Joe Hollendoner, 22
Joe graduated from UIC in 2003 and works for Howard Brown Health Center and GLSEN Chicago. Joe has devoted nearly eight
years to working with the LGBTQ youth community. He began his work with Aunt Martha's Youth Service Center and currently works
with both GLSEN Chicago as the organization's first paid Program Director and Howard Brown Health Center as Youth Prevention
Program Coordinator. A founding member of CESO and a student at the Jane Addams College of Social Work, Joe recently
organized more than 1,500 students from more than 80 school communities to participate in the Day of Silence and Night of Noise.
This year, Joe was given the Leppen Community Leader Award by About Face Youth Theatre for his activism. Joe plans to pursue his
Master's with a focus on community organizing. His heroes include 'Toni Armstrong, Jr., for her dedication to the queer youth
community; Dan Taussig for his leadership in the fight for effective HIV prevention interventions; and Tony Alvarado-Rivera for
keeping it real and doing it with such style.'
Joe writes: 'I feel that members of the queer youth community are taking on leadership within the movement in ways that they
have never done before. LGBTQA youth are raising our visibility within heteronormative places and are doing so with confidence and
conviction. However, I wish that there was a stronger dialogue occurring between members of the youth community and the adult
community because I feel that each has so much to offer the other.'
Roger Jordan, 29
Roger works in the consulting field as a graphic designer/presentation specialist. 'My activism experience has always been more
behind-the-scenes than in people's faces,' Roger said. 'I've always tried to make a difference by influencing the decision-makers at
the top of the heap than trying to fight from the bottom up. Fundraising, in my opinion, is one of the strongest ways to be an activist
because monies raised can be put to so many good uses to further both gay and non-gay causes. My GLBT heroes come in many
forms: the GLBT teenager who stands up to bullies, the GLBT white-collar and blue-collar workers who, by being themselves, have
the guts to make their workplaces safe and comfortable places to work for GLBT employees, and my dad, who is not gay, but has
always taught me to do my best and be a kind person. One of the good things about the GLBT movement is that there is less of an
automatic negative reaction in society upon learning someone is GLBT. Something bad is that even with new HIV treatments, some
people incorrectly think becoming infected is no big deal.'
Gwen Lis, 30
Gwen Lis, Sissy Butch Brother Extraordinaire, graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1995 and spent the next few years in NYC
where she taught photography for Hetrick Martin High School for gay lesbian and transgendered youth. This work, coupled with
becoming involved in the music video industry, planted the seed that it was possible and powerful to give people new technologies to
tell truths about themselves and their lives. Through film and video, Lis aimed to take up more public space with the sincere issues
that occupy people's lives. She left her commercial editing job in SoHo and came to Chicago with a renewed commitment to
becoming a documentarian. When the lights went out at a Women in the Director's Chair program, Lis bumped into Tara ( Red )
Vaughan Tremmel and a brotherhood was struck. They formed the Sissy Butch Brothers and began work on Gurlesque Burlesque, a
documentary on the art and history of burlesque. Dedicated to making issues of gender, sex, feminism and community hot, they throw
some of the best sold-out fundraisers where performers of all sorts have a place on stage. They are currently working with Early To
Bed on a top-secret 'how to' film and on a documentary about femme sexualities. Check out sissybutchbrothers.com .
Jessica Halem writes: 'Reluctant Sex Symbol Gwen left NYC a few months after Sept. 11 to join her girlfriend in Chicago. A few
months later she was working with Tara as The Sissy Butch Brothers and they have quickly become an important part of the new sex-
positive queer scene in Chicago. Not only does this town need more good looking butchesand Gwen fits that bill but she has
helped to make a space for radical queer burlesque shows in Chicago. Gwen's wit, smarts and heart betters the filmmaking world,
and now Chicago.'
