Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-03-21
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Laird Petersen dead at 53, Chicago memorial planned
News updated Oct. 13, 2010

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Laird Petersen died from a series of infections Oct. 6 in Richmond, Va.; he was 53. The gay communities and citizens of Illinois and Virginia have lost a true life crusader. A Chicago native, Petersen contributed nearly 30 years of service to Chicago's LGBT communities and counts more than $12 million he raised for LGBT community-based organizations.

Petersen was a board member and director of development for Gay Horizons ( now the Center on Halsted ) and helped lead the agency out of a $190,000 deficit into a $1.2 million budget. He was the director of prevention services for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago ( AFC ) , a staff member of the Illinois Federation for Human Rights and a program director for the Chicago Department of Public Health's STD/HIV/AIDS Public Policy and Programs Division.

"Laird was a fierce and fearless advocate, and always quick with a laugh and a smile," said Mark Ishaug, head of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. "He inspired me and countless others, and our work, especially in HIV prevention, has been deeply informed by his insights and experiences. He will be sorely missed."

Petersen also served with the Illinois HIV Prevention Community Planning Group and the Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services, and co-chaired the Chicago Forum on HIV and Aging.

He was chief of staff to Illinois State Rep. Larry McKeon for two years and, most recently, director of social services at Fan Free Clinic in Richmond.

AFC Director of Advocacy Jim Pickett said: "I blame him for getting me into the HIV/AIDS racket. Back when I was the editor of a sassy ( obnoxious ) gay rag called GAB, he convinced me to join HPPG—the HIV Prevention Planning Group. I was walking in Boys Town ( summer 1999 ) … and Laird came by on his bike and asked me if I was interested. I had never heard of it, and I couldn't even remember what each of the letters stood for minutes after hearing them. It sounded boring and maybe not something I wanted to do, but he was insistent, and so, and so … I applied and was accepted into the group. This is a HUGE reason why HIV/AIDS became my passion and my career. I owe so much of it to you Laird. You saw something beyond 'predictably unsavory'. And I say that sincerely, and with deep gratitude."

Former Horizons Executive Director Bruce Koff said, "There are many wonderful but largely unsung heroes in our community. Laird was among them. Through his devotion and tireless work for Horizons in numerous capacities from the early 1980s, he inspired hundreds of volunteers and donors and left a legacy from which future generations will benefit. I will always remember his gentle humor, his calm in the storm of the AIDS crisis, and his unwavering generosity of spirit."

Another former Horizons executive director, Thomas Buchanan, said that "when I first met Laird, and we were figuring out how to come out of a deep hole at Horizons, we had lunch one day on Belmont. We walked past the old Petersen Furniture Co. building on Belmont near Sheffield, long out of business and out of the family. But the bronze letters in the sidewalk said, 'What Petersen Promises, Petersen Delivers!' He was so proud of that quote from his grandfather, and I imagine the sidewalk is still there. I also remember dressing in a room at the Drake for the first Human First we did together, and him showing me his cuff links, inherited from the Hawaiian royal family through his mother's side of the family. He was so proud of his parents and siblings, and gave everything he did his all. … He also had great legs!"

Former Chicagoan Barbara Raab wrote, "I knew Laird from the original Horizon days. I can still hear his hearty, throaty laugh."

Petersen was diagnosed with HIV 27 years ago and has been helping people his whole life. He was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2006. Anyone who knew Petersen well knows he threw one hell of a party.

Petersen is survived by his partner of 16 years, Joe Price; sisters Brooke, Barbara and Amy; and brothers Nick ( Camille ) , Christian, Mark ( Cindy ) and Jim ( Nancy ) .

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation, either food or financial, to Fan Free Clinic, 1010 North Thompson, P.O. Box 6477, Richmond, Va., 23230.

There will be an open house memorial celebrating Petersen's life on Sunday, Oct. 24, 3-6 p.m., at 5000 E. Seminary, Richmond, Va.

Chicago Memorial for Laird Petersen

A Chicago memorial has been set for former Chicago activist Laird Petersen, who died recently. The tribute will be Saturday, Nov. 20, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at the Center on Halsted, Hoover-Leppen Theatre, 3656 N. Halsted, Chicago.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Laird's memory can be made to: The Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60613.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

PASSAGES Varoujan A. Ketenjian 2018-03-14 - Varoujan "Var" Ketenjian, 56, of Barrington, passed away unexpectedly on March 9. He was 56. He was born Oct. 21, 1961 in ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Miriam Hoover, philanthropist, dies 2018-03-09 - After a life well lived for 104 years, Miriam U. Hoover passed away at her home in Palm Springs March 6. ...

Gay News

PASSAGES George Malcolm Mariner dies 2018-02-26 - George Malcolm Mariner, attorney, longtime of Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, passed away gently at home February 25, 2018. Native of Oelwein, Iowa, George ...

Gay News

Anti-gay pastor Billy Graham dead at 99 2018-02-21 - The Rev. Billy Graham—an author, presidential advisor ( who met every president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama ) and famed evangelist who ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Joseph Stack 2018-02-21 - Joseph Thomas ( "Joey" ) Stack, "Joey"—a visual artist and award-winning architect who lived in Chicago's Lake View neighborhood—passed away peacefully on Feb. ...

Gay News

PASSAGES "Joey" Joseph Thomas Stack, artist and architect, dies 2018-02-14 - Joseph Thomas Stack, "Joey", 54, visual artist and award-winning architect, of Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, passed away peacefully Feb. 11, 2018. After attending Catholic ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Community activist Elpidia Valles, mother of Center CEO, remembered 2018-02-13 - Elpidia Casillas Gomez Valles—mother of Center on Halsted CEO Modesto Tico Valle—died peacefully in her sleep on Jan. 16. She was 78. ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Dr. Kathryn Noel Farrow dies 2018-02-09 - Dr. Kathryn Noel Farrow, 46, physician, scientist, wife, mother, and mentor, died peacefully on Feb. 7, 2018, following a three year battle with ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Elizabeth E. Owen 2018-02-07 - Elizabeth E. Owen, passed away peacefully Jan. 27 at home in Chicago. She was 43. She was born June 20, 1974 in McHenry, ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Actor John Mahoney dies at 77 2018-02-05 - Actor John Mahoney—a longtime Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member and someone known to millions for playing the title character's father on the NBC television ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.