Longtime gay activist William B. Kelley dies

Mon. May 18, 2015 9:05 AM by Windy City Media Group

bill kelley and partner chen ooi

photo credit // hal baim / windy city times
Chicago, IL - William B. Kelley, 72, who in 2015 was marking 50 years as a gay activist, passed away peacefully in his sleep the morning of May 17, according to Chen K. Ooi, his partner since 1979.

There were very few LGBT Chicago activists who stayed as consistently engaged in community activism as Kelley. He was part of the Mattachine Midwest chapter and wrote for and edited its newsletter. He helped organize the first national gay and lesbian conference in 1966—the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations, co-founded the Chicago Gay Crusader newspaper, and attended the first White House gay-rights meeting, in 1977, under the Carter administration.

In Chicago, he was a critical player in numerous organizations as a founder, member and sometimes leader. He chaired the Cook County Commission on Human Relations for its first 10 years. He co-chaired Illinois Gays for Legislative Action in the early 1970s, the Illinois Gay Rights Task Force in the late 1970s, and was inducted into the first class of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, in 1991.

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