Friends of the late Chicago-based gay columnist Paul Varnell will celebrate his life in an event April 15, 2012, 2 p.m. at the Etienne Auditorium of the Leather Archives & Museum, 6418 N. Greenview Ave., Chicago. See varnell.lionwood.com/ for more details.
The Website states: "Paul has been variously described as a Renaissance Man, a curmudgeon, brusque, one of the kindest and most compassionate men alive, conservative, libertarian, a gay activist and advocate, a journalist, social commentator, art critic and enormously multifaceted. In fact, he was all of these things and much more. Paul passed from this life on December 9th, 2011 and it is overdue that those who knew, admired and even loved him gather together to share remembrances, console one another and mark the passing of a dear friend, colleague and citizen."
The organizers of this event, Milan Vydareny and Gregory Nigosian, are still finalizing details. As details of the memorial program and possible dinner event become available they will be posted to the Website.
Paul Varnell, a longtime columnist for the gay press, died Dec. 9 of complications from pneumonia and a stroke. He was 70.
Varnell held nontraditional jobs and began his activism in full force in Chicago. He was a board member of Parents and Friends of Gays in Chicago from 1983 to 1984; chaired the Media Committee of the Illinois Gay and Lesbian Task Force from 1983 to 1990 ( for part of that time he was also IGLTF's research director ) ; was a member of the Chicago AIDS Task Force from 1982 to 1990; was a co-founder of CARGO, the Chicago Area Gay Republican Organization, in 1984; and helped to promote the Gay History Month founding in 1994 ( some sources list him as co-founder, but he was not a founder of the event, though he was very supportive of the efforts ).
Varnell was also appointed by Dr. Bernard Turnock, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, to its AIDS Interdisciplinary Advisory Committee in 1985 ( he also lobbied for the creation of that committee ) . When Varnell was appointed, GayLife reported in its Dec. 5, 1985, edition that Varnell "had one of the best records of attendance at meetings of the Chicago Area AIDS Task Force. He has been in relentless communication with representative [ s ] of Abbott Labs, the New York Native, and other prominent organizations at the forefront of AIDS research."
Varnell, who eventually turned his activism and letter-writing campaigns into a regular columnist role with Windy City Times newspaper, joined with fellow gay columnist Rex Wockner of the competing Outlines newspaper for a moment of journalist activism in 1989.
See original obituary here: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/PASSAGES-Writer-activist-Paul-Varnell-dies/35183.html .