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 2019-10-02
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

HRC Chicago to honor Kim Hunt, Dane Hites 2019-10-14 - The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Chicago Gala will take place Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Fairmont Chicago, 200 N. Columbus Dr., ...

Gay News

Public poster series promotes healthy futures for LGBTQ and gender diverse youth 2019-10-11 - San Francisco, CA, October 11, 2019 — High levels of risk for LGBTQ adolescents for suicide, substance abuse, depression and victimization call for ...

Gay News

Boystown's Halloweek of Tricks leads up to Oct. 31 parade, spooky fun 2019-10-09 - Boystown brings you a full, seven-day Halloweek of tricks and treats. Culminating with the legendary Haunted Halsted Halloween Parade on Oct. 31, Northalsted ...

Gay News

Legacy Project's '[un]Gala' Oct. 10 2019-10-08 - "LANDMARK: The Legacy Project [un]Gala" will take place Thursday, Oct. 10, 5:30-8:30 p.m., at the Chez event space, 247 E. Ontario St. Celebrating ...

Gay News

MillerCoors presents checks to various LGBTQ organizations 2019-10-08 - On Sept. 30, MillerCoors presented checks to its LGBTQ nonprofit partners during a closing party at Lake View spot Sidetrack for the company's ...

Gay News

Study says revealing sexual orientation at work improves well-being 2019-10-07 - HOUSTON — ( Oct. 7, 2019 ) — Being open about your sexual orientation in the workplace is beneficial to your overall well-being, ...

Gay News

Thousands attend AIDS Run & Walk 2019-10-07 - For the second consecutive year, "Live True. Be You." was the theme of AIDS Foundation of Chicago's ( AFC ) AIDS Run & ...

Gay News

Lambda Legal names Kevin Jennings CEO 2019-10-07 - Lambda Legal's board of directors announced it has named Kevin Jennings, the founder of Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), as the ...

Gay News

Center on Halsted seeks to replace Walsh Security after community pressure 2019-10-05 - At an Oct. 5 press conference, Lighthouse Foundation ( LF ) Board President Rev. Jamie Frazier and colleagues—who had just left a meeting ...

Gay News

'Activists and Icons' to end Oct. 27 2019-10-05 - "Activists and Icons: The Photographs of Steve Schapiro," an exhibit at Skokie's Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, will close Sunday, Oct. 27. ...


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.