Yvonne Hudson, 80 when she passed away in early February, was a force in two worlds: as a part of the Black women's group Sons of Sappho, one of the only organizations for gay women on the South Side, and as part of her church, Generation Church of Christ, for decades as a treasurer, trustee, and part of the choir.
Hudson and her friend Ernestine Medley founded the Sons of Sappho in 1965 to combat harassment they encountered from being gay in South Side bars and being Black in North side bars. At its peak, the group, later the Sappho Socialites, had three-day-long parties, hosting 300 people in Chicago's hotels.
"When I saw Yvonne, you talk about swag. I mean, she was so, so cool. That was just her demeanor, period," said her longtime friend Takala Welch. Hudson was one of the last surviving members of the Sappho group.
Welch also knew Hudson from church: Welch would kiss Hudson on the jaw whenever they met, a funny thing for the two studs to do. "I I just wanted her to know how much I respected her and how much I loved her," Welch said.
Pastor Kenneth Wiggins of Generation Church had a special relationship with Hudson. They met when he was 16 and she became his godmother in the church they both attended.
"I was a little radical back then and Yvonne kind of took me under her wing," Wiggins said. "I was a youngster and I had some issues going on, and she mentored me. She helped open my mind to what was going on in church."
Wiggins said Hudson was there when he took over the congregation, walking beside him. "She helped get me started," he remembered. "She wanted to help boost me into the ministry."
Welch described Hudson as soft-spoken, genuine and trustworthy. "She loved God with everything in her," Welch said.
Wiggins felt Hudson aided his spiritual development. "She wasn't biased. Yvonne loved people," he said. "I admired the work she was doing in the church and outside of the church. She would bring people together for a good time. I admired the big beautiful affairs she would through back in the day. I've learned to love people, I don't think God is picking and choosing who can come to his kingdom. Talking to Yvonne helped me understand all that. She loved Jesus. She lived a good, long life."
Wake and funeral info: Tuesday, Feb. 14, 6-8 p.m., St. Martin Church of Christ, 5648 S. State.