Nicole ( Nikki ) Maaskant, 29
Nikki is the owner of The Patch Bar in Calumet City. 'When I first came out at 19 my mom and I joined P-FLAG to try and help other
families have the positive experience it turned out to be for me,' Nikki said. 'I also try to do or support a lot of charity work through my
bar. That's very important to me. We do fundraisers to help fight breast cancer each year, and every Christmas I try to do something
for those less fortunate than us and get as many of our patrons involved as I can. Last year we collected toys and clothes for families
that couldn't afford them by having a Christmas tree at the bar. Patrons could select an ornament from the tree and buy for the child
listed on the ornament by age, etc. Everyone brought everything to the bar and I delivered them. It was fun.' Who are some of her
GLBT heroes? 'Well, my mother is not gay, but I would have to say that she is one of my GLBT heroes because she is so supportive of
our community. As an example, she cut up her JC Penny credit card and sent it to them with a very thoughtful letter letting them know
that she could no longer use them after they pulled their advertising for Ellen DeGeneres' show on TV. She let them know that the
GLBT 'community' is comprised of friends and family of GLBT's and that those people are affected also.'
Diana Nolen said of Nikki: 'This is Nikki's five-year anniversary as owner of The Patch Bar in Calumet City. At the age of 24, Nikki
was able to obtain a business loan to buy The Patch, which was founded by LBGT Hall of Famer, Elizabeth Tocci, in 1963 and was
there for women before there was any place to go. Due to health, Tocci had to sell, or even possibly close the bar. It could have
ended there, but not only did Nikki buy the bar, she infused new life into it by bringing in entertainment and a younger perspective.
She kept Tocci on as a consultant and continues to provide the community with the traditional events Tocci's customers had enjoyed
over the years. It's been a struggle, yet she is still dedicated to maintaining this South Side alternative to the community.'
ML Mann, 22
ML Mann works for Public Allies, which advances diverse young leaders to strengthen communities, non-profits, and civic
participation. 'Currently, I work at Project Exploration, as the Youth Education Associate,' Mann said. 'Though I am about to graduate
from Public Allies, meaning that this internship will end. Next week, I begin my new job at The Chicago Park District's Great Kids'
Initiative teaching and creating art with young people.
'Most recently I have been acting and organizing with a small group of people for the anti-war movement, creating art for protests
and marches, and organizing direct actions. Also, I have pushed for and created youth-led councils at the youth organizations I work
with, encouraging young to make change. Throughout the last four years, I have been a part of planning and organizing Camp Trans,
which is a direct response to Michigan Womyns' Music Festivals, 'woman born woman only policy,' which excludes trans-women from
being a part of this week-long festival. ... Also, I helped facilitate, organize, and maintain the Chicago Lesbian Avengers, including a
Direct Action workshop and booklet; was part of a group that began the San Diego Lesbian Avenger Chapter; and was co-council of
the GLBT group at Southern Illinois University.'
Mann said her heroes includes Alexandra Billings, actress and playwright, and Leslie Feinberg, author and activist, as well as 'All
of my friends who are out as trans, queer, gender queer and the like because they are bold and brave, just being themselves and not
taking crap from anyone.'
Mann continues: 'With George Bush in the White House and the push to federally acknowledge marriage as only a union
between a man and a woman, it is hard to feel anything but perturbed. However, I feel that now, more than ever, there are individuals
and groups standing up for the rights of themselves and others. Queer folks are seen on the news and in the streets taking action and
making a name for themselves.'
Jane Palmer, 24
Jane is a part-time graduate student at the Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago. She also works with
the Illinois Center for Violence Prevention ( full-time ) ; YWCA RISE Children's Center ( counseling intern ) ; and the Oak Park Area
Lesbian and Gay Association ( part-time ) . 'My activism started in high school when I led a theatre troupe that educated people about
racism, prejudice, homophobia and violence,' she said. 'In college, I coordinated National Young Women's Day of Action, was
Director of the Women's Resource Center, co-president of the feminist club and a children's rights club. I was involved in an activist
group that organized and educated around issues of child sexual abuse and incest. I also have been actively involved in passing
legislation to prevent sexual abuse in summer camps in MA. Currently I lead a queer young women's group in Oak Park called the
She said some of her favorite GLBT famous people are Dorothy Allison, Sor Juana, Frida Kahlo, Janis Joplin, Audre Lorde,
Cherrie Moraga, Pedro Almodovar and David Sedaris.
