On May 31, the LGBTQ networking organization Out of the Office hosted its Pride kickoff and annual fundraiser in the I/O Bar atop the Godfrey Hotel, 127 W. Huron St. The event paid tribute to Legacy Project, the Chicago-based initiative that centers LGBTQ+-history.
WGN anchorman Sean Lewis was emcee for a short program at the event; speakers included Out of the Office Creator and Founder Andrew Hayes's well as Sandi Robinson, the director of marketing and sales for the Godfrey Hotel.
Baird and Warner representative Kit Welch spoke about her company's long history of support for the LGBTQ+ community. She said, "Baird and Warner has long believed that good will is something we cannot buy in the open market. It has to be earned...and nothing will acquire it quite so rapidly as courtesy, cheerfulness, and respect."
Welch also noted some of her company's milestones, noting that Baird and Warner was the first real estate brokerage in Chicago to participate in the Pride Parade back in the '90s, and that they developed and implemented one of the nation's earliest diversity-marketing strategies in the residential real estate space including a focus on LGBTQ clients and real estate agents.
Out of the Office co-producer Jim Schiefelbein led the crowd in an acknowledgement of the late queer business owner and activist Marge Summit, who passed away on May 17. He noted that, "Back when I was a young thing and had just come out, she was a true inspirationand in the present political climate, we need more like her."
Legacy Project Board Member Ralph Kennedy spoke about the organization's upcoming plans, including a rollout of the Legacy Wall, which is described on the organization's website as a "one of a kind digitally interactive exhibit that features 'mini-biographies' of LGBTQ+ people throughout history from virtually every walk of life who have contributed in over twenty distinct fields."
After a rousing and sustained round of applause, a teary eyed Victor Salvowho is founder of the Legacy Projectclosed the program by thanking everyone and reminding them, "I thank all of you because without you it just would have been an idea."
According to the Legacy Project's website, "The Legacy Project illuminates and affirms the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people to honor their experiences and accomplishments, to collect and preserve their contributions to world history and culture, to educate and inspire the public and young people, and to assure an inclusive and equitable future."