Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-08-21
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



EXCLUSIVE: Community activists launch focus on Center on Halsted
by Matt Simonette

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

After several community conversations this summer about allegations of racism from some Boystown business owners and other organizations, a Chicago activist organization is calling for Center on Halsted to drop its security provider, Walsh Security, which has long been associated allegations of racism.

Lighthouse Foundation—a non-sectarian, non-profit social justice organization associated with Lighthouse Church of Chicago—is organizing the initiative through its Coalition of Allies for Racial Equality ( CARE ) arm.

"The folks who came together [in previous community forums] essentially said two things," explained Rev. Jamie Frazier of Lighthouse Church of Chicago, who is the Foundation's board president. "One was that they want to create businesses and not-for-profit centers that center the experiences and needs of Black LGBTQ-plus folks. The second thing was they wanted regular accountability from people who have amassed great resources to serve Black LGBTQ-plus folks. We think that Center on Halsted sits at the very apex of that conversation; they have received so many grant dollars and [so much] financial support in the name of LGBT inclusion. For them to be employing a racist security firm is just unacceptable."

Frazier added that the target of the protest is not the Center itself, but rather CEO Modesto 'Tico' Valle.

"At the end of the day, the buck stops with him," Frazier added. "We believe that rank-and-file folks who work at Center on Halsted are doing a great job serving our community, despite a very high people of color turnover rate [there].

Walsh Security's presence at the Center has long been the focus of community controversy. In 2012, Windy City Times reported that officers at the Center wore hats and sweatshirts that obfuscated the fact that they were not police, for example. Furthermore, various persons of color have alleged they've been made to feel unwelcome in the Center by its security. Walsh Security is headed by CPD Officer Thomas Walsh. In 2017, CWB Chicago noted that Walsh was allegedly involved in a brawl and repeatedly used a racial epitaph at the Lucky Horseshoe Lounge in 2013.

Frazier said that so far he's culled anecdotes and information from about 10-15 persons, including himself, about problems with security at the Center.

"I have spoken to current and former Center on Halsted employees," he added. "I have spoken to African-American LGBTQ-plus folks who have visited or frequented the Center on Halsted. I myself have done programming at Center on Halsted and I've met with staff before. I do have my own personnel experiences with that institution."

Center on Halsted officials, for their part, say that they've tried to engage the activists in conversation to no avail and are committed to racial equity and inclusion ( REI ) initiatives.

In a statement to Windy City Times, Center on Halsted Chief Operating Officer Kim Fountain said, "Center on Halsted is in alignment with Lighthouse Foundation that there is racial equity and inclusion work to be done in 'Boystown and Beyond' to work toward ending racism within the LGBTQ communities of Chicago. This focus is not new to Center on Halsted, though it seems we approach the work differently."

She added, "Racial Equity and Inclusion as a primary focus was put into the [Center's] Strategic Plan. From this, a Director of Racial Equity and Inclusion was hired as well as nationally recognized REI consultant Inca Mohamed. These two individuals helped to form the Equity Leadership Groups for the Board and Staff. In May, Center on Halsted stopped all programing for two days while the staff attended an REI staff development meeting. Inca Mohamed also met 1:1 with most staff and hosted six open meetings to speak with staff in groups about REI at the Center. She will use this information to guide the ELG and Senior Team through the development of work plans addressing REI improvement strategy implementation."

Fountain also said that the Center was "exploring different models for security," adding, "When the Center first recognized the need for security, there were some trials and errors, resulting in today's team which does not wear uniforms, does not carry firearms, and is more of a reflection of the communities served. Several months ago, the Senior Team began to focus on alternative security options like that used at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which trains and employs members of the community. We have also reached out to community partners to ask about their security companies.

"Until a solution is reached, Center on Halsted is also working with Walsh Security to engage an REI training organization that uses a model that we use when we do trainings in organizations where there has been anti-LGBTQ incidents. These are not one-off trainings but rather more longitudinal engagements. Tom Walsh has received a list of recommendations for organizations that do trainings and offer technical assistance, and Center on Halsted will ensure that there is follow through. Thus far, in the several years that Center on Halsted has worked with Tom Walsh Security, all the requests made have been met."

Fountain further acknowledged Walsh's alleged problematic behavior and language, but added that he had made "a commitment to be trained and mentored, to make a public apology, and to continue to meet with the Center to explore more options and his team's relationship with the youth."

Frazier said that before any meetings take place, stakeholders from his coalition will be engaging in extensive research to make sure their demands are clear. He anticipated that after an upcoming Saturday, Aug. 8, community meeting, Lighthouse Foundation would send a letter to Valle requesting a meeting.

"We will lay out our research, ask for his feedback and lay out our demand that Walsh Security be fired," Frazier added.

Lighthouse Foundation's Aug. 8 CARE meeting takes place at 10 a.m. at Lighthouse Church of Chicago, 2335 N. Orchard St. For information, visit .

CWB Chicago's 2017 reporting on the Lucky Horseshoe incident is at .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

OutRight Report: Conversion therapy is global 2019-08-23 - The group OutRight Action International has released a report exposing the global reach of so-called conversion therapy. "Conversion therapy" is the most widely ...

Gay News

African Festival of the Arts (AFA) hosts Annual Gala at Logan Center 2019-08-21 - ( CHICAGO ) — August 19, 2019 — "The Spirit of Africa," the 30th Annual African Festival of the Arts Gala and Art ...

Gay News

LGBTQ journalists to convene in Chicago in 2020 2019-08-21 - NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists announced that its 2020 National Convention will be held in Chicago on Sept. 10-13, 2020. The 2020 ...

Gay News

NEH awards $29M to 215 humanities projects 2019-08-21 - The National Endowment for the Humanities ( NEH ) announced $29 million in awards for 215 humanities projects across the country. Grants were ...

Gay News

Equality Illinois looks ahead with more diverse board 2019-08-21 - LGBT-rights advocacy Equality Illinois recently began its new fiscal year with a board of directors organization officials say better reflects the diversity of ...

Gay News

Michael Bauer reflects on a life of activism 2019-08-21 - Activist Michael Bauer, originally an attorney and executive who has been active in fundraising in local LGBT, Jewish and womens' communities since the ...

Gay News

Paxton Pride organizer didn't give up on hometown 2019-08-21 - When the first hateful comments against Paxton's planned Pride parade appeared on the Ford County Record's Facebook page, organizer Tyger McClure had a ...

Gay News

Goldie Goldbloom on new book, being a queer Chasidic Jew 2019-08-21 - Chicago author and queer Chasidic Jew Goldie Goldbloom's newest book is On Division. It centers on the life of Surie Eckstein in Brooklyn, ...

Gay News

Illinois Gay Rodeo Association presents Rodeo Round Town 2019-08-20 - The Illinois Gay Rodeo Association presents Rodeo Round Town, a three-day series of events throughout Chicago, continuing the tradition of the annual Windy ...

Gay News

Reports: Teen to testify against Aurora church employee 2019-08-20 - A minor alleging that an Aurora area church employee solicited nude photos from them via Snap Chat and text messages will be allowed ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.