Ed Negronan activist, Army veteran and substance-abuse counselor who served for many years as a dedicated bisexual volunteer, mentor, leader and advocate in the LGBTQ, Latino and recovering communitiespassed away in mid-July of natural causes, according to one of his brothers. He was 50.
Negronwho was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in 2006served many organizations as a volunteer or leader, including the Association of Latino Men for Action (now the Association of Latino/as Motivating Action, or ALMA), Orgullo en Accion, Equality Illinois, the Chicago Boys Troop, International Mr. Leather (IML), the Chicago Task Force on LGBT Substance Use and Abuse, the Chicago Crystal Meth Task Force, and Compassion Action. He has also worked on LGBTQ outreach to youth with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, as well as street and event outreach for other HIV/AIDS service providers. He chaired Chicago's first Latinx LGBT Pride picnic, in 2006.
Seen by many as fearless, Negron had spoken publicly about his life as a former addict, gang member, and drug dealer, to work against the effects of drugs, addiction, homophobia and oppression.
He had also worked at Windy City Times as a writer and photographer, covering many events. He was a freelance photographer at the time of his passing.
Emblematic of his giving nature, Negron was also registered as an organ donor.
The news about Negron's death stunned many.
One of Negron's brothers, Leo Negron Rodriguez, stated on Facebook, "Our family is devastated! He was loved dearly by many."
Negron Rodriguez told Windy City Times, "Edwho was my best man when I married my wife 20 years agowas so kind and compassionate. He was so active in the LGBTQ community, and I was so proud of him when I learned he got in the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame when he was so young . I learned through his extended family how active he was.
"Also, he didn't mince words. He would give it to you in the raw but, at the same time, could be so sensitive and kind."
When asked what Negron was like as a kid, Negron Rodriguez started laughing. "We used to laugh a lot when we were growing up," he said. "We were jokesters, and did a lot of stupid shit while we were growing up, like a lot of people do. Unfortunately, we were two of the dumbasses [who] got caughtbut we got our records clean. I was proud to see him do that, because I was worried about him."
State Rep. Greg Harris posted on Facebook, "I'm so sad to learn of the passing of one of my oldest friends Ed Negron. We went through the good time and the bad times together. Happily there was way more good ones. Ed was always full of kindness and also unbending determination and just a joyous spirit. All my sympathies to his brothers Leo and Ricardo, his mom and all his family and many many friends. He is gone way too soon and is missed so much."
Leather 6410 owner Eric Kugelman posted, "We here at leather 6410 are devastated and are holding together our family. We have chosen to celebrate Ed's life and spirit and encourage people to do so. There are many amazing pictures of him and especially ones that he's taken.We encourage you to post those pictures online feel free to tag the store so that we can build a great tribute and memorial website for him with all your comments.
"There will be a community event yet to be determined, please give the family time to process. There will be an announcement made on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as in the store as to what and when it will all happen.
"We encourage you more than ever to take a moment and tell the people around you that you love them and that you appreciate them in your life and go in in the spirit of Edhelp everybody that you can.
"Peace & Love and raise spirit up in celebration of his life and accomplishments."
Local activist Emmanuel Garcia stated to Windy City Times, "Ed Negron dedicated a large part of his life to creating visibility and support for bisexual communities. He was also a voice for LGBTQ people in recovery from drugs and alcohol. Most recently, in August 2020, he celebrated 21 years clean and sober. I will never forget his smile, kind heart and commitment to Latine LGBTQ communities."
ALMA Board President Julio Rodriguez told Windy City Times, "When I think of the staples of our LGBTQ + community, I think Ed Negron. He was always someone who was present, committed and more importantly ensured that all voices of community were being heard. His work especially within the Latinx LGBTQ + community continued to inspire others to get involved to make us visible to world. I will miss his hugs, smile and his enduring passion."
AIDS Foundation Chicago issued a statement: "AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) mourns the passing of Ed Negron, who was a former staff member, photographer and fierce advocate for the Puerto Rican community, chairing the first Latino/a/x LGBT Pride picnic in 2006. He supported the health and wellness of people who use drugs and consistently championed the LGBTQ+ community, particularly the bisexual+ community.
"At AFC, Ed worked in the housing department, where he was instrumental in the implementation of the partnership between AFC housing and the Low-Income Housing Trust Fund. Ed developed relationships with landlords, helping to ensure individuals experiencing homelessness found a permanent place to call home.
"Ed also contributed regularly to AFC's LifeLube blog about mental, emotional and spiritual health. He was gracious enough to share much of his photography with LifeLube as well. Ed had an in-depth expertise and joy for leather and kink that he brought to the community as well.
"Through his photography, Ed was able to capture moments at various AFC events over the years. Because of Ed's leadership in the LGBTQ+ community, he was inducted into the LGBT Hall of Fame in 2006. While his profound impact on the community will go on, Ed will sorely be missed, and our thoughts are with his family and friends."
Windy City Times entertainment writer Jerry Nunn shared a photo of Negron and himself, posting, "Sad to hear about the passing of Ed Negron. I just hugged him a month ago at Pride North. You never know the last time you will see someone…"
Negron is survived by brothers Ricardo Negron and Leo Negron Rodriguez; sisters Marisabell Negron and Monica Rodriguez; mother Osnaida Rodriguez; and many other relatives and friends.
Negron Rodriguez said that details of a funeral and fundraiser (to help defray costs) have not yet been finalized, but should be available shortly, adding, "One of the main things for us is having the services in the LGBTQ community because he was so active in it. While he has a blood family, I know how much his extended family meant to him."
UPDATE: According to Negron Rodriguez, Negron's funeral will take place at Drake & Son Funeral Home, 5303 N. Western Ave. Visitation will be Monday, Aug. 2, 4-9 p.m. Services will be Tuesday, Aug. 3, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Afterward, there will be a procession through North Halsted Street in the area known as Boystown/Northalsted.