Community members gathered at Illinois Holocaust Museum for a Pride month celebration June 15 that featured stories told by LGBTQ+ Chicagoans as well as their allies.
The stories came under the auspices of the monthly OUTspoken storytelling program, which are usually held at the Lake View bar Sidetrack but were moved to the Museum for an event that sought to briefly revive the spirit of the Eldorado nightclub, a Weimar-era hotspot where LGBTQ+ Berliners were free to be themselves. The event was hosted by E3 radio Founder/CEO Anna DeShawn.
Storytellers for the evening included comedian/writer Elizabeth Gomez, who focused on her child's coming out as transgender; Pastor Charles Straight of Faith United Methodist Church in Dolton, who discussed Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church's establishment of an AIDS resource ministry in the '80s; and writer Andrea Change, who spoke on the importance of being an ally for the LGBTQ+ community.
Other storytellers included writer Sean Robbins who read a haunting monologue from his play-in-progress, Sheridan Road; University of Chicago student Max Pizer-Lippitz, who reminisced about growing up with two fathers; and activist Jackie Kaplan-Perkins, who spoke about how she and her wife journeyed to Russia to adopt their son.
Museum Director of Education Leah Rauch told Windy City Times that the El Dorado was chosen as a theme for the evening because, "This year we really wanted to focus on celebrating LGBTQ+ life, not just focusing on the Holocaust and the darker aspects of it, [and] not just focusing on LGBTQ+ people as victims. … It is fascinating to look at Berlin in the 1920sit really was the center of LGBTQ+ life internationally. There were all these clubs and cafes, places that people could go and live openly, and not fear any repercussions for who they were."
Lauch added that, given the socio-political opposition the LGBTQ+ community has had to endure at various points in history, "Queer joy is revolutionary. That was true in the 1920s in Berlin. It's true in the 2020s today."