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Hall of Fame induction strikes joyous notes
Video by CAN TV below
by Matt Simonette
2017-11-09

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The overall mood of the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame's Nov. 8 ceremony honoring its 2017 inductees was markedly different from the tone at the 2016 ceremony, noted Chicago Commission on Human Relations Commissioner Mona Noriega.

"Last year we were heartbroken, tonight you guys are raucous and yelling," Noriega said.

While the much of the raucousness did likely stem from exuberant friends and families of honorees, many participants were relieved by several progressive political victories that took place across the nation in Nov. 7 elections, providing a much-needed shot of enthusiasm for communities still reeling from events in the wake of Donald Trump's presidency. Last year's LGBT Hall of Fame inductions took place the night after Trump's election.

After a brief performance by the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus on Nov. 8, Friends of the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame Chair Gary Chichester commented on the appropriateness of one of their selections, "Brand New Day," from The Wiz, which he said was "very fitting for tonight's start."

Chichester added, "We have learned to resist. The pendulum has begun to swing back." He further paid tribute to activist and International Mr. Leather co-founder and longtime bar owner Chuck Renslow and former Sidetrack manager Chuck Hyde, who both died in 2017. Chichester said the evening would be dedicated to their memories.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel choked up speaking about the importance of the city offering acceptance, be it for immigrants or LGBT residents, offering that, in the past year, Chicago has demonstrated that there was a place for both tolerance and inclusion. He further reflected on his own family's history, and the one-century anniversary of his grandfather's emigration: "This great city offered my grandfather an opportunity," Emanuel said.

Openly gay broadcasting personality John Hansen emceed the evening. He recalled that at one time the only public LGBT figures he knew of were on TV and named "Will" and "Jack," and added that the ceremony was not just an honor to the inductees, but a reminder that the struggles for equality are often "a long, winding, mostly treacherous road."

Two prior inductees, author and historian St. Sukie de la Croix and Pride Action Tank Executive Director Kim Hunt, presented the awards. Honorees included Actor/activist Keith Butler; police officer Kathern Caldwell; artist Greer Lankton ( 1958-1996 ); Grab publisher Mark Nagle; Walgreens pharmacist and HIV/AIDS advocate Glen Pietrandoni; community advocate Dulce Quintero; author Timothy Stewart-Winter; performer/activist Ketty Teanga ( 1947-2011 ); advocate Alicia Vega; Lavender Woman newspaper from the 1970s; Leather Archives & Museum; People like Us bookstore; Alphawood Foundation; and lawyer, activist and bar owner Ralla Klepak ( friend of the community ).

Ald. Deb Mell, 33rd Ward, read the rules for the nomination process and spoke briefly as well, remarking on the gratitude she felt to be openly lesbian in her city council post.



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