Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-11-25
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Passages: Michael "Makayla" Gwinn, transgender youth
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Makayla/ Michael Gwinn, a young transgender person whose life work was in mentoring fellow LGBTQ youth among other things died Feb. 16. Gwinn was 23.

An active performer, makeup artist and LGBTQ youth advocate, Gwinn loved life and worked to give back to Chicago's LGBT community, said friends. Gwinn, who identified as transgender, used the names Michael, Mikayla and Jaiden as well as both male and female pronouns (a choice that is reflected in this article).

"He loved life," said DaMina Ross, Gwinn's foster parent. "He was multi-talented. He was smart, witty, infectious personality, and he was loyal."

Gwinn was active in a number of LGBT initiatives. She facilitated workshops and discussions at Lawrence Hall Youth Services, where she formerly lived.

Kevin Pleasant, a mentor and friend to Gwinn, said Gwinn was dependable and committed to work with youth.

"He was youth advocating especially for LGBT youth," Pleasant said. "He just wanted equality for LGBT youth. He wanted them to have the same opportunities as non-LGBT youth."

Gwinn was also very involved in National Youth Pride Services (NYPS).

Frank Walker, founder of NYPS, said he was shocked to hear of Gwinn's passing.

According to Ross, Gwinn was found dead outside a residence in Ravenswood on Chicago's North Side, after a possible drug overdose.

Walker and Ross said Gwinn's life had not been easy or simple.

Gwinn was born in Waukegan and later moved to Chicago. At age nine, she entered the foster care system. When Ross met her, Gwinn was living as female in a group home with men. Ross later filed the paperwork to become Gwinn's foster parent.

Despite challenges, Gwinn succeeded both academically and professionally. She graduated from St. Gregory the Great High School and pursued an associate's degree in applied marketing from Harold Washington College. He later earned his certification as a makeup artist after attending London Eyes International Academy of Makeup. He was working as a makeup instructor at the time of his death.

Gwinn also performed at local clubs and was a member of the ball house, House of Evisu.

"I personally like how, even though all these worlds were against her, she made her way to be what she wanted," said Walker.

Ross said Gwinn had a close and supportive chosen family. He is also survived by biological siblings.

Ross remembered Gwinn as funny, charismatic, loyal and courageous.

Gwinn's passing marks the eighth death of an NYPS youth in less than a year, a stunningly high number. The deaths are believed to be unrelated, but the unusually high rate among Black LGBTQ youth in Chicago is sparking fears among advocates and youth alike.

Gwinn was friends with Paige Clay, a transgender woman whose murder last Spring garnered national attention.

Walker said that in its first nine years of operating, NYPS saw just two deaths in the organization. In the last few months alone, he has seen eight. Walker cannot make sense of those losses. NYPS has started keeping track of the number of Black gay youth who die in the U.S. They receive notice of one death a week.

"The majority of them are people we know from Chicago," Walker said. "I think eventually the mainstream media is going to have to start noticing that a lot of Black LGBT youth are dying."

Services for Gwinn are scheduled for Saturday, March 2 at Destiny Worship Center, 5510 W. Chicago Ave. A wake will be held from 12-1 p.m. The funeral will follow at 1 p.m. Donations to cover the cost of services can be made through Brooks Memorial Chapel at 773-699-3323.

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Trans man harassed, mistaken for ISIS member 2015-11-25
Wis. school cancels book after anti-gay group's possible suit 2015-11-25
TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE 2015 Citywide events honor fallen heroes 2015-11-25
TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE 2015 Trans rabbi speaks at observance 2015-11-25
Berwyn school district offering pro-trans policies, outreach 2015-11-25
Trans couple talk romance, work, activism 2015-11-25
Trans poet H. Melt releases new collection 2015-11-25
A'ville shopping; Hilarity Davenport's; Oy to the World; youth talk; Transfluent 2015-11-25
World news: LGBT Ugandans; Ireland and marriage; trans deaths 2015-11-24
TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE 2015 Transgender clergy: 'Everything you are is OK' 2015-11-22
Task Force condemns police's treatment of transgender activist 2015-11-19
Report: Without accurate identity documents, trans people face harassment 2015-11-19
Trans Day of Remembrance events 2015-11-18
SIDEBAR A Trans Lifeline operator's rewards and challenges 2015-11-18
Organization provides lifelines for trans individuals 2015-11-18
Trans supermodel Geena Rocero on 'Beautiful As I Want to Be' 2015-11-18
Entertainment news: Caitlyn Jenner; OUT100; Passion Pit; Ruby Rose 2015-11-17
Nat'l roundup: ACA cases; anti-trans petition; anti-LGBT companies; marriage 2015-11-17
ASK LAMBDA LEGAL Defining 'intersex' 2015-11-17
FBI Hate Crimes Report out before Congressional anti-transgender violence forum 2015-11-17
Congress forms new Transgender Equality Task Force 2015-11-17
Task Force names Trans/Gender Non-Confirming Justice Project Director 2015-11-17
PASSAGES Robert E. Rymer 2015-11-16
Chelsea Manning responds to move to dismiss suit seeking care for gender dysphoria 2015-11-13
Jenner speaks at Chicago House event 2015-11-13
Attorney, trans activist Broadus in Esquire, keynoting Trans Health Symposium 2015-11-12
Lambda Legal to hold events nationwide to mark Transgender Awareness Week 2015-11-12
'Transfluent' exhibit highlights trans artists 2015-11-11
ACLU Sues on behalf of Black transgender woman illegally profiled, jailed 2015-11-10
NUNN ON ONE Linda Gray talks, AIDS activism and playing a trans role 2015-11-10
Producer creates Exposure for Chicago's youth experiencing homelessness 2015-11-08
Union for Reform Judaism passes transgender-affirming resolution 2015-11-06
HRC condemns Carson's attack on trans people 2015-11-05
LGBT Community Fund requests Letters of Inquiry for transformational grants 2015-11-04
PASSAGES Franklyn Roger Margason, 81, dies 2015-11-04
Entertainment news: Sam Smith; Chaz Bono; Jane Lynch; Cyndi Lauper 2015-11-03
Upcoming: Trans Day of Remembrance; Alliance youth summit; Midwest Equality summit 2015-11-03
U.S. Dept. of Ed.: Palatine school district violated Title IX on trans access 2015-11-03
Caitlyn Jenner to headline Chicago House Speaker Series Nov. 12 2015-11-02
PASSAGES Jon Phillips dies 2015-10-29

Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.