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Thirty under thirty honored (page 1)

This article shared 15983 times since Wed Jun 22, 2011
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For the twelfth year running, Windy City Times celebrates Pride by bestowing honors upon 30 individuals under the age of 30 who have, in their young lives, already made significant contributions to Chicago's LGBT community and beyond. This year, we actually increased the number of honorees to 33.


James, 27, began his work volunteering as a peer advocate for the Broadway youth center. Soon he was offered a position as a young men's health specialist providing HIV testing and counseling to underserved youth as well as working as the lead facilitator of a program for young Black MSM called Eban. James has also contributed to other projects, including Fab and Condom Sense; in Condom Sense, he teaches local high school students how to protect themselves from HIV and other STDs.

Did you know? One of James favorite TV shows is Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and he loves fries.


Lauren, 26, has been active in politics since she was in high school. Graduating with a B.A. in political science from Michigan's Hope College, Lauren served as the president of the school's unrecognized Gay-Straight Forum. Lauren became more focused on gaining equality by working to train and elect more LGBT candidates to public office at all levels of government through her work at the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, where she served as the political manager. She then decided to focus on the Chicago area where she successfully managed the campaign for newly elected Ald. James Cappleman, the second openly gay alderman in the city. Lauren plans on continuing her work to elect more gay-friendly public officials in Illinois.

Did you know? Almost all of Lauren's family lives in southern Illinois.


Phil, 28, just completed his Master of Library and information Sciences program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He's now just begun his job as the manager of digital initiatives at the oldest LGBT newspaper in the United States, the Washington Blade, leaving behind his beloved adopted home state of Illinois. Phil's been an LGBT activist and media figure for more than a decade, beginning during his undergraduate years in Michigan. He is one of the co-founders of the UP Center of Champaign County, the LGBT community center there, and is a founding board member of the Civil Rights Agenda.

Did you know? Phil has been swimming since infancy ( no joke ) and could spend every day at the beach if he could just find a waterproof laptop.


Matty, 24, is a resilient young transgender woman of color who has survived much discrimination and hardship. Born and raised in Humboldt Park, Matty's service to the LGBTQ community began in the Paseo Boricua, where she did extensive volunteer work and gained a position as a health educator at Vida/SIDA. In 2008 Matty was crowned Queen of the Paseo Boricua Pageant, where she continued to work pro-actively to demand respect for Latina/o trans communities. Matty currently works at the Broadway Youth Center as lead facilitator for both the TWISTA and TYRA programs; serves as a mentor for other LGBTQ youth; designs and implements trans youth programming; and conducts training sessions to increase the cultural competency of trans and gender-related issues among providers.

Did you know? Matty can open beer bottles with her teeth.


Reyna, 19, is a queer Chicago youth organizer, pro-immigrant rights activist and undocumented immigrant. She's a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago majoring in gender and women's studies and an active member of the Immigrant Youth Justice League ( IYJL ) , a Chicago-based grassroots organization led for and by undocumented youth and with support of allies. She has worked on campaigns to stop the deportation of students and organized civil disobedience to pressure Congress to pass the DREAM Act. At the recent Netroots conference in Minneapolis, Reyna was named one of the recipients of the Freedom from Fear Awards, which honors courageous individuals.

Did you know? Reyna was terrified of aliens until she met Doctor Who.


Jane, 26, is the coordinator of support services at the Chicago Women's AIDS Project. Prior to working with women living with HIV, Jane worked with the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago's Sexual Violence Support Services, where she facilitated trainings and supervised volunteers on the Rape Crisis Hotline. Jane volunteers with the Night Ministry's youth outreach team, which serves many LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. She is also part of the Chicago Prison Industrial Complex Teaching Collective. Jane received a M.S.W. from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2009 and a B.A. in sociology from Grinnell College in 2006.

Did you know? A classically trained violinist, Jane recently picked up the mandolin and dreams of playing in a bluegrass band.


Dillin, 17, has been a member of the About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble and the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance for two years. As a member of About Face, he was an understudy in Queertopia, a play that focused on oppression within the LGTBQ community. At the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance—a non-for-profit focused on creating student leaders, educating people on sexual orientation and gender identity issues and advocating policy change to be more inclusive of the LGBTQ community—Dillin has been the fundraising subcommittee chair. He was also chosen to represent the alliance in the 2010 National Gathering of GSA Networks and at the Federal LGBT Youth Summit.

