This week we launch a multi-week Windy City Times coloring book page featuring past and present icons of LGBTQ history, as drawn by a wide range of artists around Chicago and the world. This week's drawing is by the Comic Nurse ( MK Czerwiec ), and the subject is late Chicago AIDS activist Danny Sotomayor. If you are an artist interested in drawing one of the images, contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Daniel Sotomayor was born in 1958 and grew up in poverty in the Humboldt Park area of Chicago. Initially he wanted to be an actor and studied his craft at Center Theatre. He also graduated with a degree in graphic arts from Columbia College.
Sotomayor's life changed dramatically with his AIDS diagnosis in 1988. In autumn of that year, after experiencing the power of ACT UP/New York at the Food and Drug Administration demonstration in Rockville, Maryland, Sotomayor returned to Chicago transformed. Along with Paul Adams, Lori Cannon and many others, he helped create the Chicago chapter of ACT UP ( the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power ), and Sotomayor soon became a highly visible member of the organization. His colorful HIV-awareness and safe-sex T-shirts, buttons and protest posters helped give the fledgling organization a visual identity and raised needed funds.
Sotomayor also gained notoriety in the activist community for his tireless confrontation of Mayor Richard M. Daley on the issue of AIDS rights and funding. His relentless protests of the mayor's policies included frequent verbal challenges and even the unfurling of a banner at a black-tie gala that read, "Daley, Tell the Truth About AIDS." Daley once said of him, "Why is that man always screaming at me?" Sotomayor's unrelenting tactics are considered a major factor in Daley's significant increase in AIDS funding during the early 1990s.
In the midst of his ongoing struggle with outside forces, Sotomayor's own AIDS battle continued. Through much of 1991 and into 1992 Sotomayor and his partner Scott McPherson ( author of the acclaimed play Marvin's Room ) cared for each other with the help of Cannon and other close friends. Sotomayor eventually succumbed to AIDS at Illinois Masonic Medical Center on Feb. 5, 1992. McPherson died Nov. 7 that same year.
From the book Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community, edited by Tracy Baim ( 2008, Surrey ). More details here: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/AIDS-One-of-a-kind-Danny-Sotomayor-acted-up-and-fought-back-/31467.html .