On Oct. 11, which was National Coming Out Day, Chicago mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot unveiled her LGBTQ policy framework at a roundtable discussion at Center on Halsted ( the Center ).
Lightfoot, who identifies as a lesbian, is the first LGBTQ candidate for mayor of Chicago. Speaking about how she decided to approach her campaign, Lightfoot said one of the discussions she had with her wife, who is white, was if they would involve their daughter in any publicity. They ultimately decided she would indeed be a part of it. Lightfoot explained that it was important for all three of them to be visible in this historic moment, especially to show young LGBTQ people they could live an authentic life themselves. A number of young people and parents have approached Lightfoot on the campaign trail and thanked her for helping them visualize a positive future for themselves or their LGBTQ family members.
"I wanted to send a message that there was a light at the end of what seems like, at times, a very dark [coming out] tunnel," said Lightfoot. "We have made a lot of progress [to protect LGBTQ people's rights] in this city and state, but we cannot forget that there is still a lot of work to be done. [For example], a huge percentage of the homeless youth in our city are LGBTQ."
Lightfoot spoke about a recent visit to a drop-in center, and being struck by the number of Black youth who travel outside their own communities to the North Side so they can feel safe as a member of the LGBTQ community. She explained that it is vital to talk about and address the bigotry that exists in some Chicago communities toward LGBTQ people, so they do not feel like they have to leave those areas to find a sense of belonging. Lightfoot said that no matter if she wins the election or not, she will be working on creating safe spaces for LGBTQ youth across the city.
Lightfoot highlighted the main points of her LGBTQ policy plan, including "guaranteeing visibility and participation in city government by actively recruiting LGBTQ+ staff and appointees, bolstering safety and justice for the trans community, protecting and supporting LGBTQ+ youth, promoting wellness and health, addressing the needs of LGBTQ+ seniors and ensuring LGBTQ+ veterans get a fair deal."
Lightfoot said she will appoint three LGBTQ liaisonsone each from the North, South and West Sidesto be "the eyes and ears for me and our larger team for what is happening on the ground, to make sure we are as responsive as we can be of their needs."
She also spoke about the about the two transgender Chicago women who have been murdered since 2018 began, adding that protecting transgender people from violence is a key priority for her. Regarding health and wellness, Lightfoot said that she wants the city to get to zero new HIV transmissions, and that LGBTQ elders should be able to grow older with dignity wherever they live.
Among the audience members' concerns were barriers coming from the anti-LGBTQ Republican-controlled federal government.
Lightfoot said Chicago has to be a "bulwark against the daily hostility we see coming from Washington, D.C., because we stand for a different set of values."
Other questions centered around making police more responsive to and accountable to the community, why the bars were closed early during Pride but not after sporting events, and how Lightfoot would address sex workers and mental health issues.
See lightfootforchicago.com/ for more information.
See more Windy City Times 2018 candidate interviews and election coverage at www.windycitymediagroup.com/gaynewsarticles.php .