Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage



EXCLUSIVE: Community activists launch focus on Center on Halsted
by Matt Simonette

This article shared 2062 times since Tue Aug 6, 2019
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

After several community conversations this summer about allegations of racism from some Boystown business owners and other organizations, a Chicago activist organization is calling for Center on Halsted to drop its security provider, Walsh Security, which has long been associated allegations of racism.

Lighthouse Foundation—a non-sectarian, non-profit social justice organization associated with Lighthouse Church of Chicago—is organizing the initiative through its Coalition of Allies for Racial Equality ( CARE ) arm.

"The folks who came together [in previous community forums] essentially said two things," explained Rev. Jamie Frazier of Lighthouse Church of Chicago, who is the Foundation's board president. "One was that they want to create businesses and not-for-profit centers that center the experiences and needs of Black LGBTQ-plus folks. The second thing was they wanted regular accountability from people who have amassed great resources to serve Black LGBTQ-plus folks. We think that Center on Halsted sits at the very apex of that conversation; they have received so many grant dollars and [so much] financial support in the name of LGBT inclusion. For them to be employing a racist security firm is just unacceptable."

Frazier added that the target of the protest is not the Center itself, but rather CEO Modesto 'Tico' Valle.

"At the end of the day, the buck stops with him," Frazier added. "We believe that rank-and-file folks who work at Center on Halsted are doing a great job serving our community, despite a very high people of color turnover rate [there].

Walsh Security's presence at the Center has long been the focus of community controversy. In 2012, Windy City Times reported that officers at the Center wore hats and sweatshirts that obfuscated the fact that they were not police, for example. Furthermore, various persons of color have alleged they've been made to feel unwelcome in the Center by its security. Walsh Security is headed by CPD Officer Thomas Walsh. In 2017, CWB Chicago noted that Walsh was allegedly involved in a brawl and repeatedly used a racial epitaph at the Lucky Horseshoe Lounge in 2013.

Frazier said that so far he's culled anecdotes and information from about 10-15 persons, including himself, about problems with security at the Center.

"I have spoken to current and former Center on Halsted employees," he added. "I have spoken to African-American LGBTQ-plus folks who have visited or frequented the Center on Halsted. I myself have done programming at Center on Halsted and I've met with staff before. I do have my own personnel experiences with that institution."

Center on Halsted officials, for their part, say that they've tried to engage the activists in conversation to no avail and are committed to racial equity and inclusion ( REI ) initiatives.

In a statement to Windy City Times, Center on Halsted Chief Operating Officer Kim Fountain said, "Center on Halsted is in alignment with Lighthouse Foundation that there is racial equity and inclusion work to be done in 'Boystown and Beyond' to work toward ending racism within the LGBTQ communities of Chicago. This focus is not new to Center on Halsted, though it seems we approach the work differently."

She added, "Racial Equity and Inclusion as a primary focus was put into the [Center's] Strategic Plan. From this, a Director of Racial Equity and Inclusion was hired as well as nationally recognized REI consultant Inca Mohamed. These two individuals helped to form the Equity Leadership Groups for the Board and Staff. In May, Center on Halsted stopped all programing for two days while the staff attended an REI staff development meeting. Inca Mohamed also met 1:1 with most staff and hosted six open meetings to speak with staff in groups about REI at the Center. She will use this information to guide the ELG and Senior Team through the development of work plans addressing REI improvement strategy implementation."

Fountain also said that the Center was "exploring different models for security," adding, "When the Center first recognized the need for security, there were some trials and errors, resulting in today's team which does not wear uniforms, does not carry firearms, and is more of a reflection of the communities served. Several months ago, the Senior Team began to focus on alternative security options like that used at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which trains and employs members of the community. We have also reached out to community partners to ask about their security companies.

"Until a solution is reached, Center on Halsted is also working with Walsh Security to engage an REI training organization that uses a model that we use when we do trainings in organizations where there has been anti-LGBTQ incidents. These are not one-off trainings but rather more longitudinal engagements. Tom Walsh has received a list of recommendations for organizations that do trainings and offer technical assistance, and Center on Halsted will ensure that there is follow through. Thus far, in the several years that Center on Halsted has worked with Tom Walsh Security, all the requests made have been met."

Fountain further acknowledged Walsh's alleged problematic behavior and language, but added that he had made "a commitment to be trained and mentored, to make a public apology, and to continue to meet with the Center to explore more options and his team's relationship with the youth."

Frazier said that before any meetings take place, stakeholders from his coalition will be engaging in extensive research to make sure their demands are clear. He anticipated that after an upcoming Saturday, Aug. 8, community meeting, Lighthouse Foundation would send a letter to Valle requesting a meeting.