The GLBT movement 'needs to keep moving and not become stagnant. We also need to move the Pride parade to the Loop.
Instead of a parade, we should all march through the Loop, it would make it more accessible for people all over the city, and mean a
lot more,' she concluded.
Dylan Rice, 27
Dylan is a singer-songwriter-guitarist; to pay the bills he works as a festival planner for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. 'I
have volunteered for various GLBT-oriented organizations such as the ACLU, Howard Brown, and Chicago House,' said Dylan, who
also performed at Scott Free's recent 3rd Queer Is Folk Fest alongside Chuck Panozzo of Styx.
Other performance highlights: Northalsted Market Days, Abbey Pub, Wise Fools Pub, Nevin's Live, and Uncommon Ground. His
music has been featured on WXRT, WGN Radio, WLUW, and Windy City Radio. He was chosen by Chicago Magazine as one of its
'top 20 singles' in the July 2003 issue. He just finished mixing his debut CD Wandering Eyes, which will be released in September.
The CD is being co-produced by Blaise Barton ( Bob Dylan, Liz Phair ) . He will be making his Taste of Chicago debut Sunday, July 6 at
Dylan's GLBT heroes include Chuck Panozzo, bass player for STYX: 'for being in one of the biggest rock 'n' roll bands of all time;
and for his fearlessness in coming out as gay and HIV positive in the 'straight boys club' of rock 'n' roll. k.d. lang: her voice is
crystalline, and her talents transcend her sex. When she sings, she is hot to me! Moreover, she is herselfout and proud. She is proof
that great music, whether it's by a gay or straight person, will be received by the masses as just thatGREAT MUSIC. Shana
Krochmal, Communications Director for Stop AIDS Project in San Francisco. Kevin Jennings, GLSEN. John Logan, playwright ( Never
the Sinner, Hauptmann ) and screenwriter ( Gladiator, The Last Samurai ) .
The good of the GLBT movement: 'legalized domestic partnerships in Vermont; increased visibility of GLBT people as in the
media; every year, kids are coming out at younger and younger ages. The bad: HIV/AIDS complacency; eating disorders, steroid use,
and body image problems in general among gay men; conspicuous consumption of anything with a rainbow on it.'
Virgil L. Roberson, 21
The very tall Virgil, a.k.a. VirJil Dupree, can be seen towering over adults and youth in a wide variety of community groups and at
events. He attends Columbia College and works with the South Side Help Center. His GLBT heroes include Lora Branch of the office
of LGBTQ Health for the Chicago Dept. of Public Health and Robert Ames, executive director of Task Force.
Virgil's activism includes: performer for the Sex Police; peer leader, educator and volunteer with Horizons; youth services provider
for Colors Youth; volunteer, peer educator, prevention specialist and program coordinator for the South Side Help Center; peer
educator and volunteer with the Task Force AIDS Prevention; and youth liaison for the Dept. of Health Youth Initiative Program.
The good things he sees in the GLBT movement: its growth, its desire to be seen and its striving for success. The bad things: 'People
can be so mean to the unfamiliar.'
Hector Salgado, 21Hector Salgado, 21
As an out gay leader, Hector serves as a role model for queer youth in Little Village and the wider Chicagoland area. Hector is
building a world that is more equal and accessible, regardless of sexual orientation, ethnicity, immigration status or education level.
