Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Chicago's event "Social!" celebrated 50 years of LGBTQ history at the Edelman offices in the Aon Center on June 13.
"Social!" is a monthly event of socializing and networking, held in different Chicago neighborhoods. This month, Edelman's employee resource group Edelman Equal hosted the Pride edition of HRC "Social!"
"We really love having people just coming in a safe space and being able to be their true, genuine self," said HRC Community Engagement Co-Chair Pablo Villarreal of "Social!"
The evening was a celebration of LGBT rights and the "Movers and Shakers" in the fight for equality through the years.
The Legacy Project kicked things off by talking about the organization's current projects and efforts.
"With the two big news worthy issues coming up this month, the historic landmark status and the Illinois Inclusive Curriculum bill, we realize this is a moment when we really need to take hold of our story and be able to share that more broadly than we ever have before," said Scott Lundius, a board member and director of strategic development of The Legacy Project. "So we're adding to the wonderful work that our founder Victor Salvo has already been doing for the last 30 years…"
Events like this, Lundius added, are a good opportunity to spread the message of the walk and bring it recognition for people who may not realize the rainbow pilons display stories of people from history.
"[We are] trying to make as much of an impact as we can of this message of lost stories and reclaiming their lives and captivations of LGBT people to world history," Lundius said of The Legacy Project and its Legacy Walk.
Villarreal then moderated a panel discussion focused on activism. The panel included Channyn Lynne Parker, manager of external relations for Howard Brown Health; Kina Collins, national organizer for Physicians for National Health Program, community activist, author of the Illinois Council on Women and Girls Actand congressional candidate for IL-07; and Vanessa Sheridan, director of gender equity and inclusion at Center on Halsted and published author.
"I was really happy with our panelists here, to have Kina, Channyn, Vanessa," said Villarreal."Three individuals that are very strong in their own way and doing great things for the community and LGBT+ community, in general."
"I think being a transwoman of color, to have this conversation, particularly with HRC, I think is really important," said Parker. "I think that we know that trans people cannot wait, that our needs can't wait, that everyday we're being killed, our lives are at risk and it's time for trans people to be in the forefront of these conversations and encourage folks to invest real change and have real investment in our community."
Collins emphasized it is important that people show up as allies. She added she wants to continue her work in the LGBTQ community and continuing learning.
"That means we get out the way, we pass the microphone, but most importantly we learn from communities that we're not a part of, so that as a whole and as a collective, we're stronger, we're better, we're more efficient and we're not leaving anybody behind and so I was honored to be on the panel," said Collins.
Following the panel, attendees socialized with food, drinks and a musical performance by local artist Co-Stanza.
"It's so important that we encourage folks to have open dialogue, that we encourage differences of opinion and that we begin to call up opposed to calling people out," said Parker. "I think it's also important for me to remind folks that pride really was created based off of a battle cry. It was a rally cry. It was something that was created by trans women who said 'Enough is enough'more specifically, trans women of color…"
"I would hope that people were a little more educated, I hope they were woke," said Villarreal about what he hopes attendees took away from the event. "I think Kina and Channyn made some really great points. They're very passionate about what they do in their life and I hope that it kind of challenged individuals to speak up, make some stride within the community and if change needs to be done, it starts with you. So, I hope they get involved somewhere that they're passionate about and I hope today we kind of inspired them to do so."
For more information, visit HRCChicago.org .