Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13



Elizabeth Kelly: Chairing the mayor's LGBT council
by Micki Leventhal

This article shared 8434 times since Wed Jun 9, 2010
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

In March, Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Elizabeth A. Kelly chairperson of the Advisory Council on LGBT issues to the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations. Kelly, who has been serving on the advisory council since 2006, fills the position that was previously held by Laura Rissover who resigned from the chairpersonship in 2005.

"The main thing I've worked on with the council is the hall of fame committee. As an academic the whole history thing is so appealing to me," said Kelly, who is a professor of women's and gender studies at DePaul University. "For the past several years I've drafted the biographies that are included in the program book and been very involved in some of the fund raisers."

Kelly was also involved in advocacy for the Pride Campus and served as the acting secretary of the council. "I did a lot of note-taking. It was important for my sense of history—you need the records," she said. Kelly spent time in Boston in the late 1970s and 80s. One of her involvements was the Boston area lesbian and gay history project. "It was a very heady time for organizing," she said.

Kelly did her doctoral work in political philosophy at Rutgers and came to Chicago in 1992 to teach at DePaul University. She taught her first LGBT-oriented course in 2002. The topic was LGBT politics, and she invited advisory council director Bill Greaves to speak. "It was only a couple of weeks after the Chicago City Council had adopted the ordinance banning discrimination against transgender people. The advisory council had been very involved in that whole process and the work sounded really interesting to me," she said. Kelly applied for a position on the advisory council almost immediately and was appointed "only 3 ½ years later."

"Until my involvement with the advisory council, my principal organizing in Chicago was here at DePaul. To build a women's and gender studies program at a Catholic university is a very specific form of activism and it really didn't leave me a lot of time." The program, which was founded in 1986 and offered a minor, launched the undergraduate major the year Kelly joined the faculty. A graduate certificate was added in 1994 and a Master of Arts in 2004. Kelly served as director of the program during 1997-2003.

Despite misgivings about teaching at a Catholic university, "I was raised Irish and Catholic and actually lapsed from the church before Vatican II," she said. Kelly discovered that DePaul administrators were serious about diversity hiring and since the early 1990s the number of LGBT faculty has grown to the point where "today I know that I don't know all of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender faculty at DePaul."

Shortly after she joined the faculty, an LGBT cohort began working on the proposal for a program in LGBT studies; Kelly was part of that pioneering group. "What was interesting to me was the lack of opposition," she said. "Part of that was because we had some very highly skilled people involved in the process of preparing the proposal, people who were able to anticipate the problems and pitfalls. We had amazing support from our Dean and President Holtschneider was, and has been, very supportive. The one thing that the president asked of us was that we include education on the Catholic Church's position—that's really not a problem.

"At this point I have to stop and pinch myself because nobody should have this much fun at work," laughed Kelly. "I teach Creating Change: LGBT Politics. I teach a course that is unique in undergraduate education anywhere in the U.S., so far as I've been able to determine, and that's Sexual Justice: Lesbians, Gays, and the Law, which looks at the history of Supreme Court decisions on homosexuality. Kelly also teaches an Introduction to LGBTQ Studies, a sophomore multicultural seminar that includes a unit on contemporary LGBT issues and a course called Queer Pioneers.

But her new favorite class is Lesbian Lives, Politics, and Communities, which she developed based on Alison Bechdel's comic strip, "Dykes to Watch Out For." "I use Bechdel's work from the late 1980s to 2008 as a jumping off point for consideration of a reader that I've put together that begins with the Radical Lesbians' piece that begins 'a lesbian is the rage of all women compressed to the point of explosion' and I show the evolution of specifically lesbian-feminist history, theory and community building and how lesbian communities have changed dramatically over the 20 year period.

"If someone would have told me 20 years ago that I would be a full professor teaching the courses that I teach, developing the courses I develop as a publicly professed lesbian at the nation's largest Catholic University I would have found that completely incomprehensible."

As chair of the mayor's advisory council team, Kelly is set to build visibility and increase advocacy on behalf of the city's LGBT communities. "There are many, many Chicagoans today to whom the advisory council is invisible. We need to make better use than we have been of the amazing diversity and talent of the council members. I want to play to their strengths and do what we can to advocate for better conditions in Chicago and I'd like to facilitate more dialogue among and between Chicago's diverse LGBT communities.

"We have very strong anti-discrimination ordinances but not everyone is aware of them," Kelly said, noting that while good progress has been made with the Chicago Police Department, a lot more work needs to be done. "There are times when the CPD has done a marvelous and admirable job with gay-related crimes. There are other things, like the unsolved murders that are still on the books and treatment of patrons who are leaving bars, where I think we have a lot of room for improvement. Sometimes, when you are dealing with organizations like the police it's simply that the people who are in charge and are most able to make change are isolated from the lower ranks. I don't know if that's the case with Superintendent Weis, but I'm hoping we can sit down and talk about these things.

"Eventually when the time is right, I'd like to see a revival of an LGBT friendly high school. As an educator, the reality of safe schools for all students is essential and we are a long way from having that in CPS.

