On May 30, members of Chicago's LGBTQ community kicked off a month of pride and the 50th anniversary of Stonewall at the 18th annual "OUT of the Office" networking party on the rooftop lounge of The I/O Godfrey Hotel.
Launched in 2001, the annual event allows LGBTQ people, allies and family to enjoy professional networking while raising funds to help local nonprofits.
Although the event is geared toward fundraising, the early evening event maintained a casual atmosphere allowing attendees to socialize and meet new people. This year OUT of the Office raised funds to benefit Affinity Chicago, Heartland Health and the LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
Previous beneficiaries include Chicago House, Gay Games Chicago, Legacy Chicago, Transworks, The AIDS Walk and Run and Open Hand Food Pantry.
Commenting on the event's longevity, event creator Andrew Hayes said, "Our first event was held in a restaurant that's no longer around, but you came out, you were proud, and 18 years later we're still in downtown Chicago."
Honorary co-chairs Candace Jordan ( Chicago Tribune ) and Val Warner ( Windy City Live, ABC 7 Chicago ) highlighted the event as well as community leaders and activists. Todd Szwajkowski, Sam Powell of Dream Town Realty and Sandi Robinson of The Godfrey Hotel assisted Hayes in event logistics and planning.
In addition to longtime partner Dream Town Realty, several businesses and organizations sponsored the event, including Cirque Du Soleil VOLTA, Pride Real Estate Chicago and The Professionals Moving Specialists. Media sponsors included media sponsors The Chicago Reader, GoPride.com, PaternoGroup and Windy City Times.