More than 150 people gathered in Chicago Aug. 6 to brainstorm about "LGBTQ Rights as Human Rights," a project of the new nonprofit Global Act, a mainstream charity that hopes to bring together people from all walks of life, including nonprofits and businesses, to brainstorm new solutions to complex issues.
The featured speakers at the event were Gautam Raghavan, the White House liaison to the LGBT and Asian/Pacific Islander communities, and Mona Noriega, commissioner of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations.
This Chicago event focused on these local charities: Affinity, Chicago House, Center on Halsted, Howard Brown Health Center, Equality Illinois, and Lurie Children's Hospital Division of Adolescent Medicine & Center for General Sexuality and HIV Prevention. Also attending were representatives from the Windy City Times LGBTQ Homeless Youth Summit.
The highlight of the event was a performance by the Grammy-winning band FUN, which has partnered with Global Act through the band's Ally Coalition charity. They performed several of their hits, plus a song from the new album they are working on. The group Witness Uganda also entertained the attendees and discussed their mission to help Ugandans, including LGBTQ people. Witness Uganda, created by Griffin Matthews and Matt Gould ( who are also partners in life ), is a New York-bound play and this was their first performance as a Broadway-bound cast.
There was additional entertainment from musicians Jon and Valerie Guerra, the Low Down Brass Band, poets Malcolm London and Rafael Casal, and DJ Zeke Thomas. Chef Kevin Hickey served a rooftop dinner for the crowd, which represented a wide cross-section of the LGBTQ and allied community.
The local business community also supported the event, which was held in the West Loop at IgniteGlass and Moonlight Studios. Art and music were ever-present, with a live mural painted by Erik Debat outside during dinner, and expert artists from Ink Factory took words they heard throughout the day and made them into creative designs. Other sponsors were Event Creative, Bucket Feet, Lettuce Entertain You, RockIt Ranch Productions, Tiesta Tea, Chapin Coffee, Vanille, Vorzo, Akta, Uber, Context Media, and Nervana Group.
The brainstorming portion of the day was meant to lead to new ideas for each of the non-profits, who committed to work with Global Act to help followup on the recommendations. Global Act hopes to facilitate new connections for the groups, making implementation of new ideas possible.
Global Act was launched this summer by Kevin Conroy Smith, who is based in Chicago, and Barry Eugene Avery Johnson, from New York. Smith is a longtime networker who set at age 16 to meet three new people a day, allowing him to amass thousands of contacts around the world to work on special projects. Johnson has worked in President Obama's White House as a senior advisor on several projects, including in the U.S. Department of Commerce as senior advisor on economic development, and as founding executive director of Select USA, to promote inward investment in the U.S.
Global Act plans to have events all over the U.S. and in other countries, with their focus this year on LGBTQ rights. See www.globalact.org .
Windy City Times videos at the links:
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