"We will lay out our research, ask for his feedback and lay out our demand that Walsh Security be fired," Frazier added.

Lighthouse Foundation's Aug. 8 CARE meeting takes place at 10 a.m. at Lighthouse Church of Chicago, 2335 N. Orchard St. For information, visit .

CWB Chicago's 2017 reporting on the Lucky Horseshoe incident is at .

This article shared 2062 times since Tue Aug 6, 2019
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

COVID-19 Queer-led FamilyQ helps distribute masks
FamilyQ is an LGBTQ-led volunteer effort to support nonprofit organizations and social-justice groups by donating more than 100,000 disposable face masks. Proceeds help provide resources to overlooked and underresourced communities. ...

Gay News

AFC holds virtual 'Gala35' celebration
AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) marked 35 years with a virtual "Gala35" celebration and awards ceremony Nov. 19. Among the honorees were Newsweb Corporation Chairperson, Alphawood Foundation President and social-justice activist ...

Gay News

33rd Creating Change Conference to go virtual Jan. 28-31
--From a press release - WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 19, 2021….. Thousands of LGBTQ advocates, activists, leaders, and allies will, for the first time ever, gather virtually for the 33rd Creating Change Conference from Jan. 28 through Jan. 31, 2020. The Creating ...

Gay News

Feds investigating alleged anti-Semitic activity at Univ. of Illinois
The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced it has opened a formal investigation into a complaint alleging Jewish students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) ...

Gay News

New guide out for educators, parents advocating for LGBTQ students with disabilities
--From a press release - SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation released a new resource to help both parents and educators advocate on behalf of LGBTQ students with disabilities. NCLR partnered with HRC Foundation, the National ...

Gay News

National Black Justice Coalition welcomes new directors
--From a press release - WASHINGTON, DC — This week, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) announced two new senior level hires, Victoria Kirby York, MPA, and Dr. Kia Darling-Hammond. Their leadership and experience will ...

Gay News

Gov. Pritzker, Vanessa Williams to be at AFC's 'Gala35' Nov. 19
--From a press release - CHICAGO — AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) marks its milestone 35th year of service with 'Gala35,' a virtual celebration and fundraiser taking place Thursday, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. The event features an esteemed panel of guest ...

Gay News

CVS Health offering free, rapid COVID-19 testing on South Side
--From a press release - CHICAGO, Ill., November 10, 2020 — Together with the New Spiritual Light Missionary Baptist Church and Peer Plus Education and Training Advocates, CVS Health is launching rapid COVID-19 testing at the Chicago Baptist Institute. CVS pharmacists ...

Gay News

Advocate Craig Johnson named next board chair of AIDS Foundation of Chicago
In October, AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC)'s board of directors voted Craig W. Johnson as the next AFC board chair. Craig has served on the board since 2017, and most recently worked as board vice chair and ...

Gay News

Equality Illinois' virtual gala on Feb. 6
Equality Illinois will hold its 30th-anniversary gala virtually on Feb. 6, 2021. Things will kick off with a Champion Happy Hour at 6:30 p.m., followed by the program at 7 p.m. Honorees will include National Center ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINT Is Pope Francis' support of civil unions just lip service?
Pope Francis has expressed support for civil unions in the Catholic Church. Once again, the pontiff has sent shockwaves across the globe to 1.3 billion of his followers with another LGBTQ- affirming statement. However, this one ...

Gay News

Jane Fonda, Hillary Clinton attend Personal PAC's virtual luncheon
Actor/Activist Jane Fonda, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Governor JB Pritzker were among those who took place in Personal PAC's Oct. 21 virtual luncheon. The reproductive-rights organization's principal ...

Gay News

HRC Chicago seeks nominations for corporate equality award
Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Chicago has announced the inaugural HRC Corporate Champion for Equality Award to honor individuals who have made a significant contribution to advancing equality through their workplaces. ...

Gay News

LETTER Pope Francis appoints America's first African American cardinal
Pope Francis has appointed 13 new cardinals world wide. Archbishop Gregory is listed as elevated to cardinal by his Holiness. The archbishop served in Chicago for 10 years under Cardinal Joseph Bernadine, being transferred to Atlanta ...

Gay News

WORLD Church leaders, Amnesty International, students
Pope Francis included a U.S. archbishop who has made several strong, positive statements about LGBTQ people in the group of 13 church leaders named cardinals; there are also a bishop from the island nation of Malta ...


Copyright © 2020 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 Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
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      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      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.