Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-12-07



Passages: Sexologist and activist Dr. Thomas Gertz passes away
by Carrie Maxwell

This article shared 712 times since Sat Nov 19, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Sexologist and activist Dr. Thomas Gertz died Oct. 28 due to natural causes. He was 77.

At the time of his death, Gertz was in an assisted living facility. He had previously lived at Heartland Housing and Center on Halsted Town Hall Apartments senior housing, where he was an active participant in many activities.

Gertz moved to Town Hall when it opened in 2014, after an accident hindered his mobility. Gertz was living in San Francisco at the time with an in-home assistant, but wanted to move back to Chicago.

In an interview with the Heartland Alliance website, Gertz said, "I really wanted to get back to Chicago. I wanted to be home. The folks at Heartland Housing were ready to go the extra mile for me. They were very welcoming and really wanted to make sure I could move in with little difficulty. I love the openness here. You have a community, and you can share exactly what you want. We have potlucks, and we all gather just to be together. You know, in the 1960's you would never have thought that a place like this could even happen. I'm very lucky to get to live here."

Gertz was born Dec. 4, 1944, in Chicago and raised on the Northwest side. He was an only child in a house with five adults—mother, father, grandmother, grandfather and aunt—who were all Republicans. In a wide-ranging interview with the Chicago Gay History website, Gertz said that was a challenge for him.

As a Schurz High School student, Gertz realized he was gay. Gertz told Chicago Gay History that, due to the era in which he grew up, he had to hide his gay identity from everyone. This resulted in a bout of depression as a young adult that led him to see a psychiatrist.

During those psychiatrist visits, Gertz realized the ignorance in society when his doctor did not know anything about LGBTQ+ issues. That realization forever changed the course of Gertz's life.

Gertz worked as an assistant manager and manager of a floral shop and in the jewelry industry before moving on to work at the Midwest Population Center, where he met his future romantic partner, the late obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Richard "Dick" Bennett.

In 1973, Gertz and Bennett moved to Akron, Ohio to work at the human sexuality center Akron Forum, Inc. Gertz also worked as an office manager in Bennett's private practice during that time. While living in Akron for almost 25 years, Gertz was involved with starting and developing numerous HIV/AIDS organizations and also served as the Akron Health Department's AIDS Support Services Coordinator. In recognition for his work on behalf of the HIV/AIDS community, Gertz was appointed to the Ohio Department of Health's AIDS Advisory Committee. He also received Ohio Department of Health's Outstanding HIV/AIDS Service Awards in 1993.

Gertz decided to change careers when he discovered the San Francisco-based Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. He loved what the Institute was doing in the educational realm so he decided to get his master's degree in human sexuality in 1976, and later a doctorate of education in human sexuality in 2002.

Gertz also received an honorary Doctorate of Arts in Human Sexuality (1997) and a Master of Public Health in Human Sexuality (2004) from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality.

Among Gertz's other professional accomplishments were working for the Akron Sex Forum, Chicago Sex Forum and his own company, Thomas Gertz & Associates as a sex educator, clinical sexologist and HIV/AIDS consultant. He moved back to Chicago in 1997 following Bennett's death.

In 2007, Gertz returned to San Francisco to teach at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality where he was a professor of sexology, dean of students and Sexual Attitude Restructuring Programs director.

Gertz was also a United States Consortium of Sexology, Inc. treasurer and board member; 6th World Congress of Sexology conference coordinator in 1983; American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors & Therapists president, treasurer and board member; American College of Sexologists president, executive director and board member; Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality board member; and City of Chicago Department of Public Health HIV/AIDS Services grant reviewer, among other achievements.

One of his early forays into LGBTQ+ activism was during the later days of the homophile movement. Gertz joined the Mattachine Midwest organization in 1967, where he also held the titles of vice president and then president during his tenure.

According to John D. Poling, history instructor and author of Mattachine Midwest: History of a Chicago Gay Rights Organization, Gertz led Mattachine Midwest during a very challenging time.

"Tom was president in the years right after Stonewall," said Poling. "Those were tough times for Mattachine. They kind of lost their way among the new gay lib groups. Tom kept the group going and re-tooled it towards human service and less political."

Gertz also told the Heartland Alliance website: "I remember picking up a Mattachine Society magazine at a young age [after those visits to the psychiatrist], and got involved with the Chicago branch very quickly. Mattachine means a role played behind a mask, and back then we were all hiding behind masks—but that doesn't mean I wasn't open about who I was. We were on radio and TV, and we held educational services for social workers and hospitals. We had to educate the people about who we were as we fought against stigma.

"And it was a real fight. In those early days, we had to fight to just find a place to meet, to be around other gay people. We were thankful for places like the ACLU—and even for our Alderman, Tom Tunney, because we were welcome at his restaurants. Being welcome is an incredibly important feeling, and it's hard to know that until you don't have it. We also had a running phone hotline where volunteers would connect people with services—lawyers or other referrals—for when they got into crisis."

Gertz was also a NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt Chicago chapter board member (2002-2006), board vice-president (2003-2004) and board chair (2006). Among other things, he was a volunteer captain for the Midwest Region for the AIDS Memorial Quilt Display in 1996, when the quilt was laid out on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

Among his many friends/mentors were Mattachine Midwest attorney Pearl Hart and Mattachine Midwest members Jim Osgood, Ed Louzao, Roland Lancaster and Ira Jones.

