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Vernita Gray honored with Damski Award
2010-05-01

This article shared 3052 times since Sat May 1, 2010
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Vernita Gray, a gay-rights activist since the '60s, received the Jon-Henri DamskiAward March 31 at Sidetrack.

Gray's activism stretches back to the 1960s, when, as a press release put it, she "had three strikes against her—she was a woman, she was black and she was lesbian." Her perspective was shaped by influential figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr., who moved into her Lawndale community.

Gray—who works with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office—serves on the Task Force of Aging; the LGBTBT advisory committee to AARP; and the National Gay and Lesbian Senior Task Force.

At the event, Gray spoke about the community having come so far, but having so much more to accomplish. She especially emphasized the need for equality on economic issues such as social security, pensions and other benefits.

The award, known as the "Jon-Henri," is named after Chicago journalist, activist and "queer thinker" Jon-Henri Damski. He wrote for publications such as Gay Chicago Magazine and Gay Life, and eventually ended his career at Windy City Times. Community activist Lori Cannon presented the award. Gray spoke about the community having come so far, but having so much more to accomplish. She especially emphasized the need for equality on economic issues such as social security, pensions and other benefits.


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