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Pictured: Chicago Black Lesbians and Gays was represented by current and past co-chairs and steering committee members.

From left: Laura Rissover of the Mayor's Advisory Council on Gay and Lesbian Issues, Susan Stanley, Dwayne Woods, and Chris Smith of Affinity. Photos by Renee Brown

Photo #2: Past CBLG co-chairs, from left: Michael Harrington, Susan Stanley, Renae Ogletree, Robert Schultz.

Photo #3: Mayor Daley with Chicago Black Lesbians and Gays current and past co-chairs and steering committee members. Photo by Tracy Baim

Stanley Speaks on CBLG Award

Chicago Black Lesbians and Gays was among those inducted into the 2003 Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Famer Oct. 21. We had pics in last month's BLACKlines.

See for a complete list.

Below, former CBLG co-chair Susan stanley speaks about her thoughts on the honor.


When Chicago Black Lesbians and Gays (CBLG) was inducted into the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame on Oct. 21, 2003, I was fortunate to be there to accept the award on behalf of the organization that I so proudly co-chaired for three years. CBLG sponsored a champagne reception at the Task Force headquarters after the ceremony. I was asked to speak at this reception. Well, anyone who knows me knows that extemporaneous speech is not one of my talents.

To be honest, I do know that I missed the opportunity to acknowledge all of the members of CBLG past and present that were in attendance. Please print this letter and what I should have said:

Sherri JACKSON: The corresponding secretary was out recruiting for participation in the Bud Billiken parade on behalf of CBLG when I met her. Sherri is responsible for my introduction to CBLG. When I went to the Rainbow Jam at Paris Nightclub in 1996, it was at the urging of Sherri. Replacing herself, when she reached her term limit as corresponding secretary, Sherri nominated me and I was elected.

Israel WRIGHT: Israel was the treasurer of CBLG when I joined the organization. He subsequently became the co-chair of Unity IV of which I was hired as the Conference Administrator. I worked closely with Israel.. He was very demanding -exacting. That comes from his financial background, I guess. I learned so much about organizing from him, it's no wonder he is so successful now.

Shelton WATSON: I'll start by saying, "I love this man, I love him, I love him, I love him." Shelton stepped in to the co-chair position before he wanted. He had planned a different line of ascension, but when he was called upon, he served. Shelton was there to welcome me with open arms when I became co-chair. Shelton sacrificed more than any one person should have for CBLG. Shelton is my friend, so when he stepped down as co-chair, I had to understand and not take it personally. Shelton was toast (burned out). He stepped away from all community involvement. He is not an activist that can exist on the periphery. Either he's totally involved, or he can't be involved.

Now that I am no longer a licensed driver, everyone is quick to tell me what a bad driver I was and how afraid they were to ride with me. Not Shelton though, if he was scared he never let me know! I miss him dearly.

Janice LAYNE: Jano was always there when I needed her. I'm sure that there were times when she did not want to be bothered, but I just called her anyway. She was a source of calm. After a fiery discussion, Janice would say something that would just bring it all into focus, and put us on the right track. Her historical perspective and grasp of the current condition is invaluable. Jano is someone that never wanted to be at the forefront of the organization, but is a fabulous idea person. The ground-breaking Women's Institute "Let's Talk About Sex" was a Janice Layne brainchild. She remains a fount of CBLG historical information.

Robert SCHULTZ: I have so many memories of Robert. We co-chaired Unity V together and he was in charge of the program book sales, format, and graphics. He is such a perfectionist, that the book was perfect. There were no typos that I can remember. CBLG initiated the People of Color Coalition to take on AIDS Walk for its inequities in its distribution of funds, Robert represented CBLG in the successful effort. When Shelton stepped down as the male co-chair, Robert was the natural choice to step-in, even though his plate was full with his new job at Amnesty International.

Donna Rose WEEMS: A good friend, has had many positive influences over CBLG, but the one that comes to mind, is "The Ask." At every MLK breakfast we ask for donations, because the breakfast is an expensive undertaking. Well, we were trying to decide who should do the "ask." Donna, who happened to be at that particular meeting, volunteered. It was the most succe$$ful ask in CBLG history. To say "Donna has always had a way with words," is an understatement.

Pat MC COMBS: My favorite memories of Pat begin at the Unity III conference Womenís Institute. "Letís Talk About Sex" - She and Denise Miles were the moderators in this groundbreaking discussion about how women have sex with each other. We really bonded during the Unity IV Womenís Institute when I served as the model for a demonstration on massage techniques. :-)

Donna JOHNSON: My memories of Donna Johnson, which I'll share with you, stem from MLK breakfast. Donna donated juices for the breakfasts and afterwards, we made the pilgrimage to Izolas on 79th for lunch. We never ate at the breakfast, there were always so many details to attend.

Sandra NICHOLS: The current Chair of CBLG, is leading a new organization. With the 501c(3) status, CBLG is now incorporated. I remember telling my sister that I was not the person to take CBLG to the next level. With me, if you had something that you wanted to contribute to the community through CBLG, "Come on!" it sounds like a good idea. CBLG will now have more structure. That is due to Sandra.

Kashaun COLLIER: Kashaun was the Volunteer Coordinator for the Unity V conference. It was then that we "got" her. Kashaun has been the Volunteer Coordinator for every event since. She was the Logistics Coordinator for the sixth and seventh MLK breakfast. She is the calming presence in CBLG now. I love Kashaun so much, I think, because she is most like me -easygoing, and willing to accept people for what they bring to the table. She is the natural selection for Membership Chair.

Dwayne WOODS: He is the member of the current Steering Committee that I have known for the shortest length of time. How could you not love this man? I remember the first meeting that Dwayne attended, he made me feel so proud. He was under the impression that CBLG was a much larger organization than it was, because of what we had accomplished. He chose to join us, and he's been gangbusters since. He is a fabulous event planner and fundraiser. CBLG is fortunate that they found each other.

Michael HARRINGTON: Not at the reception, he has two young children at home. I worked with Michael on the "All God's Children" - AIDS and the Black Church event that CBLG sponsored. It was before I was out and proud. Seeing Michael interact with the clergy helped me to be proud.

Renae OGLETREE: Although she was not at the reception, not enough can be said about this phenomenal woman. Renae was the first female co-chair of CBLG. She is the reason I became involved with the organization. Don't have an idea within her earshot if you were not ready to see it to fruition. I remember that I volunteered to be the Volunteer Coordinator at a Unity Conference. Never having attended a Unity Conference, and frankly, never having been a Volunteer Coordinator, I got the volunteers together, but what to do with them? Renae bailed me out and never said a word. That taught me the most valuable organizational lesson that I've learned. "Accept everyone for the energy they bring to the table."

If I have forgotten anyone, owe it to my head, and not my heart.


Susan Stanley

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