City officials have announced that the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame (GLHF) will no longer benefit from city support due to financial constraints.
GLHF has historically been funded by community fundraising efforts, not the city. However, in past years, the city donated postage, copying, staff support and underwriting to hold the reception at the Chicago Cultural Center. (The event is scheduled for Nov. 8.)
"Prior to the election [of Mayor Emanuel], we knew there were going to be some changes," said Gary Chichester, a GLHF committee member. However, he said the committee had been told to proceed as usual. Chichester said the news left the committee feeling "blindsided."
Chichester estimates the sticker price of aid from the city between $7,000-$10,000, which includes the $3,300 bill to hold the event at the Chicago Cultural Center. That is money the committee will have to raise on its own now.
GLHF, which annually inducts Chicago champions of LGBT causes, is typically funded by donations and two fundraisers, both of which were planned for this year. GLHF celebrated its "Pride and Joy" fundraiser in June and will hold its celebrity-auction fundraiser Sept. 20 at Sidetrack.
GLHF also set up a 501(c)(3), Friends of the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, earlier this year in anticipation of possible cuts.
Bill Greavesdirector of Chicago's LGBT Advisory Council, which has provided support in past years to GLHFdeclined to comment on the news and said that his office would be issuing a statement shortly.
Chichester said the news could mean that the induction ceremony doesn't happen. However, the Chicago History Museum has offered its auditorium for the ceremony, meant to coincide with its LGBT exhibit, "Out in Chicago." Chichester said that the committee is in negotiation with the museum currently and that if the two parties reach an agreement, the induction ceremony should continue as planned.
Rick Garcia, a longtime LGBT activist and former GLHF inductee, said the announcement is of little significance.
"The city has never paid anything for the Hall of Fame," he said. "I don't even know why this is an issue. ... This could create controversy where no controversy exists."
The outstanding question however, will be if the Hall of Fame is still even a city project. Without support, questions about if GLHF should keep its relationship with the city are growing. Those questions are not off the table, said Chichester.