Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



ELECTIONS 2023 Mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson discusses religion, LGBTQ+ issues, holistic approach
by Andrew Davis

This article shared 2244 times since Wed Mar 22, 2023
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Chicago mayoral candidates Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas seem to have little in common.

Johnson, a Cook County commissioner, has embraced a more progressive platform that employs everything from a more holistic approach to crime to the promise of a Department of LGBTQ Affairs within the Office of Gender Equity. His campaign website, among other things, contains in-depth insights and offerings covering public safety, environmental issues, reproductive rights, arts and culture, and much more. Vallas' website revolves around his own slate of issues, including environmental issues, economic development, the pension crisis and crime/public safety (which has its own page), although there's no section on LGBTQ+ issues.

Moreover, the endorsements each has gathered primarily reflects a battle of the progressive Johnson versus the more centrist/conservative Vallas (a former Chicago Public Schools CEO), although each has backers who may surprise people. Equality Illinois, United Working Families, Personal PAC and Chicago Teachers Union (CTU); U.S. Reps. Jonathan Jackson, Danny Davis and Jan Schakowsky; LGBTQ+ Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy and openly gay state Sen. Mike Simmons; Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle; queer Chicago Ald. Maria Hadden; and U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are among those backing Johnson. CTU "keeps paying [Johnson] between $83,000 and $103,000 a year, public records show," according to Politico Illinois Playbook.

Vallas has garnered support from the Fraternal Order of Police Chicago #7, the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois; former Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White; former mayoral candidates Gery Chico, Ja'Mal Green and Willie Wilson; U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush; Chicago Tribune; former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn; openly gay Chicago Alds. Raymond Lopez and Tom Tunney; and Alderman-elect Bennett Lawson (who is succeeding Tunney in the 44th Ward.). He also has received financial support from individuals such as Donald Trump appointee and campaign official Ron Gidwitz (per a Johnson press release).

Windy City Times recently spoke with Johnson about religion, LGBTQ+ rights and his opponent.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Windy City Times: You're the son of a minister [yet] you're pretty progressive and certainly pro-LGBTQ+. Were you raised that way?

Brandon Johnson: Well, let me take it one step further: My grandfather was a pastor as well in one of the most conservative denominations in the country.

My parents were also foster parents, so we constantly had people staying with us for a variety of reasons. But I'll never forget Julia and Vanessa, and they dropped their children off. At the time, we didn't know that Julia and Vanessa were ready to live their truth as lesbians. My parents were pastors of a denomination that had a very conservative line.

Julia and Vanessa were part of our family and part of our church—and Vanessa's son, Ron, was pretty angry; Julia's daughters didn't have to be with us as long or much, but Ron actually had to move in with us because it was difficult for him to have this shift in his life.

We learned early in life that our responsibility was to be loving people. We weren't necessarily raised to engage or be that understanding of LGBTQ+ issues, specifically. We didn't even realize the gravity of [the situation] until we got older. Our home was a spot where people could not only be themselves, but also be loved and supported. It wasn't about acceptance or tolerance; it was about treating people in a righteous way. We don't pass judgment.

As I grew older and matured, [that upbringing] helped me form a platform I'm prepared to use as mayor of Chicago. We all had that one relative, but my mother and father were ahead of their time. That's what you do when you love someone—you don't condemn or judge.

WCT: What do you think is the biggest problem for the LGBTQ+ community in Chicago?

Johnson: For me—especially in my roles as teacher, organizer and, now, Cook County commissioner—it seems that we don't seem to grasp the intersectionality of just everything.

When I was teaching middle school, I had a student who was clear about his identity and sexuality. He had real struggles with his mental health; he struggled with housing and was certainly insecure; and he struggled to get around. So it was hard for him to find a place to lay his head. So when I became a Cook County commissioner, it was important for me to look at how we support the LGBTQ+ community in a holistic way. So that involves having health centers, making sure the educational system has support and making sure there's housing available, right?

