Illinois state Treasurer Michael Frerichs marked LGBT History Month on Oct. 16 with a ceremony in the rotunda of the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago.
In the opening moments of the ceremony, Frerichs remarked on why the ceremony is held each year in what is essentially the midst of the Thompson Center's food court.
"There is a reason we celebrate here," Frerichs said "Welcome to life. There are distractions."
Frerichs also remarked on the recent passing of Chicago Pride Parade organizer Richard Pfeiffer: " We are grateful for the legacy of his work … He will be missed."
In keynote remarks, state Rep. Greg Harris ( D-Chicago ) discussed both the progress that the LGBT community has made in recent years, as well as new challenges that have arisen in the nation's volatile political climate.
"Our history and our rights are very recent things … That's something to celebrate, but that's something we need to protect," Harris said.
He added, however, "All those rights are back on the table, and those rights need to be defended."
A number of awards were presented to community leaders and members for their contributions to the state's LGBT community as well. Among those honored Ryan Bandy, proprietor of the establishments Club Station House and Win, Lose or Draught in Springfield, who was recognized for outstanding service or business; Raymond Crossman, president of Adler University, for outstanding commitment in education; Center on Halsted, for outstanding commitment in community service; which was accepted by CEO Modesto Tico Valle; state Rep. Kelly Cassidy ( D-Chicago ), for outstanding commitment as an elected official; Jackie and Cyndi Richter, the founders of Heels and Hardhats Construction, for outstanding service in workforce and labor; and Olympic athlete Caitlin Cahow, for Outstanding Achievement in Sportsmanship.
Activist Michael Bauer was posthumously awarded the Outstanding Service in Leadership award. It was accepted by his husband, Roger Simon, who said of Bauer, "Awards did not mean much to him. He just wanted to get the work done, for all peopleand for equality."
The ceremony was emceed by WCIU-TV's Jon Hansen, with additional remarks were given by Kim Hunt, of Pride Action Tank. Activist Richard Streetman sang the national anthem, and members of American Veterans for Equal Rights ( AVER ) presented the call to arms.