The Youth Pride Center ( YPC ) celebrated its 4th annual "Living Legends Gala" honoring individuals who have provided outstanding service to the LGBT community, March 15 at Hearty Boys.
Honorees included Alderwoman and Cook County board president candidate Toni Preckwinckle; Officer Jose Rios, LGBT liaison for the Chicago Police Dept.; Rev. Doris Green; and Ariq Cabbler. Vernita Gray, a longtime LGBT community activist, as well as, Renee Ogletree, YPC honorary board chair, also received special recognition for their service to YPC.
"These individuals have worked to improve the lives of LGBT youth of color in Chicago. They've gone above and beyond to show these kids that they are our leaders for tomorrow," said Frank Walker, YPC founder.
Mark Sikorski, youth chair for YPC's board of ambassadors, said that the honorees have all helped make YPC a safe place for kids who struggle with issue of identity and sexuality.
"That's especially important in communities that don't offer a lot of support for gay youth. These people here tonight help provide that support and are there for us when we need them," Sikorski said.
"This honor means a lot to me because I am part of you," Green said. "And, not just because of my work at the AIDS Foundation, but because I fight homophobia and stigma everyday of my life. I fight it because it is wrong. All of us in this world make this world a beautiful place, and you are all a part of that. And, don't worry because some of these other churches are going to come around. Maybe not all of them, but some of them will."
"I think you guys are our future," Rios said. "My world changing is going to be because of you guys. I also want you to know that I'm not the only one fighting for you within the police department. There are more of us out there. I'm here tonight with the 23rd District Police Commander and several other officers. We care about you guys because we need you to continue setting positive examples in your own communities. I'm honored to receive this award because, believe it or not, I look up to you guys, too."