Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

PASSAGES Local DJ, media expert and documentarian Levilyn Chriss dies
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2020-04-08

This article shared 4799 times since Wed Apr 8, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Chicago DJ, award-winning documentarian and media specialist Levilyn Marie Chriss died April 1 due to complications from pneumonia. She was 60.

Chriss was born Nov. 3, 1959 in New Orleans, and was raised in New York before moving to Chicago in 1976. She received her associate's degree in media communication from Kennedy-King Community College, her BA in communications media arts and theater from Chicago State University, and an MFA in independent film and digital design from Governors State University.

At the time of her death, Chriss was a Chicago State University faculty member who taught media-production courses as well as founder/CEO of L. Chriss Productions. She previously worked at Governors State University and, while in school, worked at Chicago State University and Kennedy-King Community College.

In 2017, Chriss' documentary The Louisiana Project was released. It chronicled several Hurricane Katrina survivors and what their lives had been like in the past decade. She did the documentary in honor of her late father, Levi Simmons, who died because of Katrina. The documentary was an official selection at the 2018 Philadelphia Independent Film Awards and won the Best Documentary award. It was also the Bronze Award winner at the 2017 Spotlight Documentary Film Awards.

Among the events Chriss spun tunes for was Center on Halsted's SAGE WinterPride: A Cool Night Out party and dance in 2008. She was also a DJ at other LGBTQ events for many years throughout Chicago.

Additionally, Chriss was a member of Chicago Alliance of African American Photographers and Reel Black Filmmakers. She also belonged to The Worldwide Fellowship for over 25 years, Affinity Community Services, Performers or Writers for Woman on Woman Issues, (POW-WOW), Bois2Studs Initiative and Imani African Dance.

Chriss is survived by her children, Jae L. Pettigrew, Alvin Pettigrew Jr., Jerald Lee Chriss and Johnny Ray Chrissl and siblings Johnny Ray Chriss, Andrea Simmons, Valerie Chriss, Sebastian Greenwood and Brandy Greenwood. She was preceded in death by her father, Levie Simmons, and her mother, Geraldine Chriss.

"Levilyn was one of the most caring, reliable, generous and supportive souls I had the pleasure of knowing," said friend and former Governors State University colleague Uriah Berryhill. "I met Levilyn at a time in my life, where I truly needed someone like her to help influence and bring out the leader in me. I remember meeting Levilyn in a class we had together. This particular day I was ready to leave, and she repeatedly asked questions, and I turned around and look at her aggravated. She said, 'Am I disturbing you from being somewhere, because we still have an hour left in this class, and you might need to hear what I'm asking, thank you' I said, 'My bad Ma… you are right' from there, she was no longer Levilyn. She had become, Ma, and she truly was that.

"I was just kicked out of one university, and was starting another. Unmotivated and just going with the flow, but Levilyn helped me. She told me that the world expects young Black brothers like me to fail, go to jail or die and that we have to beat the odds. She lived her life until her last breath. She has encouraged me to do the same, and I will never be the same without her. Ma, I love you dearly, and I thank you for being a perfect role model in my life. In the words of my work mom, 'live your life because you only get one.'"

"Levilyn always had a camera in her hand," said friend and former Governors State University colleague Amanda Martinez. "She wanted to capture the world but little did she know she captured our hearts. Love you Ma."

"Levilyn was an incredibly beautiful person and she will be missed by so many," said friend and former Governors State University colleague Joshua Young. "I honestly cannot say enough about how wonderful she was. She was intelligent, adventurous, exuberant, comical, unbelievably persistent, infinitely optimistic, compassionate, reliable, amiable, sincere, wise, loyal, devoted and humble.

"Our relationship evolved throughout the seven brief years that I knew her. We went from being colleagues to a friendship. She shared so much life wisdom and slowly became a life mentor. Over time, Levilyn became like a second mother to many of us, and we began to affectionately refer to her as 'Ma.' I have seen so few people grind with such persistence like Levilyn.

"I will always remember her scoffs followed by some witty quip in retort to sarcastic comments made by others about something or other, chasing-down random visitors to our department in the name of security, unbelievably contagious smile, warm hugs, go-to-greeting of 'Hello, my babies,' beaming smile of pride when she visited my new home and continuous optimism even when she was going through truly difficult circumstances."

"Levilyn was such a beautiful soul and moved a department at Governors State University to the point that we called her Ma," said Heather Penn, a friend who was also a Governors State colleague, Heather Penn. "She came to us as a film student and quickly gravitated to the engineering staff. I had the pleasure of working closely with Levilyn, and she fit right in. She was always hungry to learn and wanted to know the history, why things worked the way they worked and never passed up a chance to get hands on experience.

"Levilyn was always the student, but yet, something so much more. She could walk into a room and you would just smile because of the spirit she brought to the table. She made you laugh and she would gently challenge you to think of different points of view. Levilyn was wise and always the teacher. She will live on in our hearts forever."

