To celebrate the end of LGBT History Month, members and allies of Chicago's corporate LGBT groups gathered for a social and fundraising event at Motorola Mobility's offices in the Merchandise Mart Nov. 6.
Three local LGBT organizationsCenter on Halsted, The Legacy Project and StartOutwere the beneficiaries of a silent auction featuring airfare from Orbitz and Motorola devices.
Speakers included Dustin Erikstrup ( manager of special events at the Center on Halsted ), Victor Salvo ( founder and executive director of The Legacy Project ) and Joel Bosch ( StartOut steering committee member and COO of eCD Market ).
Erikstrup shared a little bit about what the Center on Halsted is and encouraged everyone to stop by and check out the various programs and activities that they have to offer. One thing that Erikstrup highlighted was the newly dedicated LGBT senior housinga joint venture between the Center on Halsted and Heartland Housing located just next door to the center.
Salvo discussed the history of The Legacy Project and made special mention of the Legacy Walk and the Legacy Project Education Initiative ( LPEI ). LPEI exists, Salvo said, to illuminated the contributions of LGBT people to world history and culture since this information has been redacted from student's history books. Salvo also noted that LPEI is the education arm of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance.
As for new initiatives, Salvo spoke about the NFC ( Near Field Communications ) technologywhich Orbitz is sponsoringthat will soon be installed on the Legacy Walk streetscape along North Halsted Street. The technology will enable visitors to the Legacy Walk the ability to access additional content about each inductee via various mobile devices, said Salvo. Salvo noted that The Legacy Project will be launching a national tour of the Legacy Wall in 2015. The tour will also be NFC-enabled, said Salvo.
Bosch noted that while attending the Kellogg School at Northwestern University, he made the decision to be out in the workplace right from the start. StartOut is, Bosch explained, an organization that works to promote equality and combat discrimination in the business world as well as empowering people to be out in the workplace. Bosch shared that the Chicago branch of StartOut has had six events this past year and over 100 people attended their first event. StartOut Chicago's plans include continuing to hold events, creating a venture fund for LGBT people to start companies and getting a mentorship program started here like they've done in other cities, Bosch explained.
Also on hand was Illinois state Rep. Greg Harris, the event's special guest. Harris spoke about the history of Motorola and noted that the nation has come a long way regarding LGBT equality, especially marriage equality with most of the courts and state legislatures siding with marriage equality in recent years. As for next steps, Harris noted that trans equality is where the focus should lie. Harris said that the Illinois General Assembly recently lifted the ban on trans people receiving medical assistance via Medicaid.
During the Q&A session, Harris noted that Illinois didn't lose any members of the Illinois legislature who voted for marriage equality during this year's midterm election. Harris also said that it is vital for everyone to stay involved in the political process, adding that sometimes it takes a big election defeat to get people ( including LGBT activists ) mobilized again.
The event also featured a display of images from the Legacy Walk as well as additional biographies from The Legacy Project archives and information booths from the Center on Halsted and StartOut.
See www.centeronhalsted.org, www.legacyprojectchicago.org and www.startout.org .
Note: Carrie Maxwell is also a volunteer with The Legacy Project.