Lesbians of Note Honored by Chicago G/L Hall of Fame
Fourteen individuals and two organizations are among those to be inducted on November 12 into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, the country’s only government-sponsored hall of fame for the LGBT community. Among the group are several lesbians of note, plus a theater group for women of color.
"We welcome the 2013 inductees’ addition," said Israel Wright, executive director of the Friends of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. "It continues to show how the important contributions from our LGBT communities and from our friends pave the way for the future."
Honorees include Gaylon B. Alcaraz, James L. Alexander, James L. Bennett, Jorge Cestou, Rocco J. Claps, Rudolph Johnson, Jr., Lee An Newell II, Paté, Andrew Patner, Laura Ricketts, Burr Tillstrom and David Zak. The organizations Lambda Legal and POW-WOW will also be honored.
Esteemed female honoree Alcaraz is being honored for her 20 years of work on behalf of women’s reproductive freedom, the interest of African-American lesbian and bisexual women, adolescent health and other social issues. Alcarez, who was honored last year as the recipient of Chicago NOW’s "Women Who Dared" award, was a founder of Affinity Community Services, a South Side social-justice group. She is also the executive director of the Chicago Abortion Fund, working to advocate for low-income women seeking to control their reproductive freedom.
Also to be honored is local bartender Paté, who has worked since 1986 in various venues, raising funds for numerous local organizations while also rescuing and finding homes for lost and neglected pets, both locally and after Hurricane Katrina.
Laura Ricketts, a generous donor who is the first openly LGBT co-owner of the Major League Baseball team the Chicago Cubs, is also being honored for her generous donor support and board service to organizations including Lambda Legal, Housing Opportunities for Women, GayCo Productions, Opportunity Education and Democratic Party entities.
Ricketts recently made headlines when her brother, Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Republican Pete Ricketts, announced that he would not support gay marriage despite having a lesbian sister. The candidate also criticized his sister for the Cubs’ long history of outreach and support to the LGBT community.
Mary F. Morten, a respected Chicago women’s and LGBT activist and former LGBT mayoral liaison under Mayor Richard M. Daley, was recently elected to serve as the new co-chairperson of Friends of Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.
"I’m excited to step into this role as co-chair," said Morten. "And I look forward to supporting an institution that has consistently recognized the best and the brightest from our communities and our allies. This year’s inductees are no exception."
And in addition to Lambda Legal, who works for issues like discrimination, adoption rights and HIV and fertility-treatment insurance coverage, the longtime theater group POW-WOW, once known as Performers or Writers for Women on Women’s Issues, Inc., will be honored. For the past decade, the group has offered an open and affirming space for women, especially women of color, to create and present artistic performances and writing. They also help girls develop artistic careers and provide socially relevant arts-based literacy programs.
In addition, Chicago Filmmakers Executive Director Brenda Webb will be honored as a "Friend of the Community" for her 32 years organizing Reeling, the Chicago LGBT International Film Festival, said to be the world’s second-oldest such festival.
The Hall of Fame has been recognizing LGBT individuals and groups of note since 1991, when Mayor Daley personally participated in the induction. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also dedicates his time to recognize these LGBT Chicagoans of note, and their contributions to the city.
"It is humbling to recognize each inductee’s special efforts to create change in ways that affect us all so greatly," said Wright.
The 2013 Induction Ceremony will be held on Nov. 12 at 5:30 p.m. at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark Street. For information, visit http://www.glhalloffame.org/