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Legacy Project hosts '[un]Gala'
by Matt Simonette
2019-10-15

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Supporters of Chicago's Legacy Project gathered Oct. 10 to pay tribute to key volunteers who've contributed to its organizational success. The event—" LANDMARK: The Legacy Project [un]Gala"—was held at the Chez event space, 247 E. Ontario St., in Streeterville.

Legacy Project Executive Director Victor Salvo reflected on both the initiative's continued successes as well as the passage of a state law mandating LGBT history in Illinois schools' history curriculums. Salvo proudly noted that it took about six years for a similar law to pass in California, while it only took about 14 months to get through in Illinois.

"When I was a kid, and you all were kids, that was an inconceivable thing," Salvo added, noting that the real hard work—actually developing the curriculum—now begins.

Such inclusion, he said, "doesn't make us perfect, doesn't make us saints, doesn't make us better—but it makes us part of history."

Among honorees were activist Lori Cannon, who was praised in an introduction from state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, who estimated that Cannon had delivered about 18 million meals to community members in need over the years. Cannon received the Legacy Advocate Award, which heretofore will be named in her honor.

"Lori uses her passion and her chutzpah—and she's got a lot of chutzpah," said Feigenholtz.

Historian and Gerber/Hart Library & Archives Board President John D'Emilio also paid tribute to Chicago writer/activist Owen Keehnen, recipient of the Legacy Educator Award, whom D'Emilio called "Mr. Chicago LGBTQ History." Ulta Cosmetics' Paul DeSousa presented the Legacy Philanthropist Award to Paul Highfield for his "genuine enthusiasm and passion for the project."

Salvo presented the Legacy Volunteer Award to Carrie Maxwell—a regular contributor to Windy City Times—whom he said has "shown up for every event" and exemplified "the best possible qualities of our communities."

Comedian Gwen La Roka hosted the event. In a video message played at the gathering, Mayor Lori Lightfoot praised the Legacy Project for helping "lead the charge … in raising awareness of LGBTQ history."


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