Hector is doing incredible work in Chicago's Little Village community. He was the aldermanic assistant for the 22nd Ward's Ricardo
Munoz for two years, connecting people with city services, dealing with issues related to immigration, domestic violence, health,
education, senior citizens, and gang prevention. He also did direct campaign work. He is a treasurer of Farragut High School's Local
Hector is also involved in citywide initiatives. He is employed as a Public Ally. He is placed at the Greater Chicago Food
Depository's Chicago's Community Kitchens Program, a culinary training program designed to help unemployed and underemployed
adults obtain job skills leading to gainful employment in the foodservice industry. He is a recruitment and retention assistant for the
CCK Program, assisting the students in the program with accessing city and agency services. Since Hector has joined the staff, the
graduation rate for the program has increased 200%. He is an advisor for Sera's youth leadership group which is comprised of 15
students from high schools all over the city. Hector is currently the president of the Student Government Association at Richard J.
Daley College and the vice president of the Student Government Association of the seven city colleges.
His nominator Cat Jefcoat said: 'At 21, Hector is already a leader in Chicago. He has accomplished incredible things. As a
colleague of mine, I have seen Hector tackle tough topics and struggle through difficult conversations on race, ethics, and politics. He
works smarter, discovering and utilizing the resources available to him. And he does this all with a great sense of humor and respect
for those around him.'
Brett Smiley, 24
Brett just completed his MBA in June and he is Director of Finance and Operations for Sarah's Inn, a domestic violence agency in Oak
He lists his activism experience: 'Safe Schools: GLSEN Chicago ( three+ years on the board, two years as co-chair, currently
serving as secretary ) ; Social Justice: Lakeview Action Coalition Hate Crime Task Force Homelessness: Worked for nine months at the
Lakeview Shelter for the Homeless and now serves on the Suburban Cook County Task Force on Homelessness; Politics: Campaign
Manager for Rick Ingram, candidate to become Chicago's first openly gay elected Alderman; Phone bank coordinator for the 2000 No
On 9 Campaign in Oregon ( defeated state-wide ballot measure, the so-called 'No-Promo-Homo Bill' ) ; Participated in Equality Illinois
Lobby Days and Canvasses; HRC voter registration.'
Brett's LGBT heroes: 'I find inspiration from everyday activists who have full-time careers and no secret desire for the spotlight.
They are simply passionate people doing their part to create change. Particularly inspiring are the young activists that have
matriculated through GLSEN. On a daily basis they exhibit huge amounts of courage and are helping stop the cycle of hate and
prejudice in the next generation.'
Brett's opinion on the state of the movement: 'The '90s were a time of great progress. Today there seems to be complacency in
the community. Great work is still being done but we seem to be lacking a rallying cry. It was disappointing that the community did
relatively little to protest Santorum's hateful comments. If the current sodomy case before the Supreme Court doesn't go our way, we
must get organized, show our strength and no longer be taken for granted as reliable Democrats who are easily appeased. The same
is true if SB 101 dies yet again.'
Sven Soderberg, 24
Sven, a writer recently on stage at the Queer Is Folk Fest, said his activism is 'providing written expression of the unannounced,
unintended, and underappreciated voices of the community. I presume to speak for those who have not been workshopped, addled,
or glamorized, and for those who remain unburdened by willingly ascribed stereotypes. I attempt to cultivate the sketch of a universal
existence for that which exists no common definition, and encapsulate the plots for whom plots are discretely self-developed. There is
a presumption in all communities that abstractly stipulates one be of a certain cloth in order to be accepted. Those who remain on the
fringes rest devoid of the embrace, and by default retain an air of longing; these are the voices I acknowledge.'
On the state of the GLBT movement: 'No unkind normative statements can be accurately applied to the endeavors of the
movement in the attempt to gain visibility, challenge the status quo, and to educate. All of it is essential. I believe any 'bad' is due to its
nascence, but through continued experience will gain more tools to equip itself for additional success. My GLBT heroes are those
who are unaware of being so dually designated. These include the Baroness VonBuccilox, Mireille B., Babs Babcock, and the others
whose teardrops have echoed lakes of emptyon their own terms.'
