Breaking the silence with loud celebration, the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance presented "Night of Noise: Celebrating the Past; Looking Toward the Future" at Uptown Underground on April 29.
"We're excited that this is the second year we've had our Night of Noise extravaganza," said Mary Morten, board chair for the Alliance and president of Morten Group. "It's really a way to come together with lots of different folks who want to support the Alliance and do an incredible variety show."
In its second year, Morten said, almost all of the performers in this year's show returned from last year's show. Performances showed different talents, from tap to spoken word to comedy skits to singing and poetry.
"I think what's most exciting for me, around Night of Noise, is that it really emphasizes the celebratory nature of embracing and celebrating our identities, whereas the Day of Silence is more about focusing voices that either don't feel safe or supported in their respected communities or really lifting up and honoring the voices that have been silenced as a result of discrimination," said Alliance Youth Engagement Manager Nat Duran.
The light-hearted night of entertainment and fundraising brought in about 125 people and was appropriate for all ages. The celebratory variety show consisted of performances from Reggio McLaughlin + the Tap Crew ( and McLaughlin as a solo act ), August, Bea Cordelia, GayCo, Jace Smith, Richard Streetman, the Goodman Youth Poetry Ensemble and members of the Alliance's Youth Committee.
"Really, people across all kinds of identities have come together to support the Alliance," said Morten.
A raffle was also held with a variety of prize packages that contained things such as tickets to theater and ballet performances, gift certificates, dinners, and other prizes from many donors. Providing more information and sharing personal experience, the Alliance's Youth Committee shared a few words, along with a past Alliance Action Camp participant.
"I think it is most exciting for me when I'm attending these fundraising events to know the direct impact of those fundraising efforts," Duran said, adding that applications for Action Camp, a five-day sleepaway camp for LGBTQ youth leaders and allies from across the state held in August, have been coming in. "It takes an incredible amount of work, but it's also a pretty magical experience for both the young folks and the adults who help cultivate that space."
The event's sponsors included Navigant, Grant Ellis Miller, Morten Group, Casey and James Horton, Early to Bed, Jackie and Daniel Frett and Joshua Schwartz.
"We build relationships," said Duran. "Whether it's with performers, whether it's with people attending these events, whether it's with the young folks who go through our programming and then wanting to be engaged with the Allianceto me, that is a testament to that."
For more information on the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, visit ILSafeschools.org .