Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13



Gaylon Alcaraz: The personal became the political
by Micki Leventhal

This article shared 4240 times since Thu Apr 1, 2010
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Gaylon Alcaraz, executive director of the Chicago Abortion Fund ( CAF ) , grew up in Chicago and graduated from Queen of Peace High School on the far southwest side. Her experiences as a minority African-American student in this all-girls school set her on her path fighting for social justice.

"There were only about 30 Black kids in my class. It was the 1980s and there was still a lot of racism, a lot of isolation, separation. I remember being targeted in certain classes," explained Alcaraz, who credits her family for much of her naturally outspoken spirit.

"The high school environment was very traumatic for me, but it was a powerful learning experience. It wasn't easy, but it made me in a lot of ways. Seeing what is right and what is wrong and not backing down from that and refusing to have my voice stifled."

Alcaraz began as a community organizer, educating low-income renters on HUD regulations and other housing issues. Mother of two ( Nicholas, 21, and Zoe, 16 ) , she has worked with local school councils, neighborhood organizations and numerous youth development initiatives, as well as sexual minority, gender equity, anti-violence and race and culture issues. Is there one issue that stands out for her as being more important than another?

"If a gay person doesn't have healthcare, or a job that provides healthcare, that's economic—plus gender, plus LGBT. It is all intertwined," she said. "All the issues hold high importance. When everything is not balanced the way it should be in society, you have a lack of justice. I could leave CAF someday and work in affordable housing because it is all tied together."

For Alcaraz, even the experience of coming out as a lesbian became connected with her activism. "I had left an abusive marriage. I did not get involved with women because of this, but after leaving the relationship I found I was attracted to one of my co-workers," she said.

Nothing romantic ever became of that crush, but it opened Alcaraz's eyes and heart to the possibility of an orientation for which she had no framework or reference point. She went to People Like Us bookstore looking for answers.

"I gathered up books and all the free newspapers," she said. "I found Blacklines [ which was merged with En la Vida to form the online publication Identity ] and read it from front to back. I called every number in the resource section that seemed like it was for Black lesbian women. The only one that called back was Affinity, and that's how I became involved with them. I went to a meeting, scared to death—drove down from Lincoln Park to 62nd and Indiana. My life was changed from that point." She became a volunteer for the group, writing their newsletter and undertaking a myriad of other duties. Most recently she served as board vice president. "I did not come out in the bars. I came out into activism," she said. Relationships followed.

Alcaraz, 42, returned to college after joining CAF in May 2005. She enrolled in DePaul University's School for New Learning, designing a course of study in organizing marginalized communities. She finished her undergraduate degree two years ago and is now pursuing her master's in applied professional studies/reproductive-justice issues.

"You can come into social justice work early or late," Alcaraz said. "I landed this first executive director position without a degree, but I had a lot of experience, a lot of passion, some skills and I was given a chance." For those wanting to follow a similar path she suggests volunteering, taking classes and networking: "Go to events, meet people, get outside your comfort zone. And follow your passion."

Alcaraz writes about the history and ongoing struggle to protect women's reproductive freedom at

Alcaraz and 24 other activists were honored Wed., March 24, at the Chicago Foundation for Women 2010 Impact Awards.

This article shared 4240 times since Thu Apr 1, 2010
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

NATIONAL Chuck Schumer, anti-marriage bill, drag event back on, military doctor 2024-02-23
- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced his support for the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA)—and, as a result, several LGBTQ+-advocacy organizations dropped their opposition to it, The Hill ...

Gay News

ELECTIONS 2024: JUDICIAL 7th Sub-Circuit Candidate Deidre Baumann (Solganick Vacancy), why she's running, strategy 2024-02-19
- Baumann & Shuldiner civil litigation practice owner Deidre Baumann is running in the March 19 primary for Circuit Court Judge in the 7th Judicial Sub-Circuit against the current appointed 7th Sub-Circuit Judge Owens J. Shelby. Shelby's ...

