Below is a summary of e-mail interactions between Ellen Meyers, Lesbian Community Cancer Project board member, and Jessica Halem, LCCP executive director. They were intended for Mary York, board president of LCCP and mistakenly sent to someone else. The e-mails were then sent around the Internet and sparked a public response by one of the three subjects.
What follows is Jackie Anderson's letter to the editor.
Windy City Times asked LCCP for a response and they did not provide one. WCT welcomes additional letters and dialogue on this topic from all involved.
Jackie Anderson writes:
The catalyst for this interaction was Jessica Halem not being selected to be one of this year's Hall of Fame inductees. It is important to note that the deliberations of this selection process are confidential, even when the nominee is a friend. It is also important to note that Jackie Anderson, Vernita Gray and Renae Ogletree are not supposed to have the information in the contents of these e-mails. My response to them is at the end of the last one.
From: Ellen Meyers
To: Jessica Halem
Subject: future meetings
Hey girl, I would like to respectfully suggest that, in the future, if there are any meetings set up at the invite of LCCP or a contingent of malcontents, that you not go it alone. A member of the board—preferably the chair—should always be with you. In other words, don't take the shit alone.
Jessica Halem wrote:
Thank you for everything. ... We had already started to rethink the anniversary dinner and the initial idea of board alums being the chairs … no invites had been made and none will now … instead we will be re thinking that … and we have plenty of time to strategize about COAC [ the annual LCCP Coming Out Against Cancer benefit ] at the board meetings. The changes LCCP has undergone in the past four years have been tremendous and needed. I'm afraid many were no one's great ideas but merely the emerging needs surfacing and LCCP responding in kind. And other changes were growing to be more professional and ethical. I am so proud to have been a part of it.
From: Ellen Meyers
To: Jessica Halem
God, I forgot about that alums idea! Can you imagine any member of that triumverate—Vernita, Jackie or Renee [ sic ] ? God help us. You might love this: I finally get Renee's handicapped parking application—dated 7/24. Surprise—incomplete and unsigned! So, had to deal with Vernita on that. REMEMBER: I am so proud of you, Jessica. You are a tremendous asset to the city, community and board. One of the reasons I joined LCCP was to have the chance to work with someone of your calibur. I am so glad I did.
Jackie Anderson's response:
To the extent that the three of us share more than our friendship ( which we share with many others ) , we are cancer survivors, two currently surviving two occurrences, and we have been consistent and enthusiastic supporters of LCCP, both prior to and during the leadership of Jessica Halem and the current board. So it should come as no surprise that I feel deeply betrayed and will no longer be involved in any way with that agency.
Ellen Meyers and Jessica Halem must not understand that being inducted in the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame is not a right. It is a privilege. [ Not everyone currently in the Hall was inducted the first time that their name was submitted. ]
Ellen was free to ask that Jessica's name be considered at next year's meeting. There were 26 of us at the meeting, the so-called triumvirate was only three votes and the vote was by
secret ballot. One of the triumvirate said nothing when Jessica was being considered and Ellen said nothing to support her ( not mentioned in her communication to Jessica ) .
However, given the last comment in her e-mail, possibly she believed that we were going to knife her, shoot her or beat her up after the meeting.
In addition, it is quite unfortunate that an agency believes that it must re-think and stragegize around three lesbians. If Ellen Meyers' use of the term 'triumvirate' is intended to be consistent with its ordinary use then she has certainly awarded us greater power than we imagined. However, there is no need to change any plans on my account.
I won't be participating. Jessica Halem does not need to be protected from me.
Finally, I withdraw my support with a heavy heart. LCCP has been of supreme importance to me for many years. To now know that I have been considered nothing more than a 'malcontent' is horrifying. Yet, it is better to know than to not know.