I don't want us to get too far ahead of ourselves, but when I worked on the budget for Black Lives [Coalition, consisting of SOUL, The People's Lobby, Chicago Community Bond Fund, National Nurses United and the Shriver Center on Poverty Law] and the equity resources from county government, we put down $100 million into violence prevention—and a good portion of that money went into housing support. There's an organization on the West Side of Chicago called Covenant House; the young people who have housing support through this organization are overwhelmingly LGBTQ+.

For me, one of the issues for the LGBTQ+ community that's interconnected to all the other dynamics is the disproportionate amount of LGBTQ+ homeless people we have—especially Black and Brown individuals.

As a whole, we have come a long way. But there's still this distance, especially in communities of color. I want the safety of Black trans women to be recognized and supported in a real way. But there is a societal approach, when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, that I think is antiquated. When I was growing up in the '80s, you could only talk about HIV/AIDS.

WCT: On your [campaign] website, you said that you would use the CPD's "existing resources to improve the solve rate of murders of trans individuals in Chicago." How exactly will you do that, though?

Johnson: So there's one dynamic I want to make sure I lay out: My platform is not about continually investing in failed strategies. And when I talk about protection and prevention, that's the heart and soul of my administration.

Don't get me wrong: We have to solve crime within Black communities, period. The clearance rate is abysmal—and it's even worse when it comes to Black trans women. When I talk about protection and prevention, having an office dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community is tantamount to protecting and preventing [violence]. Now you have an office that makes sure we secure the resources and expand what we have under the current administration.

It's a remarkable testament to Chicago that we elected a Black woman who's a member of the LGBTQ+ community as mayor. What I don't want is this continuation of being good on some issues and bad on others. There's such an emphasis on policing and incarceration; these policies have not brought about the type of safety our communities deserve.

My focus is going to be in investments. [We need to] invest in stabilized housing, public transportation, the education system and LGBTQ+ services. I'm so focused on the intersectionality of all this because—as a public-school teacher and as a child brought up in a home where parents made sure people are seen and valued—the more we isolate and segment our approach to our work, the less likely we are to make sure it's inclusive and holistic.

The way you keep people safe is by providing real economic security—and economic security comes from housing, jobs, transportation and access to healthcare.

WCT: If you could ask your opponent one question and he had to answer truthfully, what would that question be?

Johnson: Does he really believe in teaching the full history of all of our experiences in America?

What concerns me about my opponent is that anyone who would be reticent to having Black history taught in schools… There are so many other dynamics that are created as a result of blocking that history. Sometimes in the Black community, we limit our discussions to [LGBTQ+ icons such as] Bayard Rustin and James Baldwin.

People talk about the budget for Black Lives [Coalition]. This is the problem when people don't read or study history. The Freedom Budget for All [Americans] was also a Black idea that led to the Great Society. [Note: Leaders such as Rustin, Martin Luther King Jr., economic advisors and others began working on this budget in the mid-1960s.] This led to liberation for people.

I feel that you're finally allowing me to be a social-studies teacher—and I'm so charged right now. [Laughs]

But my opponent is afraid of the history of this country. I don't know if he's as thoughtful about what [teaching a full history] would mean for the LGBTQ+ community—and what that would mean for the larger struggle for liberation.

Brandon Johnson's campaign website is .

Note: Windy City Times has repeatedly reached out to mayoral candidate Paul Vallas.

This article shared 2244 times since Wed Mar 22, 2023
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

NATIONAL Google Doodle, drag laureate, Nebraska bill, NYC AIDS Walk 2023-05-26
- D.C. poet/activist/journalist Ivy Young passed away at age 75, per a press release. Among other things, Young worked at Chicago's VISTA; the Center for Black Education and Drum and Spear Book Store in D.C.; the ...

Gay News

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy denounces violent acts stemming from political speech 2023-05-26
--From a press release - SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, along with members of the House Dobbs Working Group responded to increasing acts of violence and threats stemming from political attacks on reproductive rights and the LGBTQ community ...