"Levilyn, or as many called her 'Levi,' was known in the community as a DJ that was smooth as silk," said longtime friend Terry Boi. "She was the DJ for POW-WOW every Tuesday night for eight years. As a member of the Bois2Studs Initiative, she helped assist the organization in motivating and supporting fellow queer women like herself that were looked at as masculine. Levi joined me at CAN TV to learn the ins and outs of the production booth. That is where she started the journey to Governors State and then to teach media at Chicago State.

"Bois2Studs will miss our friend as she was on a mission to change the world through the eyes of a camera lens. She always thrived to teach the next generation how to use media to help change the world."

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the family will be holding a memorial Saturday, April 11, 3-5 p.m. at Taylor Funeral Home, 63 E. 79th St. Per the funeral home's instructions, the "time and amount of people allowed in at a time is limited and will be monitored." For more information, contact Jae Pettigrew at 224-310-7977.

Also, Bois2 Studs will honor Chriss in a virtual celebration Saturday, April 25, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. More details about this event are pending.


This article shared 4799 times since Wed Apr 8, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

PASSAGES George H. Gibson 2021-01-06
- George Horner Gibson died at his home in Chicago on Jan. 3, 2021. He was 88. Gibson was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated from Furman University with bachelor's ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Chicago activist Benny Montgomery dies 2020-12-29
- Benny M. Montgomery Jr.—a longtime Chicago-based LGBTQ-rights activist who had worked as a constituent services administrator for U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and former Congresswoman Cardiss Collins, among other politicians—passed away ...


Gay News

Chicago trans woman Eshay Key, 25, dies in Christmas shooting 2020-12-28
Column by Sue Kerr - Just a week after writing about the ugly shooting death of a 19-year-old Black gender nonconforming young adult while they were at a Christmas party, I was hopeful there would be no more deaths to cover ...


Gay News

'Party Monster' killer Michael Alig dies at 54 2020-12-26
- Michael Alig who was at the center of the LGBTQ "club kids" scene in late 1980s and early '90s Manhattan, and whose involvement in the murder and dismemberment of his drug dealer was chronicled in the 2003 film Party Monster died Dec. 25th ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Chicago gay pioneer Richard Cooke dies 2020-12-17
- Richard Cooke, a longtime Chicago resident and familiar East Lakeview presence along with his dachshund Governor, died in the early morning hours of Dec. 12, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. He was ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Ravinia producer Stephen R. Smoot, 57 2020-12-11
--From a press release - Stephen R. Smoot, who produced hundreds of concerts for Ravinia Festival since 2005, died suddenly on Friday, Nov. 27. He was 57. Known for his quick wit and generous impulse to shine the spotlight on others, ...


Gay News

PASSAGES LGBT activist, former Oak Park, Illinois mayor Joanne Trapani dies 2020-12-02
- LGBT activist and former Oak Park, Illinois Mayor Joanne Trapani died Nov. 29 due to complications from her endometrial cancer diagnosis. She was 71. Trapani was born in Corona, Queens, New York City on Aug. 5, ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Joanne E. Trapani 2020-11-29
- According to Facebook posts, Joanne E. Trapani, one-time village president of Oak Park, has passed away. Read about her life and work in the community at the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame: http://chicagolgbthalloffame.org/trapani-joanne/ . and at ...


Gay News

Award-winning journalist Deb Price dead at 62 2020-11-27
- Deb Price, the award-winning journalist and author who wrote the first nationally syndicated column on LGBT issues in mainstream newspapers, has died in a hospital at age 62 in Hong Kong, where she had lived for ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Adrian Ford 2020-11-24
- Adrian Robert Ford, of Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood, died unexpectedly Nov. 17. He was 74 Born in Rochester, New York, on May 11, 1946 to Clarence and Ruth Ford, Adrian grew up in Webster, New York, ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Marsha M. Wetzel 2020-11-17
- Marsha Marie Wetzel, advocate for the LGBTQ community, died peacefully at her Greenview Place home in Chicago, Illinois, on Nov. 1, 2020. In keeping with her faith, she passed on All Saints Day. She was preceded ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Kevin Putz 2020-11-04
- Evanston resident Kevin Andrew Putz has passed away, He was 56. Kevin was the beloved husband of Michael McNamara; son of Sharon Putz and the late Dr. Gerard J. Putz; loving brother of Michael (Connie) Putz ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Activist John Chester remembered 2020-10-30
- Longtime LGBT activist and former Chicagoan John Chester passed away Oct. 10 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he had been living since retirement. He was 78. Chester, who was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Transgender advocate, journalist Monica Roberts dies 2020-10-08
--From a National LGBTQ Task Force press release - "This week, the LGBTQ+ community lost one of our fiercest voices in Monica Roberts, an activist who not only lifted up the stories of trans people and inspired generations of countless transgender and non-binary people but ...


Gay News

WORLD Egypt arrests, Trans Legal Mapping Report, designer dies 2020-10-05
- In Egypt, authorities are accused of using dating apps and social media to track down and arrest queer folks in their latest attempt to "clean the streets," Out.com noted. Human Rights Watch interviewed 15 people who ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.