Several prominent LGBT activists gathered at Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie on June 10 for a discussion of LGBT rights.
The sessionwhich activist Lora Branch moderatedfeatured Channyn Lynne Parker, manager of youth drop-in at Broadway Youth Center; Matt Nosanchuk, associate director of public engagement during the Obama Administration; and Art Johnston, co-founder of Equality Illinois. Topics included, among other issues, faith communities, assimilation, LGBT youth and marriage equality.
Johnston discussed how Chicago activism emanated from the city's bar life, recalling that, at one time, bartenders were often the best sources of information for members of the LGBT community. "Clubs are all we had," Johnston said " …. The bars were where we started."
Parker spoke of growing up in a supportive and nurturing home, but said that even then she felt like she lacked a cohesive community. She also discussed the rise of "rainbow capitalism"for example, commercialization of pride celebrations or LGBT iconographyand how that often does not recognize transgender individuals.
"I feel like Pride has moved away from its roots, which were nonce a battle cry," Parker said.
Nosanchuk discussed the progression of LGBT rights at the federal level over the course of the last several presidential administrations. He noted that the current presidential administration has worked on rolling back LGBT rights, especially those pertaining to transgender persons, something unprecedented in even Republican administrations.
He added that pushback on LGBT advances now frequently take the form of legal challenges proclaiming that Americans' religious rights are violated by having serving or otherwise engaging with the LGBT community.
"Much of the discussion has been turned on its head," said Nosanchuk. "The story is not over on that issue."