Gay News

ELECTIONS 2024 Eileen O'Neill Burke talks state's attorney run, judgeship, GOP ties 2024-02-19
- The Democratic primary in the race to succeed outgoing Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx involves two candidates with extensive backgrounds concerning law and government. Eileen O'Neill Burke is a lifelong Democrat and fourth-generation Chicag ...

Gay News

As Chicago prepares to host DNC, former delegates reflect on LGBTQ+ inclusion at previous conventions 2024-02-19
- When Mark Ishaug, now the CEO of the mental health advocacy Thresholds, was a delegate at the 1996 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Chicago, representing the larger LGBTQ+ community was "critical," he said. The convention, where ...

Gay News

Bring Chicago Home Campaign releases open endorsement letter from 100+ faith leaders 2024-02-19
--From a press release - CHICAGO — With just over a month before the March 19th primary election, prominent Chicago faith leaders will today release a letter—signed by over 100 religious leaders—endorsing the Bring Chicago Home campaign to restructure the Real ...

Gay News

ELECTIONS 2024 Clayton Harris III talks state's attorney run, Kim Foxx, Blagojevich 2024-02-16
- The Democratic primary in the race to succeed outgoing Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx involves two candidates with extensive backgrounds concerning law and government. Clayton Harris III is an experienced prosecutor and government leader who ...

Gay News

ELECTIONS 2024: JUDICIAL IL Supreme Court Justice Joy Cunningham discusses running for a full 10-year term 2024-02-16
- Current Illinois Supreme Court Justice Joy Cunningham is running for a full 10-year term this year, following her appointment on Dec. 1, 2022 to the First District seat. Cunningham's appointment was the result of Chief Justice ...

Gay News

ELECTIONS 2024: JUDICIAL IL Supreme Court candidate Jesse G. Reyes on why he's running, judicial diversity 2024-02-16
- Current First District, Fourth Division Illinois Appellate Court Justice Jesse G. Reyes is running for Illinois Supreme Court Justice. Reyes is running against current Illinois Supreme Court Justice Joy Cunningham in the March 19 primary. Cunningham ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Utah board member, Baths founder dies, Fla. protests, DoJ equity plan 2024-02-16
- Utah's Republican governor and lieutenant governor urged the State Board of Education to take action against a conservative board member whose social-media post questioning the gender of a high school basketball player incited threats against the ...

Gay News

Illinois Poor People's Campaign: National call for moral revival demands action against poverty 2024-02-15
--From a press release - Springfield, IL — The Illinois chapter of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (ILPPC) will convene a critical press conference at the state capitol, alongside 32 other states across the nation on ...

Gay News

Tenn. legislators back bill that lets officials refuse to perform same-sex weddings 2024-02-15
- Defying a national ruling that authorized marriage equality, Tennessee lawmakers approved a measure that would allow public officials to refuse to perform weddings of same-sex couples, The Hill reported. Tennessee's House Bill 878/Senate Bill 596 says ...

Gay News

Democrat flips seat once held by George Santos 2024-02-14
- On Feb. 13 in New York, Democrat Tom Suozzi won a special election to succeed the U.S. congressional seat formerly held by openly gay Republican George Santos, who was recently ousted. According to NBC News, Suozzi's ...

Gay News

Equality Illinois makes 77 pro-equality, pro-family endorsements for 2024 primary election 2024-02-13
--From a press release - CHICAGO - Equality Illinois, the state's civil rights organization for LGBTQ+ Illinoisans, on Tuesday announced state legislative and county-level endorsements for the primary election on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. "Equality ...

Gay News

Republicans file bill to ban trans women from U.S. Olympic teams 2024-02-12
- Republicans in both houses of Congress have launched another effort to ban transgender women and girls from female sports teams—and this time, they are attempting to ban trans women from competing on U.S. Olympic teams ahead ...

Gay News

Munar prepares to step away from Howard Brown leadership 2024-02-11
- After 10 years of leadership at Howard Brown Health, President and CEO David Ernesto Munar has decided to step down from his post on Feb. 29. Munar, who'd previously been president and CEO of AIDS Foundation ...


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

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 Transgender 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.