The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice will honor the legacy of Vernita Gray at an event in Chicago Friday, May 16 at the Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave. In addition to Gray, Julio Rodriguez and Tracy Baim will also be honored.
Musician Toshi Reagon will perform.
The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and its supporters mourn the loss of Vernita Gray, a longtime LGBTQI activist and supporter of the LGBTQ community. Vernita and her wife, Pat Ewert were the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Illinois following a legal battle to expedite their marriage due to Gray's declining health.
Statement from J. Bob Alotta, executive director of Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice: "It is with profound sadness that we mourn the passing of Vernita Gray. For decades, Vernita has been an inspirational leader for the LGBTQI community in Chicago and beyond. Her path to activism began in her home in the early 1970s when she started Chicago's first gay and lesbian hotline and provided shelter to LGBTQI teens with no place to go. Even while battling cancer, Vernita never wavered in the fight for full equality for all. Thanks to her, countless numbers of lesbian, gay, trans and people of color have been emboldened to live their lives authentically and with profound dignity. She leaves an incredible legacy in the U.S. and around the world that will propel us forward on the path to making her life's work for equality a reality for all."
The event committee includes: Angela Barnes, Jim Bennett, Maia Benson, Amy Bloom, Jennie Brier, Paul Fairchild, Dalila Fridi, Vivian Gonzalez, Kathy Guzman, Jane M Saks and Emma Ruby-Sachs, Alexandra Silets.
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is the only philanthropic organization working exclusively to advance LGBTQI human rights around the globe. We support hundreds of brilliant and brave grantee partners in the U.S. and internationally who challenge oppression and seed social change. We work for racial, economic, social, and gender justice, because we all deserve to live our lives freely, without fear, and with dignity.
Toshi Reagon is a versatile singer, composer, musician, curator and producer with a profound ear for sonic Americana—from folk to funk, from blues to rock. While her career has landed her comfortably in residence at Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House & Madison Square Garden, she can just as easily be found turning out a music festival, intimate venue or local club. Toshi knows the power of song to focus, unite and mobilize people.
See details on the May 16 Chicago benefit here: www.astraeafoundation.org/news/315/60/2014-Fueling-the-Frontlines-Awards/d,home-news .