Did you know? Dillin hopes to one day move to Japan, and is hoping to become a veterinarian in the near future.


Teddy, 29, has lived in Chicago for eight years. He is a hairstylist at Salon V, where he works hard to always inspire, create and change. This isn't the only way he achieves a piece of mind. Teddy Greene was diagnosed with HIV three and a half years ago. Since then he has involved himself in the HIV/AIDS community by training, running, biking for Test Positive Aware Network and now working with the Team to End AIDS Endurance Program. His passion to do something with the world of disease is shown through his fundraising efforts and attempts to spread awareness.

Did you know? He still sleeps with his childhood teddy bear—and, no, his name is not Teddy.


Edwin, 28, is the Anti-Violence Project manager at Center on Halsted. Before joining the Center, Edwin coordinated Strength in Unity, a health advocacy coalition led by The Association of Latino Men for Action ( ALMA ) , and worked as a graduate research assistant in medical anthropology at Northwestern. Edwin was a 2005 Fulbright Fellow in Caracas, Venezuela, received his M.A. in performance studies from Northwestern and his B.A. from Emerson College.

Did you know? Edwin is training for his first triathlon and his second marathon to fight AIDS. People can sponsor him at or, better yet, join the team.


KOKUMO, 22, is an intersex/trans woman of color. KOKUMO uses film, theatre, music and poetry as her chosen mediums. She has a production company that amalgamates all of the aformentioned into "black queer artivism." Currently touring her one-transwoman show, The Faggot Who Could Fly, she uses her life of sexual and mental abuse as a catalyst for personal and communal change. The Faggot Who Could Fly is KOKUMO's story of realizing her gender identity in relation to domestic violence and societal oppression. The Faggot Who Could Fly is a memoir and a start from this promising artist.

Did you know? KOKUMO is working on creating a television network for gender-spectrum people of color.


Joey, 27, is a Chicago native and the founder of Mint Male Magazine and . Mint's purpose was to highlight the passionate and professional men in the gay community. After two years Mint is evolving into a multimedia site that will feature queer artists, videos, original web programming and a daily blog for Mint Male fans. Joey has coordinated dozens of events for several charities, such as GetEQUAL, HRC, Howard Brown and Toys for Tots. In addition Joey has worked on events featuring the arts, live theatre and fashion—all while holding down a full-time job as a hairstylist in Lake View at L'etoile Salon.

Did you know? Joey was on the Bozo show and made it to the grand prize game.


Dietzler, 28, is a queer/trans activist and co-founder of Video Action League, which aims to transform, inspire and educate through the use of new media. His organizing began with local punk rock shows and evolved into acts of civil disobedience, flash mobs, rallies and conferences. Dietzler is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago, receiving his B.A. in cultural studies and minor in women and gender studies. Since then, he has worked with Equality Across America, GetEQUAL, Join the Impact Chicago, LGBT Change, The Civil Rights Agenda and The Yes Men in addition to the Video Action League.

Did you know? Dietzler is an avid cyclist and his bicycle is named Harvey Milk.


Sukari, 15, a lifelong Hyde Parker, just completed her freshman year with honors at Whitney M. Young High School. In February 2010 she joined the About Face Youth Theater ( AFYT ) , a fabulous LGBTQA activist theatre group, and discovered her passion for the LGBTQA cause. Shortly after joining About Face, Sukari became a fierce advocate with the Illinois Safe School Alliance, an organization promoting safety and support for LGBTQ youth throughout Illinois. While working with the alliance, she has helped organize and facilitate several youth events, including summits and celebrations. This past year, she was one of the two student representatives on Gov. Pat Quinn's statewide Prevent School Violence Task Force. Sukari plans to continue to advocate for queer rights and equality outside and within the LGBT community.

Did you know? Sukari's favorite foods are grapefruit and potatoes—although not necessarily together.


Nathan, 26, graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2009 and has since been working as an attorney at the Deratany Firm. Nathan has worked on numerous cases of significant importance to the LGBT community, including the case of a New York mother and her gay son, Michael, who received death threats from his classmates. Since starting work at the Deratany Firm, Nathan has represented numerous clients who have been harassed and discriminated against because of their sexuality and HIV status. Nathan is also a member of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago.