Urzula Urzua, 30
Urzula is a Chicago Public School high school teacher
Urzula came out during her graduate studies at Indiana University and quickly became an activist. She served as president of 'Out,'
the Indiana University GLBT student group, and after graduating and moving to Chicago, became involved with Amigas Latinas,
where she is currently a board member. Urzua, who teaches chemistry and physics at one of Chicago's most disadvantaged public
high schools as well as coaching the girl's soccer team, is famous both for her rapport with students and her zero-tolerance policy for
homophobic jokes and comments in class; offending students are compelled to stand, recite their comment to the class, and explain
why they made the remark. In her personal life, Urzua is active in the Indiana University GLBT Alumni Association and the Gay and
Lesbian Issues committee of the Chicago Teachers Union. Urzua's girlfriend professes amazement at her dedication, tenacity, and
commitment to both her students and the GLBT community. Her GLBT heroes include author Lillian Faderman.
Urzua's take on the GLBT movement: 'Gay men and lesbians still can't seem to get along. I also feel that Bi's and our
Transgendered brothers and sisters are still being marginalized. I don't know what to do about this.'
Adrian Earl Williams, 29
At 29, Adrian was among the youngest of the 58 leathermen competing for the title of International Mr. Leather 2003. He did Chicago
proud, finishing among the 20 finalists. This gave him the opportunity to talk about his 'chosen leather family,' ( including his brothers
in ONYX ) , a topic with which many of the audience members could relate.
He placed 5th of 58 during the interview segment. And his nominator said he fills out a leather CHP uniform VERY well. An
honors graduate of Washington University ( St. Louis ) , Adrian is a quality assurance manager for Hewitt Associates where he serves
as the PRIDE Committee Chair for the company's eight-year old GLBT support group. His volunteer work has included cataloging
'kink' ( at the Leather Archives and Museum ) , helping third-graders to improve their reading skills ( Junior Achievement ) , and working
in soup kitchens ( American Red Cross ) .
Within ONYX, he has been a moving force behind re-structuring the organizational by-laws.
His activism also includes being a donor/member/volunteer for the Human Rights Campaign Fund, and the National Coalition for
Sexual Freedom. His GLBT heroes include James Baldwin, Gertrude Stein, Harvey Fierstein, and Margaret Cho. He believes the
GLBT movement 'is invigorating and strong, but it suffers from internal disarray. We need to define our inclusive, internal agenda and
achieve unified support for it. That way, opponents can stop pointing to fringe groups disavowing the mainstream gay agenda as
examples of why our initiatives shouldn't be supported.
David Thayer is a recent marketing graduate of Northwestern University. He just finished his internship with Windy City Media Group
where he worked extensively on the IGNITE youth section, had a big hand in the Windy City Gay Idol competitions and worked side
by side creatively with the sales department. Though he's a native of Colorado, we hope to see him stay in Chi-town and grace the
GLBT community here with his many talents.
Announced at the 2003 annual GLSEN awards April 22, and in the April 30 Windy City Times: Joel Navarro, Elizabeth Castenada,
Stephanie Gentry-Fernandez, Cathy Gould, Patience Meeks, Catlyn Origitano, Jo Nelson.
Windy City Gay Idol Winner and Finalists
Many of the 16 finalists for our recent Windy City Gay Idol contest were 30 or under, and they displayed a great range of talent for
the audiencesand two ( T.T. and Monica ) performed original works that should be on the radio, with David also saying he is a
songwriter: Luis Vega, 27 ( the winner ) ; Monica DelCastillo, 30; Tim Parricio, 28; Richard Streetman, 26; Jason Hackner, 30; Shaun
Sperling, 24; David Scarpaci, 24; Stephanie Brewer, 30; and TT, 24 ( she is moving to California to pursue her dreams ) .