Born: Jan. 24, 1982
Profession: Freshman at DePaul University, majoring in Secondary Education with a concentration in English and minor in Spanish; Actor with About Face Youth Theatre.
Alvarado has built a reputation as an outspoken activist for issues related to the GLBT and Latino communities and all of the places they intersect. He courageously brought GLBT issues to the attention of the principal, superintendent and students of his high school, presenting the first day of silence, creating a banner of diversity and launching discussions on safety for gay students. He has planned and co-facilitated two GLSEN summits and was the recent recipient of the Barajas-Reese scholarship for his Latino Gay activism. He is also a member of the upcoming GLSEN Youth Committee.
Born: Feb. 1, 1979
Profession: Student at DePaul University, graduation set for June 2002, will pursue master's in student affairs.
Ayala began his involvement in the GLBT community by helping to found the controversial gay student organization at Whitney Young High School in 1996. The group was the first of its kind at a high school in the U.S., and his work earned him induction into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. He then served as the student board member on the Chicago Public Schools Board of Trustees. With the help of GLSEN's Toni Armstrong, Jr., he launched Pride USA, a national network for Gay Straight Alliances. He spent the summer of 1998 interning for U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez and the last two summers interning for the Hillary Clinton Senate campaign. He serves on the national board as an undergraduate representative for Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity, the largest Latino organization of its kind in the nation.
Born: March 18, 1974
Bell's nominator described him as "an out gay man, a gay activist, and a compelling writer and speaker who has written movingly on living with HIV." Bell has spoken about HIV/AIDS and homophobia across the country, particularly on college campuses. He is on the board of the NAMES Project/Chicago and is a tireless volunteer for the American Civil Liberties Union's Gay and Lesbian/AIDS and Civil Liberties Projects. He recently represented the ACLU at AIDS Lobby Day and headed up the organization's contingent at Equality Illinois' Lobby Day. As a writer, he has contributed essays and articles to the anthology Out and About on Campus and to the second edition of the health department's Faces of AIDS book. His nominator said of him, "I find working with Chris such an inspiration."
Born: Oct. 26, 1975
Profession: Director of the Chicago Department of Public Health's Men of Color HIV/AIDS ( MOCHA ) 2000 project since its inception in October 1999.
According to his nominator, "As a senior health official within the health department, he plays a key role in determining policy and programs that impact the LGBT community. ... Rashad also consistently advocates for increased funds for Chicago from federal and state funders. He also quietly works behind the scenes to support numerous groups and activities." He sits on the advisory board for the African-American HIV University and is a participant in Adodi. He was also a content advisor on the CDPH-produced film Kevin's Room. Burgess has a master's degree from the University of Chicago and was an Andrew Mellon Fellow.
Born: Aug. 24, 1977
Carlos Correa has been involved in HIV/AIDS work since he was 19 years old. He started out as a volunteer at Howard Brown, before becoming assistant to the medical director there. He then moved on to work for two years at Project VIDA. He is currently the Associate Director of Minority Outreach Intervention Project.
Profession: Organizer with Chicago Youth Against AIDS; student at Chicago State University
Davis, a 1999 graduate of South Shore High School, has set herself apart as a standout in a number of contexts, including as a peer educator at Horizons. She recently received the GLSEN Chicago Al Wardell Scholarship. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. and work within the city's GLBT social services community.
Born: April 16, 1972
Puerto Rican drag princess Fausto Fernos has breathed life and fire into Chicago's Radical Faeries. He created the successful Feast of Fools cabaret, encouraging those in our community who are usually voiceless and invisible to go on stage and produce art that challenges, inspires and illuminates the audience.
Born: Dec. 7, 1982
Profession: 2001 graduate, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools; Actor with About Face Youth Theatre.
Since coming out at the age of 14, Garber-Paul hasn't wasted a moment in non-activism. She has participated in GLSEN for the last four years and has co-facilitated the last seven GLSEN gay youth leadership summits. She has performed with About Face for the last three years, and serves on the Theatre's Youth Advisory Council and is an intern. She has worked with the Chicago office of the American Civil Liberties Union, helping to coordinate its youth outreach program under the Gay and Lesbian/AIDS and Civil Liberties Project. She was president of the Queer-Straight Alliance at her high school for the last two years and participated in an AIDS awareness program. Chicago will lose a promising young leader when Garber-Paul leaves this fall to attend Barnard College.
