ChicagoPride.com Blogs
Thursday 23 Jun 2011

My Pride: Art Johnston

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 my friend Art Johnston.

Many in Chicago’s LGBT community know Art as co-owner of Sidetrack video bar in Boystown. Long before Sidetrack became the amazing success it has, Art and his Partner of 38 years, Jose Pena, stepped up to the plate and demanded our rights; donating to dozens of LGBT and HIV/AIDS causes.

A few years ago, Art asked me to join him for drinks. Honestly, I was so blown out of the water by the request. He’s been someone that I knew about long before I moved to Chicago in 2001. I quickly agreed and a time was set.

My best friend had to calm me down the day of our meeting. I was so nervous; it’s not every day that you get to meet one of your hero’s. I even took a whole day off from work, just so I wouldn’t be late. Art could not have been more warm and friendly. His reason for wanting to meet was simply to get to know me. An experience I will never forget!

A friendship was born out of that experience and I am truly grateful for it! Hearing Art’s perspective on life, the LGBT community, and the future of equality always causes me to redefine what I think is important in my life and in my work. Just seeing his smile makes any room brighter. His passion for people challenges me to want the same.

I am grateful!

Art’s hard work on our behalf has been over the top! Among his many achievements, Art has served on the board of the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, Harvey Milk Fund, the Northalsted Area Merchants Association, IMPACT, Equality Illinois and GAA/CMSA. He is also a founder of CAMMP (Coalition Against Media/Marketing Prejudice) and Equality Illinois. He and Jose have given their time and treasure for countless people’s ability to be free to love who they want and share in the equality we deserve.

The community is grateful!

This Pride, as we enjoy the festivity, I hope you will recall Art & Jose 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
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
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

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