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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



Daley's Pride Month Reception Adds Awards

This article shared 3789 times since Wed Jun 18, 2003
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Mayor Daley further cemented his support among many in the GLBT community with his annual Pride Month reception June 12 at the Cultural Center.

More than 600 people packed into what may be the largest reception to date. New this year were awards presented to four gays and lesbians who are marking milestones in the GLBT and mainstream community: Long-time businessman Chuck Renslow, new Ald. Tom Tunney, Roosevelt University President Charles R. 'Chuck' Middleton, and caterer Mary Ellen Diaz of First Slice, which is dedicated to bringing meals of high quality to low-income people, including gay and homeless youth.

Daley once again asserted his strong support of GLBT issues, boasting of his accomplishments such as passing the gender- identity amendment to Chicago's Human Rights Ordinance last fall. When informed it only received about 90 percent support, Daley joked, 'We'll do better next time.'

He also noted the city's Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame for its uniqueness. And he issued a proclamation, read by his Mayor's liaison, Bill Greaves, naming June 2003 to be 'Pride Month in Chicago.' The proclamation encourages all Chicagoans 'to recognize the many contributions the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender communities have made to our city.'

Daley's speech was interrupted many times by applause, especially when he reminded people that just the day before the city honored GLBT veterans.

Daley was flanked by politicians and members of his Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trangender Issues, as well as Commission on Human Relations Chair Clarence Wood, who also spoke of the need for coalitions and work on civil rights.

New Ald. Rey Colon, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, and Cook County Commission on Human Rights Chairperson William B. Kelley, a member of the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame and an activist for more than three decades, all joined Daley on stage.

The County Commission holds its annual election meeting July 17, and Kelley is stepping down as chair after serving in that office both for the commission's entire 10 years of existence as an ordinance-created agency and for its prior existence as an agency created by Cook County Board President Dick Phelan's executive order.

'My latest appointive term as a commission member also ends on July 1 or when a successor is appointed, whichever date comes later,' Kelley said. 'I've indicated willingness to accept a reappointment and am waiting to hear about that. I'm just not seeking reelection as chairperson. Now that the commission has completed its first decade of activity, I've decided the time is right to turn the post over to another. Both as a commission member and as chairperson, I've been the commission's only openly gay or lesbian member.'

Mayor's liaison Greaves gave a lengthy speech noting the accomplishments for Chicago's GLBT community, and he listed the honorees. Following are excerpts.


Mayor Daley ... because of that support, this has been another banner year for the LGBT communities in Chicago, and signs of hope are all around us.

On the South Side, the sixth graders at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools voted the gay-themed King and King as one of the best picture books of the year and placed it squarely at the center of the Lower School's curriculum. Thanks to all of you who so quickly defended the children's decision when it was criticized by a columnist in the Chicago Tribune and, most importantly, to Beverly Biggs, Interim Director of the Lab Schools, who stood up to the criticism because, in her words, 'acceptance of all families is a core value of the School.'

On the West Side, Marshall High School has a display of 'Pride Readings' in its library this month, introducing students to such writers as Langston Hughes, Alice Walker, and our own Dwight McBride as well as to our local resource guides and publications. ... We have achieved milestones that should be celebrated.

First and foremost, as we have heard, in January Tom Tunney was sworn in as Chicago's first openly gay alderman. Tom subsequently won the election in February to be the first openly gay elected alderman in the City.

But we have had another great victory this year. On Nov. 6, 2002, after seven years of work by advocates, the Chicago City Council passed the Gender Identity Ordinance. This ordinance significantly increases the scope of the Human Rights Ordinance by including protections in housing, employment, and public accommodation on the basis of 'gender identity.'

There are several people who need to be acknowledged for their work on this landmark legislation. First, Miranda Stevens Miller, Robert Castillo, and John Pennycuff were tireless advocates for this ordinance, and Mary Morten laid the groundwork for it when she was Mayor Daley's liaison and continued to pursue it after she left, and Miriam Pickus, former Deputy Director of the Commission, never let it rest.

