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'Garden of Eve' raises funds for LGBTQ women's health
by Melissa Wasserman
2017-05-01

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It was a women's world at Howard Brown Health Center's Garden of Eve: Forward fundraiser event on April 28 at Venue SIX10.

Garden of Eve is an annual fundraiser that has been running with its current name since 2009. The purpose of the event is to bring together Chicago's LGBT women and allies to celebrate queer and lesbian women's sexual and reproductive health, and this year's party welcomed more than 350 guests.

Kristin Keglovitz-Baker, PA-C, AAHIVS—Howard Brown's chief operating officer and certified physician assistant—commented that the event helps the patients who are unable to access affordable health insurance as well as the community whose health insurance may not be covering the services that are needed, such as alternative insemination, hormone replacement or hormone-affirmative care. She said the event also embraces bringing the community together.

"We certainly have a diverse community who support women's and trans health that have come tonight," said Keglovitz-Baker. "I think it's just been a fun event. I think a lot of people have had light heartedness and it's just been a time for celebration with all the exciting things we have to come. Part of our strategic plan for Howard Brown in the coming three years is we're going to be doing a needs assessment for LGBTQ women. We're going to be really looking at the needs of our community and sort of expanding services and I think this event tonight is the start of that reinvigoration around women's healthcare."

In celebrating queer and lesbian women's sexual and reproductive health, the funds raised allow Howard Brown Health to continue providing clinical, behavioral health and community health services, including gynecological care, alternative insemination, breast and cervical cancer screening, HIV and STI testing and prevention and wellness education for the LGBTQ community.

Attendees enjoyed food, cocktails, a raffle and a silent auction. AndyB aka O.Snap!, Darling Shear and Switch the Boi Wonder performed for the crowd and Audio Jack of Slo'Mo Party spun the tunes for all to dance. The party also had an Early to Bed interactive pop-up shop, Kelainephoto's photobooth and Gigi Nails manicures. No Small Productions and Slo'Mo Party's Kristen Kaza was the evening's emcee.

Keglovitz-Baker said it was a priority that the event was women-centered and so women-run businesses were present, which included the DJ, various vendors and catering, as well as women's services supporters of, including lab services and pharmaceutical companies who support Howard Brown with patient education and pharmaceutical support.

"It's always been an event where when it comes to reproductive rights and women's health rights, they've always been important, but I don't think they've ever been more important than this year," said Dr. Nabeela Rasheed, co-chair of Garden of Eve: Forward. "I've been very politically engaged throughout my whole life and right now I think that our rights as women, regardless of whether we are straight, queer or trans, those are the first rights that are going to get given up and that are going to get attacked and unless we come out as a community to uphold them, there's going to be a lot of trouble for the country because where women's rights go, that's where human rights go."

"It's a really beautiful display of the queer women community," said Liz Weck, director of social services at Howard Brown Health. "I mean trans women, I mean cis women, but I mean women. We don't celebrate women's space, we don't make room for women, and in this political climate, women are threatened. Their livelihoods, their bodies are threatened and we need to make a stronger claim about our commitment to addressing those issues."

For more information about Garden of Eve: Forward and Howard Brown Health, visit howardbrown.org/wp/event/goe17/ .


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