Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame to induct 11 people, 1 group, Nov. 10

Tue. November 10, 2015 10:25 AM by News Staff

Chicago, IL - Eleven individuals and one organization will be inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, the country's only known government-sponsored hall of fame that honors members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities, on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

The Hall of Fame's annual induction ceremony will take place from 5:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 10, at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St. The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., and the program is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. The event will be free and open to the public.

The inductees were selected by a committee composed of former inductees, which reviewed nominations submitted by members of the public. The names were released by Friends of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, a section 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

"This year's inductees, like our rosters since 1991, represent LGBT achievements in a variety of fields," said Gary G. Chichester, co-chairperson (with Mary F. Morten) of the Friends organization and a longtime leader in maintaining the Hall of Fame. "Each year, the Hall of Fame spotlights some of the many who have made contributions to their own communities and to the city as a whole."

"It continues to show how important contributions from our LGBT communities and from our friends pave the way for the future," said Israel Wright, executive director of the Friends organization. "It is humbling to recognize each inductee's special efforts to create change in ways that affect us all so greatly."

Hall of Fame inductees fall into one of three categories: "individual," "organization," or "friend of the community." Nominees represent all of Chicago's sexual-minority communities, including LGBT Chicagoans, past, present, living, and dead, as well as those who have supported or assisted them.

Those honored in 2015 are:

"Individual" Category

Jean Albright, 63, retired Air Force Master Sergeant, for her work to increase awareness of LGBT veterans and military members and to overturn the military's ban on LGBT service.

Fred Eychaner, 70, chairman of Newsweb Corporation, President of Alphawood Foundation, for his philanthropy, his public service, and his support of Chicago's LGBT communities.

Emmanuel Garcia, 33, journalist, youth mentor, and community leader, for his tireless advocacy and his pivotal role in organizing Chicago's Latina and Latino LGBT communities.

Stanley Jenczyk, 71, for his dedication and perseverance to establish a monument to LGBT veterans and service members in the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.

Phoenix Matthews, Ph.D., 48, Associate Professor and Clinical Psychologist (UIC), for more than 20 years of research on determinants of cancer health-disparities, with a focus on African American and LGBT populations.

Gail Morse, 57, attorney, for helping to secure civil rights for Chicago's LGBT communities through her professional, community and political leadership.

Michael O'Connor, 58, for his long-term contributions to the quality of life of Chicago's LGBT communities, specifically in public policy, communications, social services, and health care.

Barbara Smith (1946–2015), founding board member of Affinity Community Services, for her leadership, managing Affinity's finances for 12 of it's 20 years, founding its Forty Plus and Trailblazers groups, and for her advocacy role in the mentorship and support of black lesbians throughout the broader community.

Lauren Verdich, 69, for her key efforts in the establishment of Open Hand Chicago and her leadership in Chicago's LGBT business community and in progressive and women's politics.

"Organization" Category

Lesbian and Gay Police Association – Gay Officers Action League, founded to provide support for its members and to promote understanding between the police and the LGBT communities; its membership now includes firefighters, public safety officers, and associate members.

"Friend of the Community" Category

Jan Schakowsky, 71, U.S. Representative, for being a leading advocate on issues of importance to the LGBT communities, focused on creating change that brings about equality and justice.

Camilla B. Taylor, 44, attorney, for her successful prosecution of Lambda Legal's marriage equality lawsuit in Iowa and her further legal work on behalf of the LGBT communities.

The Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame was established in 1991 under the auspices of what was then the Chicago Commission on Human Relations' Advisory Council on Gay and Lesbian (later, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Issues, a municipal government agency. At the end of 2011, the advisory council ceased to exist after a commission restructuring, and the Friends organization succeeded it as caretaker of the Hall of Fame in partnership with city government.

Beginning with the first ceremony in 1991, former Mayor Richard M. Daley personally participated in the Hall of Fame's induction ceremonies. Current Mayor Rahm Emanuel has done the same.

The Hall of Fame's purpose is to recognize the achievements of LGBT Chicagoans, their contributions to the development of the city, and the help they have received from others. In 2015, it holds its 25th annual induction ceremony and continues to represent an official recognition by Chicago's government of the city's LGBT residents and their allies.

Those selected for the "individual" category are or were members of Chicago's LGBT communities and have made single far-reaching or significant long-term contributions to the quality of life of those communities or of the city as a whole. Those in the "organization" category are LGBT businesses and nonprofit groups that have done likewise. "Friends of the community" are non-LGBT-identified individuals and organizations that have contributed to the quality of life of the city's LGBT communities.