Born: June 8, 1972
"Jessica Halem is no ordinary Jewish lesbian genius from a small town in Ohio," her nominator wrote. For the past five years, Halem has been bringing her unique brand of "on-your-face" comedy to the queer community of Chicago. Always the organizer, Halem brought together The Hysterical Women ( www.hystericalwomen.com ) to provide consciousness-raising entertainment to countless fundraisers, bars, universities, Pride celebrations and women's gatherings all around Chicago and the country. Halem moved to Chicago from New York, where she spent two years with the Women's Environment & Development Organization. Her first days in Chicago were spent knee-deep at the 1996 Democratic National Convention with her boss, mentor and friend, Bella Abzug. She has conducted workshops at the About Face Youth Theatre program and volunteers for the Chicago Foundation for Women as a part of the Lesbian Task Force. She has also made a name for herself as a PR and Marketing wiz for both corporate and non-profit clients.
Born: Jan. 3, 1974
Dawn Hancock is a print designer and self-taught web developer with a passion for typography and color. She started SomeOddPilot, a small design firm, in 1999, and sold her share of the company to go solo as FireBelly Design in February 2001. FireBelly Design works for such clients as: J. Walter Thompson, Seagate Technologies, Exelon Corp. and the Jimi Hendrix Family. She started volunteering in 1999 with the Lesbian Community Cancer Project. She designed and built www.lccp.org with the internet's first animated self-breast exam. In the fall of 2000, she stepped up to be the organization's creative director and she is currently working on the BitchToQuit anti-tobacco campaign. Dawn also played softball at the Gay Games in Amsterdam in 1998. After returning, she joined the board of Team Chicago Athletics. Dawn also created the new Windy City Times brand, including the redesign of the entire paper. She has also worked with Bailiwick Theater's All Girl Revue, Horizons youth program, Ladyfest Midwest, and many local bands.
Born: Aug. 12, 1972
Profession: Environmental engineer
Hemmady is co-founder of Khuli Zaban, an areawide social and support organization for South Asian lesbians. She is a founding Planning Council member of the Color Triangle Coalition, a board member of the Crossroads Fund and a former member of the mayor's Advisory Council for Gay and Lesbian Issues. She was recently honored by the Asian American Institute for her work in Chicago's Asian American community. She is also involved in a planning effort to form a gathering for radical LGBT people of color. Her nominator said she is a "constant advocate for working against homophobia, sexism, racism and classism. A real visionary."
( Eric Hensley )
Born: April 20, 1973
Miss Tiger recently burst onto the Chicago scene, directing and singing in The Happy Hanukkah Show, the first of the now famous Erotic Cabarets at the Bijou Theater. She recently released her first CD Single "I Love Myself," and is currently the subject of a photographic exhibition.
Born: March 11, 1981
Joe is a social work student at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a graduate of Marist High School. He has worked as a health educator at Howard Brown Health Center and as HIV Prevention Program Coordinator at Aunt Martha's Youth Service Center in Chicago Heights. He is also on the Aunt Martha's Board, and is Youth Development and Scholarship Co-Chairperson for the annual GLSEN Chicago awards. He received the John Paul Ohadi Scholarship from PFLAG—Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, a 2000 Scholarship from GLSEN, and the Rainbow Youth Award from Chicago Professional Network Association.
Born: Nov. 30, 1974
Born: Dec. 20, 1975
Profession: Communications assistant at the Chicago Foundation for Women ( CFW )
For the past few years, Julia has taken on the monumental task of organizing the Chicago Dyke March, held each year on the Saturday before the Pride Parade. Many in the community have credited her and her team with expanding and improving the scope of the March, securing city permits and conducting outreach to a variety of women's organizations. In addition, she is a Planning Council member of the Color Triangle Coalition and has worked on the CFW's Lavender Fund. Her nominator spoke of her "warm spirit, great sense of humor and smart political mind."
Born: Dec. 27, 1980
Juliet founded "Room for All," a gay straight alliance at Lane Technical High School, and ran the club until she graduated. Outside of school, she volunteered with GLSEN Chicago, as part of its youth contingent. She participated in the first four Youth Leadership Summits and co-organized Summits III and IV. Juliet has co-organized two GLSEN Youth pride parade contingents and spoke at the GLSEN National Lesbian Health and International Social Workers' Conferences on issues specific to queer youth. As a student at Emory University, she served as treasurer in Emory's pride group and was on the Speaker's Bureau on LGBT issues, speaking to diverse groups on campus on LGBT issues and providing safe space trainings. As a transfer student at Oberlin College, she now serves as Oberlin's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Union's Secretary.
