Andrew Davis, who is also former executive editor of Windy City Times; longtime high-end Jan Dee Custom Jewelry Owner Jan Dee; E3 Radio (the only radio station that exclusively plays queer music and reports on queer news) Founder, #AnnasGotAWord podcast host and OUTspoken LGBTQ+ Stories Co-Host Anna DeShawn; and Chicago Symphony Chorus Founder, Conductor and Chorus Director Margaret Hillis who is being inducted posthumously.
Additional inductees include Gay Horizons' (now Center on Halsted) first mental health professional and later Executive Director Joe Loundy; Chicago philanthropic, corporate and civic events planner Robert Neubert; LGBTQ+ advocate, philanthropist, Tawani Foundation and Tawani Enterprises Founder, Pritzker Military Library Founder and veteran Col. Jennifer Pritzker; Chicago Chapter of Queer Nation Co-Founder; 1990 Chicago Democratic Mayoral Candidate and drag queen Terence Alan Smith, aka Joan Jett Blakk; and the first out Black gay man to be Chicago Poet Laureate and University of Chicago Arts and Public Life Artist-In-Residence and award-winning teaching artist avery r. young.
Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago Gender Development Program will receive the Friend of the Community honor for its work as the Midwest's first and largest multidisciplinary program that provides, according to Chicago's LGBT Hall of Fame press release, "a full range of medical, behavioral health, and social support services to gender-diverse children, transgender adolescents, and other patient-families navigating issues related to gender and gender development."
The world's oldest and largest Black LGBTQ+ focused arts organization, Black Alphabet, will receive the Organization honor this year. Black Alphabet, according to Chicago's LGBT Hall of Fame press release, "began as a conversation about the lack of exposure of films that explore the Black LGBTQ experience birthed the Black Alphabet Film Festival, Chicago's first Black LGBTQ film festival, and has expanded to Black Alphabet's new mission: to promote social equity awareness and education in all aspects of life for the Black LGBTQ+ community using media and the creative arts to promote healthy and whole lifestyles within the Black LGBTQ+ community."
Addressing the crowd, DeShawn (the sole inductee to attend the press conference) said, "I have been in shock for the past 24 hours since I got the call … The first call I made was to my wife, but then I had to call T[arrina] and then I had to call Gary."
DeShawn also told Windy City Times that, "This was one of those moments that I had thought about what it could mean…but [I had] no real sense of when it would happen. … It shows that what I have done has meant something to some people. What is the point of all of this if it is not to make an impact for people I care about and serve? It puts a stamp on the things that I am doing rightand at the right time. I am in the right space and that feels really good and affirming."
These new members were chosen among the slate of 50-plus candidates nominated by the general public and winnowed down by a selection committee made up of 29 previous Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame inductees.
Chicago holds the distinction of being the only municipality with a city-sponsored LGBT Hall of Fame. The now non-profit was founded in 1991 and according to the press release announcing this event "is to honor people and entities, nominated by the community, who have made significant contributions to the quality of life or well-being of the LGBT community in Chicago."
The official induction ceremony will take place Tuesday, October 3 at the Chicago History Museum with Mayor Brandon Johnson scheduled to preside. That event is free and open to the public.
See chicagolgbthalloffame.org/ .
See detailed press release at: chicagolgbthalloffame.org/hall-of-fame-announces-2023-slate-of-inductees/ .