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Marge Summit honored with award named for Jon-Henri Damski
Videos below
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times

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Longtime LGBT activist and lesbian businesswoman Marge Summit received the Jon-Henri Damski award Nov. 4 at The Call, in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood.

LGBT-rights advocate Lori Cannon established the award in 1998 to honor Damski because of his impact on the local LGBT community. Damski's many accomplishments included involvement in the passage of Chicago's human-rights ordinance in 1988 and Chicago's hate-crimes bill in 1990. He was a poet and writer for many publications, including Windy City Times.

Damski was inducted into Chicago's LGBT Hall of Fame in 1991 and received a proclamation from Mayor Richard M. Daley and the City Council in 1997 for his service to the LGBT community.

Summit founded His 'N Hers bar and started the Gay $ Project alongside gay businessman Frank Kellas. The Gay $ Project was an ink stamp LGBT people used to show businesses that the money coming into their stores was from the community. She also appeared in the film Before Stonewall, co-founded PFLAG's Chicago chapter, was a Mattachine Midwest member and was inducted into Chicago's LGBT Hall of Fame in 1993, among many other accomplishments.

Among the speakers were Summit's friends and community activists, including Dean Ogren, Cannon, David Boyer, Owen Keehnen, Tracy Baim, Mike Ferrari aka Ashley Morgan and Gary Chichester, who most recently received the Damski award. Sukie de la Croix, Jamie Krohn and Terry Gaskins delivered video messages.

Ogren said this event was to both celebrate Summit's many achievements and honor Damski's legacy.

Cannon spoke about Damski's life, including his status as the first gay columnist in the Midwest to publish his writings under his real name and photo, and his love of the Chicago Cubs.

"Marge, you know where all the bodies are buried and are not afraid to name names," said Cannon. "We salute you for everything you have done."

Boyer praised Summit for making His 'N Hers a place that is open to everyone in the community regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation and/or gender identity. He explained both of them have a wicked sense of humor and can trade barbs with each other no matter the occasion.

Keehnen read Summit's bio that the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame created and the answer to a question about the Gay $ Project from his recent Windy City Times interview, while de la Croix read from a Gay Chicago article about His 'N Hers.

Baim spoke about how the bars, like the ones Summit owned, were the LGBT community centers from the '50s to the '70s. She also read from Keehnen's Windy City Times interview with Summit about the many fundraisers she did over the years and specifically the Thanksgiving dinners she spearheaded for the LGBT seniors who had no place to go that day because they were shunned by their families.

Krohn and Gaskins told stories about how much Summit means to them while Ferrari, who co-owns The Call with his husband Michael Hogan, spoke about how Summit's bar played a role in his romance with Hogan.

Prior to presenting Summit with her award, Chichester said she is a "tiny woman with the mouth of a truck driver." He also read the plaque inscription.

Accepting her award, Summit spoke about the bond she has with her brother, who accepted her immediately when she came out to him, and how proud she is of her adopted daughter Tanya, who currently lives in Virginia with her children.

A video of past recipients' images was also played, and the festivities capped off with a champagne toast to Summit.

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