The corporate LGBT groups Out@Comcast and Out@NBCUniversal held a discussion Oct. 18 entitled "The LGBTQ Movement: Then and Now" at NBC 5 studios downtown.
The presentation, held in observance of LGBT History Month, was moderated by reporter Chris Hush of NBC 5 and featured Bernadette Smith, CEO of the Equality Institute; attorney Daniel Hernandez; and Chicago Reader Publisher ( and former Windy City Times Publisher ) Tracy Baim.
Hush opened by discussing the implications of being both a working television journalist and someone who is not in the closet: "Coming out as a journalist is difficult when you are a journalist because people think you might be biased."
He also spoke about the relative dearth of resources there are for people who are interested in LGBT history, adding, "There's so much I don't know about the history; there's so much I don't understand."
"We have a really rich gay history, but none of it is taught in schools," Baim said.
The panelists tackled a number of intersecting issues that still vex the community, especially racism, which Baim said persists in being "the ugliest part of our movement."
Hush recalled being surprised when a Black friend refused to go to a certain Boystown bar, since Black and Brown folks were not served or otherwise made to feel uncomfortable there. One audience member, who said she was trans, noted that she felt especially unsafe in Lake View, because of inherent racism and internalized homophobia on display there.
Hernandez noted such racism is especially inherent in dating apps, where gay men's "preferences" betray their biases.
"We have allowed certain things to be said in dating apps," he said. "We have acquiesced to the idea that it's okay to say things that are racist."
Smith admitted that she thought the community had largely disengaged after winning the gay-marriage fight.
"In the Obama administration, we got a little complacent," she said. "I felt like folks mistook marriage equality for full equality."