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PASSAGES Activist Marc Loveless passes away at 59 [UPDATED]
by Matt Simonette
2020-03-09

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Activist Marc Loveless has passed away. His death was reported by multiple individuals on social media March 9. Loveless was 59.

Loveless was found unconscious at Steamworks, 3246 N. Halsted St., late in the evening of March 8. According to a report by CWBChicago, Loveless was later pronounced dead at Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital in the early morning of March 9.

The causes of death were given as arteriosclerosis and obesity. Another individual, 55-year-old Donald Fraser, was found to be unresponsive at Steamworks just two days before, on the evening of March 6. Fraser passed away at Illinois Masonic later that night.

Loveless, who was the principal organizer for the Coalition for Justice and Respect, was ubiquitous in causes and events for LGBT-rights, especially as they pertained to LGBT Chicagoans of color. He recently attempted to mount a run for the state House of Representatives, which proved unsuccessful, as did a 2015 bid to win office as Chicago City Clerk. He was active with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and frequently worked with U.S. Rep. Danny Davis.

Activists, politicians and advocacy officials who worked alongside Loveless said that he and his work would be missed.

In a statement to Windy City Times, Davis said, "Marc Loveless represented the best of what citizenship means in a free and democratic society. He has been a true advocate for all people to experience the basic freedoms and opportunities due humankind. Marc was never far from the people, but he was always a leader, looking ahead, organizing for the next battle. Marc's personal life, like his public life was profoundly, selflessly humanistic. He was lovingly co-parenting a delightful four-year-old child he had taken in, who loved him in return with equal passion. Like the hundreds of others who knew and worked with Marc, I will miss him deeply."

AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) CEO and President John Peller said, "Chicago has lost an unstoppable advocate, champion for the voiceless and fierce fighter for justice. Marc was everywhere, seemingly at once. Just last week, Marc was at AFC's annual meeting cheering us on. Marc will long be remembered for his incredible legacy of activism on a host of intersecting LGBTQ and progressive issues."

Activist Ben Montgomery called Loveless "a pioneer. He believed in the health and social welfare of the LGBT-plus community. He championed public policy at the city, county, state and federal levels, tackling issues including HIV/AIDS, housing, LGBT-plus youth, needed funding and decriminalization of HIV.

"Marc was my good friend, and he and I often tackled these issues together. The African-American Response Act was reinstated through Marc's leadership of a group of elected officials and community stakeholders, restoring $3 million to the Act that targets the African-American community. He also championed the Quality of Life legislation in Springfield, along with myself and Michael O'Connor, which resulted in the creation of the "Red Ribbon Cash" lottery ticket that raised over $11 million in HIV/AIDS grants.

Montgomery called Loveless "a true community organizer" and noted that he at various times brought together community members to discuss health issues, violence in the LGBT community and safe sex.

"The African-American LGBT+ community lost a five-star general who led by example," added Montgomery. "[Loveless] will be missed."

Loveless had a controversial and tumultuous legal history, and faced a significant number of allegations within the community within over the years. When asked about those allegations, Michael O'Connor—himself a longtime activist—said, "All leadership is controversial until they die. That's my comment."

O'Connor, like Montgomery, referred to Loveless as a "five-star general in the fight for justice and respect," and praised him especially for being willing to stand up to racism within the LGBT community.

"Like all families, we had fights," O'Connor said. "I'd known Marc since we were much younger. Marc was a co-founder of the Rocks Coordinating Committee. We broke the segregation among white gay men along the lakefront. We were told by the alderman at the time that we were not part of the celebration. He wrote a letter telling the park district that. We formed the committee. I still have the letter with the park district's response.

"Marc fought racism—[especially] blatant racism that took place amongst white gay men, who purported to all Black legislators [whose constituencies were] south of Madison, that, in order for them to not be homophobic, they had to support the LGBT agenda. Our response was: "Not south of Madison without diversity.'

"I went to the Democratic National Convention with Marc, way back when," O'Connor added. "Marc was a brother in the struggle. He knew freedom wasn't free."

Activist Keith Green said in a Facebook post, "While Marc's primary focus was on the lives of LGBTQ people, his ultimate mission was justice and equity for all Black people. Whether you liked what he had to say or not, his voice will undoubtedly be missed."

Green urged the community not to lose sight of the circumstances of Loveless' passing.

"As we grieve his life and legacy as a community, however, we must also grapple with the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death," Green said. "Marc was one of the most sex-positive people I've ever known, so his legacy is in no way diminished by the fact that he was found unresponsive in a bathhouse. But his legacy would be in vain if we didn't demand to know how and why he was the second man found unresponsive in the same bathhouse this past weekend.

"Something is wrong. And, if Marc was alive, he would be all over this. So, in his absence and memory, I can assure you that I will be all over this. And I hope the rest of the community that he advocated so tirelessly for will be too (regardless of how you felt about his politics and/or approach).

"RIP, Marc. You deserve it. But I personally won't rest until there are answers—and justice."

In a March 15 statement toWindy City Times, Solomon Arnold, founding executive director and board president of In Demand Entertainment, said, "Marc Loveless was far from Loveless. His compassion and dedication to creating and affirming equity opportunities and equal rights for us all was untold. Marc was a great mentor of sorts of mine, who paved the way showing me how to get things done in this town without losing sight of my own accountability. In that, Marc saw something in me by which he nominated me to be one of the co-chairs for the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality by which, together, it was wildly successful. Furthermore, when it came to LGBTQ+ rights in general, he was always demanding justice and respect—hence the name of his coalition and foundation he founded and led, by which no one holds a candle to how relentless he was."

Arnold added, "Marc, you are gone from the body, but closer in spirit, and we will always love and miss you and never stop for as you used to always say, 'Doing nothing is not an option.'"

CWBChicago's March 9 report on the Steamworks incidents is at cwbchicago.com/2020/03/investigations-launched-after-2-weekend-deaths-at-boystown-bathhouse.html .

Family and friends raising money for Loveless funeral

Family and friends of activist Marc Loveless are attempting to raise funds for funeral services to mark his passing.

According to Solomon Arnold, founding executive director and board president of In Demand Entertainment, said, "We plan to hold a candle in [Loveless'] honor, mourn his loss, support his family, help continue to plan his services, and forge ahead to address countless injustices our comrade once led [activism against] and, through his legacy, [will continue] to accomplish numerous initiatives. We ask everyone to first and foremost respect his privacy, for those who believe in God or a higher power to send your prayers, for those who can donate to his services to send funds via a GoFundMe link organized by his family."

Arnold added that an announcement regarding logistics of the funeral will be forthcoming, and for more information the public can follow accounts on Facebook: facebook.com/Solomon.Infiniti or facebook.com/ide411; Instagram: www.instagram.com/idemgmt; and Twitter: twitter.com/idemgmt .

The GoFundMe link is at www.gofundme.com/f/the-marc-loveless-burial-fund .


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