Did you know? Nathan enjoys spending time with his cocker spaniel, Stella.


Max, 25, is the director of community outreach for openly gay Ald. Tom Tunney in Lakeview. As a representative for the Boystown neighborhood, he facilitates several events and projects for the Chicago LGBT community, including the annual Pride Parade, Market Days and the upcoming outdoor Halsted walking museum the Legacy Walk. A former press aide and LGBT liaison for the governor's office, Max is also a member of Loyola University Chicago's LGBT Alumni Board and, while at school, helped to establish the annual Hate Crime Awareness Week.

Did you know? Max is involved in local theatre both as a published playwright and as a member of the gay-themed theatre company MidTangent Productions.


Simon, 22, started volunteering at the age of 17 as the benefit coordinator with Western Service Workers Association in California. He eventually came back to his hometown of Chicago, where he began to volunteer with the Center On Halsted. He started to volunteer with criminal court advocacy in Cook County, worked at Children's Memorial Hospital as a patient advocate and became a part of The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention and The Trevor Project, among other organizations. Simon is a crisis counselor on Center on Halsted's Anti-Violence Project Hotline, and leads the volunteer committee to prevent bullying and violence in schools. A pre-med student, Simon hopes to bring his passion for crisis intervention and violence prevention to emergency medicine.

Did you know? Simon rescued a retired racing greyhound named Noodles.


Keith, 29, was born in the suburbs of Dallas. After receiving his bachelors from the University of Missouri's School of Journalism, he landed in Chicago in 2004, becoming an editor at a national legal magazine—but he eventually made the transition into comedy. He studied at the Second City, iO, the Annoyance Theatre and Chicago Dramatist, and has performed stand-up, sketch and improv comedy throughout Chicago. In 2009, he established Essay Fiesta, a monthly charitable reading series that features first-person, non-fiction narratives. The show has raised more than $3,200 for Howard Brown Health Center and 826CHI. He is also a theater critic, a freelance writer and a founding member of the Chicago Story Collective, a theatrical group of essayists.

Did you know? Keith keeps a ventriloquist dummy in his hall closet. It's between a crocodile-shaped humidifier and a tackle box full of paintbrushes.


Aay, 30, has worked to promote independent arts and culture in Chicago since moving to the city in 2003. He has been a curator and organizer for several artists collectives across the city, including Bridgeport's Texas Ballroom, Rogers Park's Mess Hall and No Coast in Pilsen. Most notably, he has been an organizer, DJ and designer for Chances Dances—a queer dance party; safe space for gender expression; and platform for local activism, education and performance—since its founding in 2005. Aay is also an artist in his own right, and has exhibited extensively in Chicago as well as in San Francisco, Minneapolis and New York. A recent graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Illinois, Aay's thesis work involving queer utopias and critical thought earned him the prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in May 2011.

Did you know? Aay will eat almost anything once, makes the meanest key lime pie from scratch and hates amusement-park rides.


Jonathan, 27, acts as a prevention specialist at Test Positive Aware Network, where he conducts HIV testing and counseling. He also facilitates a monthly group of more than 20 African-American MSM ( men who have sex with men ) . Jonathan also sponsors SMART SEX prevention parties as well: He finds willing community members, hosts a BBQ at their residence and then facilitates an "HIV/AIDS 101" course. Jonathan is an aspiring blogger and YouTuber, and is planning on going back to school for photography and art direction in the near future.

Did you know? Jonathan has an obsession with plaid/flannel shirts—he has more than 40 of them.


Sam, 29, is an eastern Iowa native. He went to Coe College and graduated in May 2005 with a B.A. in political science and a minor in theatre. In 2006 he moved to Chicago to work with AmeriCorps. In the first year he worked with City Year Chicago, helping tutor youth and helping run an afterschool program. In Sam's second AmeriCorps year, he worked with the National AIDS Foundation AmeriCorps program and was placed at the Center on Halsted to work in the drop-in space. After AmeriCorps, Sam went to work for Howard Brown Health Center in the outreach department; he now goes to various venues around Chicago and suburban Cook County to offer HIV/STI testing and referrals. He plans to attend graduate school for public health.

Did you know? Sam placed third in a sweet corn-husking competition and vows to return to earn the gift certificate that was so wrongfully taken from him by a Wisconsinite.

Continued at

This article shared 15983 times since Wed Jun 22, 2011
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