"People have very high expectations for the council. The key word is advisory. It's our job to advise people in the health department, people in the human relations commission, people in the police department on where our communities are, what our communities need and facilitate discussion.

This article shared 8434 times since Wed Jun 9, 2010
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

After 30 Under 30: MAP Executive Director Naomi Goldberg 2024-03-25
- NOTE: In this series, Windy City Times will profile some of its past 30 Under 30 honorees. Windy City Times started its 30 Under 30 Awards in 2001, presenting them each year through 2019. This year, ...

Gay News

THEATER When growth is paramount: Jim Corti helps fuel Aurora theater expansion 2024-03-01
- Out actor/director/choreographer Jim Corti made his Broadway debut in 1974, in the ensemble of Leonard Bernstein's musical Candide. Director Harold Prince's acclaimed Tony Award-winning revival is often cited as a ...

Gay News

MOVIES Director Daniel Peddle on the sequel to the classic doc 'The Aggressives' 2023-12-05
- In 2005, Daniel Peddle released The Aggressives—a groundbreaking documentary filmed during the late '90s and early '00s in New York City that profiled several masculine-presenting/transmasculine people of color. Fast-forward to ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Black Adam,' Cyndi Lauper, Sondheim, Oscars, OutFest 2023-03-18
- Cultured Magazine recently profiled Quintessa Swindell—who became the first out, non-binary actor to play a lead superhero in the DC universe when they portrayed Cyclone in the 2022 movie Black Adam. Swindell grew up in Virginia ...

Gay News

Show about trans+ women models to debut Aug. 5 on Here TV 2022-07-29
- The Here TV docuseries Road to the Runway—which focuses on trans+ women models—will debut Friday, Aug. 5. The series profiles the 20 hopefuls competing in this year's annual Slay Model search. Cameras follow the women to ...

Gay News

Local writer from Hillman Grad Productions Mentorship Lab to tell stories about immigrant experiences 2022-06-04
- Growing up on the South Side of Chicago without any sort of U.S. citizenship, Ruben Mendive said he started developing his identity as a writer while he was sitting in front of the TV, devouring "every show that came out ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Writer, attorney, activist Takeia R. Johnson 2021-07-25
- The local organization Affinity Community Services announced the recent passing of Takeia R. Johnson. According to Johnson's LinkedIn profile, she was editor-in-chief and lead writer at Inclusion at Work as well as a Ph.D. student focusing ...

Gay News

SAVOR Talking with new Travelle Chef de Cuisine Qi Ai; Profile of Travelle's breakfast 2021-06-09
- Travelle Chef de Cuisine Qi Ai Travelle at the Langham (330 N Wabash Ave.; has undergone a major change during the COVID pandemic: New Chef de Cuisine Qi (pronounced "tee") Ai was promoted from sous ...

Gay News

MOVIES Dutch journalist talks about making 'My Friend, the Mayor' 2021-02-17
- In the Amazon Prime Video documentary My Friend, the Mayor: Small-town Democracy in the Age of Trump, Dutch journalist Max Westerman profiles friend Sean Strub, an openly gay activist, activist, long-term AIDS survivor and POZ magazine ...

Gay News

Booksellers launch "Boxed Out" campaign, a look at consumer choices 2020-10-22
--From a press release - (New York, New York) 20% of independent bookstores across the country are in danger of closing. Today, theAmerican Booksellers Association launched the "Boxed Out" campaign to draw attention to the high stakes indie bookstores face this ...

Gay News

Author/academic John D'Emilio on new book, future endeavors 2020-10-01
- Queer Legacies: Stories from Chicago's LGBTQ Archives is a new book by Gerber/Hart Library and Archives President and University of Illinois at Chicago History and Women's and Gender Studies Professor Emeritus John ...

Gay News

Out Illinois State coach dives into new position 2020-09-16
- Logan Pearsall, an accomplished college diver who has since transitioned into master's level diving, was competing at the 2017 FINA World Masters Championships in Budapest, Hungary. He was doing a challenging inward dive from a one-meter ...

Gay News

Joseph Baar Topinka preserves legacy of mother: Pro-gay Republican Judy 2020-09-02
- Riverside resident Joseph Baar Topinka is still impressed with the resolve and stamina with which his late mother, longtime GOP politician Judy Baar Topinka, was able to "slug it out" in the political arena. "She got ...

Gay News

'Making Sweet Tea': Out NU dean talks about new documentary 2020-08-18
- Performer and Northwestern University Dean E. Patrick Johnson discussed his new film and the importance of reclaiming storytelling agency in a virtual Q&A Lambda Legal hosted Aug. 9. Johnson, dean of Northwestern University's School of Communication, ...

Gay News

Asha Ransby-Sporn talks building on the anti-racism movement's legacy 2020-08-05
- With anti-racism protests happening around the United States, in what some media outlets are saying is the largest movement in this country's history, demands to abolish the police have increasingly been a part of the rallying ...


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.




About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.