ChicagoPride.com Blogs
Wednesday 22 Jun 2011

My Pride: Vernita Gray

Celebrating the true meaning of Pride, I want to publicly thank someone in the LGBT community who has lived and fought for my rights and for many of those who read this. I’m talking about Vernita Gray.

Every time I’ve met Vernita, she’s greeted me as if I were her best friend. We’ve never spoken about LGBT rights or her work for equality. In fact, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t know who I was in a crowded room. I know her though, and I hope you will take a moment to know her as well!

The year I was born, she organized a gay and lesbian hotline using her on own phone number at the time. She hosted support groups in her home; published comprehensively in magazines. She took charge in leading the Chicago gay liberation movement; serving lesbians and gay men in Chicago's African American community. All this, before a gay kid from Seattle; who would someday move to Chicago, would benefit from her work.

I am grateful!

Vernita was active in forming the first Lesbian Caucus of the nascent Gay Liberation organization and the first Chicago lesbian newspaper Lavendar Woman. She pioneered the outreach to the Lesbian community becoming iconic as a role model to groups like The L Stop, a new website for Chicago's lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer women.

Our community is grateful!

Wonderfully, Vernita and her life partner, Pat Ewert married this month in Millennium Park. She and Pat deserve the very best in happiness for all their efforts on our behalf.

This Pride, as we enjoy the festivity, I hope you will recall Vernita & Pat and the countless others who’ve given of themselves. Not to be call hero but to change their world for equality.

The true meaning of Pride!

Grateful!
Bill Pritchard

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ChicagoPride.com Pride Guide
 
photo
Tuesday 14 Jun 2011

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Last week, newly elected Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations' Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues hosted the annual Pride Month Reception in Sidney R. Yates Gallery at the Chicago Cultural Center.

I’ve not seen a better attended pride reception ever. Sponsored by Equality Illinois and State Farm Insurance, the event was boasted a thousand RSVP responses; according to the city of Chicago’s Bill Greaves.

The Mayor gave a great speech; promising that he would march in this years Pride Parade. Many were disappointed that he didn’t stick around to snap photos with people; as had been done in the past. I guess with that many people in attendance, it would have been a nightmare of a line anyway.

As always, it was great to run into many community cronies, including: Art Johnston & Jose Pena, Rick Garcia, Chicago Lost and Found’s Mitch Pennell, GoPride.com President R. Matthew Inawat and the Feast of Fun’s Fausto Fernós & Marc Felion.

Be sure to check out all the photos of the evening! A special thanks goes to Spike King, who snapped the photo of the Mayor and me.

Cheers!
Bill Pritchard

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Interfaith Gala :: June 15, 2011
Thursday 26 May 2011

Lust and Libations

This Saturday is the 20th Annual Grabby Awards at the Park West Theater. The Grabby’s celebrate the adult industry’s contribution to the community. And contribute they have; partnering with the Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN) to raise money for HIV testing and education. In fact many of the Grabby Weekend events have had raffles that benefit TPAN.

As my friend Steve could tell you, the Grabby’s are always a silly time for me. Let’s face it, not all of us are into the whole adult film thing. What I can say I really enjoy is the dedication by Grabby producers Stacy Bridges and Mark Nagel of Grab Magazine to the Chicago LGBT community. Those boys have raised tons of dough and awareness for the things that matter. Of that we can all be proud of!

Hosted by the hilarious Chi Chi LaRue and Chicago’s own Honey West; the event is always full of innuendo and indecent exposure.

I always enjoy running into a number of pals in the industry; including former Illinoisan Jayden Grey and my hometown pal, Brent Corrigan. Be on the lookout next for an interview that he and I just did. That boy is uber-busy these days with a lot of mainstream work. I’m so proud of him and all his success!

Make all of your Memorial Day weekend plans by checking out CalendarQ from ChicagoPride.com, Windy City Times and Nightspots.