Ald. Ocasio and Ald. Hansen introduced it into City Council, and Ocasio was its champion. Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund provided important language that was key to the passage of the ordinance, and Ald. Shiller and Equality Illinois provided much appreciated support.

Finally, special thanks go to Catharine Sikora of the Advisory Council and especially to Lorrainne Sade Baskerville for providing moving testimony that helped sway public opinion in its favor.

We set another milestone just yesterday. For the first time in the City's history, America's LGBT Veterans were officially honored with a full military salute and wreath-laying at Richard J. Daley Center. This is an example our Federal Government would do well to follow. For making the salute possible, our thanks go to the American Veterans for Equal Rights—especially Jim Darby—to Rose Farina of the Department of Cultural Affairs, to the Advisory Council on Veterans' Affairs, to its Director, Rochelle Crump, and to the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus.

Last December, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services made history when it adopted a policy that acknowledged for the first time that there are LGBT wards in its care and that those wards are entitled to a safe and supportive environment. Thanks go to Larry Small of DCFS, Richard Gray, Lambda Legal, and the rest of the committee members who formulated that policy.

The Council followed their lead in April and, together with the Commission's Special Committee on Homelessness and the Office of LGBT Health, sponsored the first citywide consensus-building forum on homeless LGBT youth: 110 people came together that day ... A similar forum for just LGBT youth and their allies will take place [June 17]. ...

Thanks to Dennis Sneyers, Steamworks, the Hearts Foundation, CHR, and others for providing the funds for these forums. Thanks again to Richard Gray for providing guidance in planning the forums. And thanks to Lora Branch, Randall Doubet-King, JoAnne Wilson, Renae Ogletree, Amelia Lopez, and the members of the LGBT Homeless Youth Roundtable.

We could talk about the Center on Halsted, the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, Chicago Collegiate Pride Fest, the important work that the Division of STD/HIV/AIDS and the Office of LGBT Health are doing, and more. As LGBT people, we have a vision of the communities that we want to build and, here in Chicago, at least, our City is our partner in making that vision a reality. ...

The Council this year voted to give special recognition to four people who have achieved significant milestones this year.

The first is new to Chicago. He is Charles R. 'Chuck' Middleton, President of Roosevelt University. Chuck has served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder, as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and vice chancellor of the University System of Maryland. ... We honor him tonight for breaking a glass ceiling and being the first openly gay President of a University … anywhere!

The second is another 'Chuck,' Chuck Renslow. This Chuck is no stranger to our community. He has long been recognized for being a cornerstone of the leather community in Chicago and for his generous and unfailing contributions to Chicago's LGBT communities. Tonight we honor him for achieving the milestone of the 25th anniversary of his International Mr. Leather celebration, which brings people from around the world to Chicago each Memorial Day weekend.

I hope you have enjoyed our refreshments tonight, because our third honoree is our caterer Mary Ellen Diaz. Although Mary Ellen would say her greatest accomplishment is that she and her partner, Margaret, are the proud parents of two children, Thea and Henry, tonight we are honoring her other accomplishments.

Mary Ellen ... trained at the Cordon Bleu, and her cooking emphasizes regional cuisine and local organically grown produce. Mary Ellen came to Chicago to be the executive chef at Printers Row Restaurant. Then she was the owner and executive chef of North Pond Café. She left there when Rich Melman asked her to be the Corporate Chef at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. This year she started First Slice, which is dedicated to bringing wholesome, home-cooked meals of high quality to low income people, including gay and homeless youth. First Slice provides food for the Horizons Youth Group as well as Dignity Diner, The Chicago Recovery Alliance, and the Night Ministry.

Tonight, our sponsorship from Northern Trust, Hyatt Regency, and Rancho Zabaco wines allowed us to hire First Slice as the caterer, and we honor Mary Ellen for her contributions to the LGBT communities as an open lesbian woman and founder of First Slice, a community-based catering service that benefits Chicago's homeless.

Finally, the Council would like to award special recognition to someone who needs no introduction, Ald. Tom Tunney, the first openly gay Alderman in the City Council.

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