Born: Sept. 3, 1973
Majmudar is a founding member of Khuli Zaban, an areawide social and support organization for South Asian lesbians. She is also a founding member and planning council member of the Color Triangle Coalition and sits on the board of the Metropolitan Chicago Battered Women's Network. Much of her work has focused on the connections between oppression and domestic violence, paying special attention to issues within communities of color. She has conducted workshops on related topics and is co-editing an anthology on domestic violence. She is also on the planning committee of the Color of Violence II: Violence Against Women of Color and is on the national advisory board of a project dealing with violence in the queer Asian/Pacific Islander women's community. She is also a sought-after poet and performer, appearing at MadBar, StarGaze, Mountain Moving Coffeehouse and as part of the performance troupe Cigarettes, Mangoes and My Mama's Hands.
Born: Sept. 24, 1970
Amy Matheny has been a familiar voice as an on-air host at LesBiGay Radio for three years. She is also a company member at the About Face Theater and the creator of the popular Xena Live. Through her work with the Rev. Gregory Dell at the Broadway United Methodist Church, she continues her personal mission to bring the Christian and gay communities in Chicago closer together.
Mattox states: "Although I have AIDS, it is not the sum total of who I am. AIDS is not anything to be proud of or ashamed of. It just is. It's a medical condition. I was an activist long before I knew I had the disease and will continue to be on the scene for many more years." Mattox received
an award from Affinity for her community services for lesbian/bisexual women. She has written for News & Letters, BLACKlines, and The Final Call publications around issues of Mumia Abu-Jamal, feminism, and other assorted activist issues. She was interviewed by the National Organization for Women about her views on Black feminism, and she was an organizer for the National Young Women's Day of Action around the issues of pro-choice abortion. Her poetry has been published in Actos de Inconsciencia. She received a Green Key Award from Roosevelt University for being Vice President of the Black Student Union, a member of Ten Percent—an LGBT organization, copy editor of The Torch student newspaper, and senator of the Student Government Association. She won two student essay competitions and received a B.A. in journalism from Roosevelt University.
Born: Aug. 8, 1982
Mercedes, through her grace and unflagging sense of dignity, has become an inspiration to trans youth. She has guided countless youth through the difficult process of transition, helping them find doctors and a support system. She successfully navigated the Department of Children and Family Services system, finding a home with a gay guardian. She is a member of Horizons Youth Program and an active member of the Church of the Open Door.
Born: Dec. 21, 1972
Profession: Marketing and events director for Diverse Communications and the now-defunct LesBiGay Radio. Or, as one nominator referred to her, Entertainment Organizer Extraordinaire.
Through her job, Julie books the talent for stages at Edgewater days and Northalsted Market Days ( on the Belmont Stage ) . Mosier is also the co-founder of FUEL, a monthly dance party for gay youth, and Chix Mix Productions, the company responsible for the recent lesbian events the Black Bra Party and TANKED! She also manages singer Valerie James and singer/songwriter Sean Wiggins. Entertainer Jessica Halem described Mosier as consistently "kind, upbeat, energetic and supportive. Julie has a terrific ear and sensibility. Thank god she has such a warm spirit ... entertainers can be merciless!"
Born: July 5, 1972
Profession: President, BuzzBoltMedia
Before founding BuzzBoltMedia.com, Neubecker spent his professional life in other Internet endeavors, working with Lycos, Inc., in several capacities, and launching Innovative Consulting, Inc., an information technology consulting company. He is vice president of programming for the Chicago Professional Networking Association and has served as a table caption for Human Rights Campaign events and a committee chair for HRC in his hometown of Detroit. He was an ROTC scholarship candidate and graduated Magna Cum Laude with an MBA from Babson College.