Gay News

Illinois Healthcare Cultural Competency Coalition applauds passage of HB 2450 2023-05-25
--From a press release - The Illinois Healthcare Cultural Competency Coalition applauds passage by the Illinois General Assembly of legislation that will ensure cultural competency is part of continuing medical education for a range of healthcare providers in Illinois. "We are ...

Gay News

Board of Commissioners unanimously passes Bodily Autonomy Ordinance Amendment with support of Equality Illinois, ACLU Illinois 2023-05-25
--From a press release - Chicago, Ill. — May 25th 2023 — Today, the Cook County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed an amendment to the Human Rights Ordinance ensuring the protection of all individual's right to their own bodily autonomy. The ...

Gay News

Louisiana Senate committee kills anti-trans bill aimed at minors 2023-05-24
- The Louisiana Senate Health & Welfare Committee has stopped an anti-trans bill aimed at minors, WBRZ News 2 in Baton Rouge has reported. Republican committee chairman Fred Mills joined Democrats on May 24 to kill Louisiana House Bill 648—a bill tha ...

Gay News

HRC condemns Ohio state senate for passing education censorship bill 2023-05-24
--From a press release - Columbus, Ohio — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned the Ohio State Senate for passing ...

Gay News

Target removes some Pride merchandise after receiving threats 2023-05-24
- Ahead of Pride Month (June), Target is pulling some of its LGBTQ+ merchandise after facing "threats" and backlash from customers, Politico reported. Target's website features hundreds of items as part of its Pride Collection but will ...

Gay News

GLAAD, Equality Florida release resource of DeSantis' record of anti-LGBTQ+ info, actions 2023-05-23
--From a press release - (Tuesday, May 23, 2023) GLAAD and Equality Florida released the LGBTQ record of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an ongoing documentation of DeSantis' policies and rhetoric targeting LGBTQ people and issues. Read the DeSantis LGBTQ record on ...

Gay News

Advocates applaud Illinois General Assembly passage of House Bill 1286 for gender-neutral multiple-occupancy restrooms 2023-05-19
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Advocates celebrated passage by the Illinois General Assembly of House Bill 1286, legislation that will reduce barriers for businesses serving their communities and customers by allowing for the ...

Gay News

Gay lawyer appointed as Cook County judge 2023-05-19
- On May 18, Justice Joy V. Cunningham and the Illinois Supreme Court announced the appointment of Edward J. Underhill as an at-large Cook County Circuit judge, according to a press release. Underhill was appointed to fill ...

Gay News

HB 1286 would allow gender-inclusive multi-occupancy restrooms, Chicago groups respond 2023-05-19
--From a press release - Statement from AIDS Foundation Chicago, Equality Illinois, and Pride Action Tank regarding HB 1286 to allow gender-inclusive multi-occupancy restrooms: We applaud the Illinois Senate for passing HB 1286 and urge the Illinois House to act expeditiously ...

Gay News

NATIONAL DHS violence report, queer Democratic club, trans influencer dies, vigil, GLSEN Awards 2023-05-19
- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that threats of violence against the LGBTQ+ community are increasing—and intensifying, according to ABC News. "These issues include actions linked to drag-themed events ...

Gay News

General Assembly moves closer to passing optional all-gender bathroom bill 2023-05-19
- On May 18, the Illinois Senate passed an amended version of a bill that would allow businesses and public institutions to provide multi-occupant all-gender bathrooms if they so choose, The Daily Herald reported. House Bill 1286 ...

Gay News

White House releases statement by President Biden on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia 2023-05-18
--From a press release - From the White House, May 17, 2023/B> Everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and equality—no matter whom they love, or how they identify. On the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, we reaffirm ...

Gay News

Abortion news: North Carolina, Montana, Nancy Pelosi 2023-05-17
- On May 16, North Carolina's GOP-led General Assembly moved to ban most abortions after 12 weeks, overriding a veto from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. The state House voted 72-48, along party lines, hours after the state ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.