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  EN LA VIDA

John Pennycuff and Robert Castillo Remember
2003-08-01

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We first met Gerardo in the early '90's at a Queer Nation meeting. Every Monday we gathered at Ann Sather's, this group of folks dedicated to direct action for queer liberation. Back then, there was no indication how important he would become to us.

Gerardo was this proud Mexican originally from Blue Island who wanted to make sure that people of color issues were part of our queer agenda and we were two young guys from Logan Square, one of us also Mexican. Eventually we would become friends and later 'sistahs.' We all shared a common view of how the queer community should operate. Through the years, we would come to find that the 'queer' community wasn't always inclusive whether it was the inclusion of people of color, people with disabilities, women, transgenders, bisexuals and as Gerardo was fond of saying 'those of us with a size 38 waist.' Queer Nation provided us with an outlet to tackle all the isms of the community and it gave us all a taste of queer activism, which all three of us have come to utilize over the years. Through the years, the active membership of QN would dwindle down to just three—Gerardo and us. It was because of this that we nicknamed ourselves 'three nation' and that is how we would consider ourselves even when not working on Queer Nation stuff.

Years later we would find ourselves serving together on the Advisory Council on Gay & Lesbian Issues and continuing the work of 'three nation.' Most recently, the three of us volunteered for the Rey Colón for Alderman campaign in the 35th Ward. While usually not involved in a political candidate's race, Gerardo was committed to seeing the 35th Ward set free from the grips of then Ald. Vilma Colom. He couldn't stand her and was quite happy when she was defeated earlier this year. We all celebrated Rey's victory at the Abbey Pub that night and he carried the special 'rainbow edition' Rey Colón button with him in his truck. Unfortunately, that was the last time that we got to work together as ' nation.'

Throughout the past 11 years we have attended many meetings, actions, protests and parades with Gerardo, have been through many life-changing events with him and considered him family. It's not easy to find the words to convey what he meant to us and what his work and activism meant for the queer community.

He was involved with so many issues over the years and many organizations including Horizons Anti-Violence Project, Rape Victim Advocates, National

Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, The Color Triangle, The Core Center, ¡Ambiente

Pa'Lante!, Crossroads Fund and Coalition Against Bashing (CAB). He was a presenter at the most recent NGLTF Creating Change Conference in Portland and most recently was involved in organizing events for Bears of Color and addressing issues of male sexual assault.

John and I were lucky to have been involved with him on many of those issues and don't know how we will continue without him. He leaves a giant hole to fill and our community may not ever realize how important his work was, but many of us who have had the privilege of knowing and working with Gerardo will make sure that his fire will continue to ignite us. Besides being an activist, Gerardo was and will always be our 'sistah.' Sleep well our prince.


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