Chicago House and Social Service Agency held its 32nd annual spring brunch and fashion show on May 6 in the Winter Garden Room atop The Harold Washington Library. The event, which piggybacked off of last year's concept of footsteps, was titled "Revive! Rally on the Runway," and was designed to springboard the start of spring and to revive the spirit while acknowledging the passing of winter.
With a standing-room-only crowd of more than 350 guests, the festivities included a three-course gourmet brunch, specialty cocktails, a one-of-a-kind flower market, a lavish live auction, musical and dance performances, and the titular runway show featuring work from local, national and international designers. The annual brunch/fashion show has served as a fundraiser for Chicago House and has emerged as one of the key social events for the LGBTQ community. This year's event also celebrated the accomplishments of Michael Qunilan and his F*** You Hate Campaign, and featured words from author/activist/publisher and Chicago House Trans Safe coordinator Reyna Ortiz. Channel 5's Chris Hush emceed the event.
In his introduction to Spirit Award winner Michael Quinlan, Chicago House Chief Executive Officer Scott Ammarell said, "Revivewake up and refresh from a long winter. But we also need to revive against the continued onslaught against LGBTQ Rights with the appointment of openly homophobic public officials, the attempted ban of trans individuals in the military, the removal of LGBTQ inclusion from the HUD mission statement, the brazen physical assaults on gay people and the continued violence against trans individuals not to mention the lack of resources for HIV." ( Through special events at his establishment, Links Taproom, badly needed money was raised with Quinlan matching the amount to support Chicago House and The GLBT Community Center of Central Florida. )
After Ortiz spoke about working at Chicago House and reading from her self-published book, T Stands for Truth; In Search of the Queen, the fashion show took place. A wide selection of formal and leisure wear was on display as models walked the runway in clothes designed by Cram, Sylwia, Soundoff, Anna Loosli, Ricorso, Rakan, Radoggio and Black Tie Formalwear. The festivities came to a finish with juggler Cyril Rabbath seemingly appearing from thin air while actress/vocalist Molly Callinan closing out the show with her rendition of "I Came for Love."
Sponsors of the event included BMO Harris Bank, Gilead, MB Financial Bank, Care Roofing, Replay Beer and Bourban, Orbitz, Cram, and Saville Flowers among others.
Founded in 1985, Chicago House has served individuals and families impacted by HIV/AIDS, LBGTQ and gender non-conformity marginalization, poverty and homelessness. The organization has provided housing, employment services, medical linkage and retention services, HIV prevention and education, and legal services.