Gertz was preceded in death by Bennett, his parents, grandparents and aunt.

"I personally and professionally knew Tom for over 25 years," said Center on Halsted CEO Modesto Tico Valle, who also served on the committee that brought the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt to Chicago in 1998. "Anyone who met him would agree that he was thoughtful, generous and kind. He also was a very intelligent man, contributing to any number of boards."

A celebration of life memorial service will be held Monday, Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. at Town Hall Apartments, 3600 N. Halsted, in the second floor dining room.

This article shared 712 times since Sat Nov 19, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

PASSAGES: LGBTQ+ ally, activist and artist Charlotte Newfeld passes away 2022-11-23
- LGBTQ+ ally, activist and artist Charlotte Newfeld died Nov. 17 due to natural causes. She was 91. At the time of her death, Newfeld was living at the Dobson Memory Care facility in Evanston. Newfeld was ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Singer Aaron Carter dies at 34 2022-11-05
- Singer Aaron Carter—the brother of Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter—has died after apparently drowning at his L.A. home at age 34, according to media reports. TMZ originally reported the news. The outlet said that he was ...

Gay News

Memorial for Urvashi Vaid to be livestreamed Nov. 3 2022-10-29
- A memorial celebration of the life of Urvashi Vaid will be held on Thursday, Nov. 3, at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT at B'Nai Jesherun, 258 W. 88th St., New York City. In-person RSVPs are at capacity. However, the event will ...

Gay News

'Will & Grace' actor Leslie Jordan dies in car accident 2022-10-24
- Leslie Jordan—the openly gay actor who rose to fame on Will & Grace as the frenemy of Megan Mullally's Karen Walker and was immediately recognizable by his Southern accent—died in a single-car crash in Hollywood on ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'P-Valley,' Dan Levy, trans/non-binary panel, Christina Aguilera, Spirit Day 2022-10-23
Video below - Starz has renewed the show P-Valley (the network's most-watched series) for a third season, The Hollywood Reporter noted. The renewal for the series from creator/showrunner Katori Hall arrives more than two months after the sophomore season ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Kathleen Joan DeBold 2022-10-15
-- From - Kathleen Joan DeBold, celebrated DC LGBT activist, died suddenly on October 9, 2022 in Ocean City, MD. Kathleen was born on November 16, 1955 in Brooklyn, NY, to Francis Charles and Joan Marie DeBold. During childhood, ...

Gay News

The life of trans icon Gloria Allen celebrated at event 2022-10-07
- A celebration of the life of noted transgender activist, mentor and teacher Gloria Allen was held on Oct. 6 at Center on Halsted. Allen—who wasaffectionately called "Mama Gloria" by her friends and colleagues, saw her efforts ...

Gay News

Comic and LGBTQ+ ally Judy Tenuta dies at 72 2022-10-07
- Judy Tenuta—an unconventional stand-up comic who often played the accordion and who guested on numerous TV shows and appeared in two "Weird" Al Yankovic videos—died Oct. 6 of ovarian cancer in Studio City, California at age ...

Gay News

Slain LGBTQ+ police officer to be honored in Bradley on Oct. 6 2022-10-06
- A candlelight vigil will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Bradley Police Department to honor Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic's 50th birthday, The Daily Journal reported. "What was supposed to be a day ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Timothy Lamar Schannep 2022-09-15
- Timothy Lamar Schannep, of Evanston, passed away on Aug, 24 at age 71. He was born on July 17, 1951, in Phoenix, and was the youngest of seven children. He was raised in North Manchester, Indiana, ...

Gay News

Queen Elizabeth II dies in Scotland at age 96 2022-09-08
- The Queen died peacefully on the afternoon of Sept. 8, the Royal Family announced on its social media accounts. Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952, on the death of her father, King George VI. She ...

Gay News

Philadelphia AIDS and housing activist Michael Hinson Jr. dies at 55 2022-09-04
- Michael Hinson Jr.—a longtime AIDS and housing activist, and leader in Philadelphia's Black LGBTQ+ community—died Aug. 27 of an undisclosed cause at age 55, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. An obituary in the Philadelphia Gay News stated ...

Gay News

Families and activists gather to honor Jeffery Pub hit-and-run victims 2022-08-22
- On Aug. 21, a brief memorial service was held at The Rainbow Beach Field House to honor the three victims of a hit-and-run incident that took place in front of the Black gay bar The Jeffrey Pub, located on Chicago's South ...

Gay News

Event for Jeffery Pub crash victims to be held Aug. 21 2022-08-20
- There will be an event to remember the victims of the Aug. 14 car crash at Black gay nightspot Jeffery Pub on Sunday, Aug. 21, at 3 p.m. at Rainbow Beach Field House, 3111 E. 77th St. The victims were Devonta ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Trailblazing lesbian activist Pat Norman dies 2022-08-09
- Pat Norman, a trailblazing lesbian in San Francisco who became a "first" in some important city appointments, died Aug. 5 at an assisted living facility in Las Vegas, according to The Bay Area Reporter. Norman, born ...


Copyright © 2022 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.







About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
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     
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.