Grab This!
Bill Pritchard

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The importance of Memorial Day
Wednesday 25 May 2011

Trash to Treasure

Last night I attended Chicago Lost and Found’s cocktail reception at Life Book (1200 W. Lake St)

Hosted by my pal and Founder, Mitch Pennell, the room was filled with many the Chicago notable; like cabaret Diva, Amy Armstrong, (AmyFreddy.com) Chicago’s Commission on Human Relations’ Advisory Council’s Bill Greaves, everyone’s favorite DJ/Host/Producer, Matthew Harvat, and NBC Chicago’s Wayne Johnson

Chicago Lost and Found’s is a not-for-profit organization committed to art education and inspiring creativity throughout the city. The organization re-purposes materials with no value or which would otherwise become landfill and transforms it into unusual art and functional furnishings. Sales from the creations assist in generating funds to provide hands-on art education anywhere there is a need in Chicago.

Something must be said about the space at Life Book ! Talk about a Shangri-La! It was the perfect setting for such an event. I met their Managing Director, Karla Ortiz who taught me all about the mission of Life Book; to maximize human potential and accelerate human achievement.

While funding for the arts and education is on a constant decline, it is paramount community organizations like Chicago Lost and Found step in to fill the void. Chicago Lost and Found offers a unique way to help while providing additional benefits for the city and environment. Be sure to check them out at chicagolostandfound.com

Happy HUMP Day!
Bill Pritchard

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Saturday May 28 :: The Grabby’s
Thursday 12 May 2011

So Long Mr. Mayor!

I remember the first time I ever saw him. I was having dinner with my Brother David at Chicago’s famed RL and looked across the room. It was 2001 and I was brand new to Chicago. I started to get up and my brother asked, “What are you doing?!” I explained to him that I thought I should introduce myself to him; being that I was so new to the city. With a firm shake of the cheeks, as if to evoke my Sainted Father’s presence, he let me know that would not be acceptable. My brother is not a walking mouth like me, so I understood.

The first time I spoke with Mayor Daley was the second time I saw him; a few months later and still again at RL. This time it was a very snowy Saturday and I stepped in to quench my homesick blues with a tasty bowl of soup (They have some of THE best in town!) and a well-made libation. I chose to dine in front of the fireplace; making the experience more cozy. Finished with my soup, I sat back and enjoyed my first winter and strong drink, when out of nowhere the Mayor came out of the dining room.

An aid fetched his hat and coat while the Mayor looked out the window on to Chicago Street. A passerby nearly bit it on the snowy pavement as she recognized the Mayor through the window. Waving, she went on her way. Mayor Daley turned right around and said to me, “She must know you!” We both had a good laugh and I was able to finally meet my Mayor.

As the years progressed and I found myself involved in the community, my experiences with the Mayor grew more often. I’ll never forget the first time he greeted me as the Mayor of Boystown. Yes, it’s a nickname that has blessed and cursed my life, but coming from him was something special.

We were at the Mayor’s yearly Pride Reception. As the presentation of remarks ended, folks were invited to come up, greet the Mayor, and get their photo taken. Clearly some staffer briefed him, as I was the first to come up. “Mister Mayor! How is Boystown today?!”, he said to me. I wanted to die! The first thing to come out of my mouth was “Alive and well because of you Mister Mayor!”. With that we exchanged a brief conversation and snapped a photo.

I still believe that my response is right! We’ve seen unparalleled support for Chicago's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community from the Daley Administration! The expansion of Chicago human rights legislation to include protection from gender identity, instituting domestic partnership benefits for city employees, creating the Office of LGBT Health in the city Department of Health, establishing the Advisory Council on LGBT Issues, support for the North Halsted streetscape project, backing the Center on Halsted, and so much more. It’s no wonder that Mayor Daley was inducted as a "Friend of the Community" into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2006.

Our next Mayor, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has shown to be just as supportive. Although I have yet to meet with him, he has my support as well.

Grateful!
Bill Pritchard

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