Born: July 20, 1984
Ruth was co-president and member of Whitney Young's Pride Club throughout high school. She was also involved in the About Face Youth Theatre Project's First Breath and Raising Voices productions. She is involved in direct-action organizations including Lesbian Avengers and Trans/Action. She has also been making zines for three years, including writing, art, and activism. At Whitney Young, she was involved in Amnesty International, Young Communist League ( anti-sweatshop organizing ) , and the Animal Rights Club ( vegetarianism advocacy ) . She helped to form the Organized Students of Chicago, a group which fights the misuse and abuse of standardized testing. She has also been a Planned Parenthood clinic escort volunteer, and was awarded a $1000 GLSEN youth activism scholarship. She will attend Beloit College, where she plans to extend her activism, and major in sociology and creative writing.
Born: Dec. 16, 1982
Isaiah worked on a project to help make AIDS awareness more relevant for youth. He has spoken at a variety of schools and churches about LGBT youth issues, and he received an award from the Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association's Prism Youth project last week. He has attended several GLSEN Youth Summits since his sophomore year at Oak Park River Forest High School, from which he just graduated. He received a GLSEN award this year, presented by Affinity. The Oak Park River Forest Gay Straight Alliance was founded by Charna Linsk, with help from other students, including Isaiah. Isaiah has also taught gymnastics at the park district and was in Orchesis—a dance group at school ( he went to state competition with this group ) . He will attend Triton College. Isaiah is also proud that he has convinced friends and family members to speak out against homophobia—his mother teaches at the all-girls Trinity High School, and she makes sure no one uses anti-gay comments.
Born: Feb. 8, 1975
Larry Pinnell has seen the Chicago Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce grow from 300 members to 560 members since he started working there. His expert computer skills and his ability to go into the community and network, have contributed to the rise in membership.
Born: July 17, 1971
Chris "Piss" Powers contributes to the LGBT community in both an artistic and practical way. By day he works at Howard Brown doing outreach, handing out condoms and information, and signing people up for programs. By night he performs with the band Three Dollar Bill. He also wrote the music for the hit show Faggot Bunny Daddy.
Born: March 23, 1973
Kevin Shuck is the general manager of Lakeside Pride Freedom Band. He plays the french horn in the concert and marching bands, and piano in the jazz ensemble. His goal is to have the best lesbian and gay band in the country, and for it to be recognized and respected in the general community.
Born: July 9, 1973
Profession: Youth prevention case manager at Horizons Community Services
According to one nominator, "Bonnie exudes, from the inside out, warmth and appreciation. I know that any young person that comes her way will be met with unconditional understanding and respect. ... The queer community will forever be changed by those that work with our youth today. She is helping people in a way unparalleled in our queer history." Wade's duties include educating youth on STDs, HIV/AIDS, street safety and life skills. She energetically advocates for youth in court, with the Department of Children and Family Services ( DCFS ) and in schools.
Born: Dec. 15, 1975
In the four-and-one-half years since Chrissie Wallace started working at Spin, she has transformed the club into one of the hottest dance spots in the city. As general manager, her major claim to fame is starting the Bar Olympics, which in this, its second year, raised $26,000 for charity.
Born: Oct. 14, 1975
Yarbrough first came to Chicago in 1993 when he began college at the University of Chicago. By the end of his first year he was co-chair of the U. of C. Gay and Lesbian Alliance, organizing the school's largest annual queer awareness week and building coalitions with minority groups and sororities on campus to raise funds for AIDS and breast cancer care and to designate hate-free "safe zones." The U. of C. bestowed the Morton Murphy award for student leadership on Yarbrough for his efforts. He left college after two years to become an inaugural participant in the Human Rights Campaign Youth College, serving on the successful Congressional campaign of Dennis Kucinich from Cleveland. With primary responsibility for lesbian and gay outreach, Yarbrough helped organize appearances in Cleveland by U.S. Reps. Barney Frank ( D-Mass. ) and Nydia Velazquez ( D-NY ) , as well as then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Yarbrough followed Kucinich to D.C., rising to the rank of Deputy Chief of Staff by age 22. Yarbrough returned to the U. of C. in 1999, and just completed his degree in sociology with honors. Last summer he performed research for the Metropolitan Planning Council which contributed to the recent passage by the Illinois House of a major education funding reform bill. He also spent the early part of this year in Cape Town, South Africa, studying queer and AIDS activism, and his resulting bachelor's thesis won the prestigious Ruth Murray prize for outstanding essay in gender studies. His long-term plans include continuing to break down the barrier between academia and activism. At the moment he is developing Quare Productions, an organization whose social events and 'zine aim to expand options beyond Halsted Street for Chicago's queer young adults.