The glow of the unrelenting flames radiating from the furnaces used by the West Loop's Ignite Glass Studios to create exquisite art was the perfect backdrop for Howard Brown Health ( HBH ) to celebrate all women at their Garden of Eve event April 29.
The rest of the studio was transformed by the Chicago-based organization Kehoe Designs into the similarly appropriate atmosphere of limitless and pioneering creativity.
Unparalleled strength combined with graceful elegance was demonstrated by aerialist performer Zoe as her mid-air grand waltz with silken blue took the breaths from the attendees who had come in support of the HBH's programs and initiatives which, according to the event's press release, "provide affirming, sliding scale health care to all LGBTQ women and allies including breast/chest cancer screenings, contraceptive management, alternative insemination and transgender healthcare."
"We are here because we believe in the power of women," event co-chair Brooke Ricketts said. "Our services are so vital to our community. We are demonstrating that they matter. If you go to a medical provider who doesn't understand your specific health care needs, you understand how important the services that the Howard Brown provides are."
"We know that women continue to be marginalized even within the LGBT community," HBH Manager of Women's Health Services added before highlighting the organizations free services for sexual and reproductive health and prevention care services such as HIV/STI testing, birth control and counseling.
Broadway Youth Center ( BYC ) Director Latonya Maley underscored the need for a program that has been a lifeline to disenfranchised youth, 34 percent of whom identify as women.
"Every day at our center we see young people who have been kicked out of their homes, who are looking for a safe place to have their sexual health needs met and who have been coming to us for years and have finally found a community to call their own," she said.
That community is growing.
HBH President and CEO David Ernesto Munar announced the opening of the organization's fifth clinic, located at 63rd and Halsted on the city's South Side.
"We could not be more excited," he said. "The mission of the Howard Brown is to make sure that LGBTQ people all over Chicago have access to affordable, high quality healthcare that really treats people with respect, that helps them thrive. We've made progress culturally and socially but, as a group, LGBT people still have health disparities in every category."
For more information about Howard Brown Health, visit HowardBrown.org .