Renowned Businessman, Gay Activist Dies At 59

CHICAGO (CBS) — A renowned businessman and community activist in Chicago’s gay community has died at the age of 59.

Roger “R.J.” Chaffin died this past Friday after a short illness, the Windy City Times reported.

Chaffin was inducted into Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1997. At that time, he was described as “one of Chicago’s most visible gay businesspersons for more than 25 years” who raised thousands of dollars for AIDS charities.

The Ohio native moved to Chicago in 1974, and joined the staff of the old GayLife Magazine – for which he later became a writer, entertainment editor, critic and business manager, the Hall of Fame recalls.

In 1974, Chaffin and his partner were the subject of a three-part feature in the Chicago Sun-Times about same-sex relationships, which included coverage of a ceremony to honor their union at a Chicago church.

He co-produced “Crimes of Hate,” a documentary on the crisis of gay-bashing, in 1989, his biography recalls.

He was also director of the Circus Vargas Big Top, which raised thousands for HIV/AIDS charities, and directed the Leather Marketplace at the International Mr. Leather event for 18 years, the Windy City Times recalled.

Chaffin was also the owner of R.J.’s Video, originally in the 400 block of North Clark Street and later on Halsted Street in Boystown. He was also the owner of the now-shuttered Ragin’ RaeJean’s gift shop, formerly at 3450 N. Halsted St.

In 2008, a Yelp critic who had visited the gift shop called Chaffin “one of THE nicest, funniest men in this city.”

  • Truth B Told

    Wow! Must be a slow news day.

  • Big Gay Al

    More politically correct reporting from CBS. A cause of death is usually mentioned in a story like the one above. My guess is that this man died from complications attributed to AIDS / HIV. By mentioning that, the reader might get the impression that he died of something that he contracted through his lifestyle behavior. Which would mean that it is hard to have sympathy for someone who basically died because he was having unprotected anal sex with another man. To all of the chumps out there who donate money to causes to fight AIDS / HIV, you are wasting your money. The only way that AIDS will go away is if gays stop having anal sex when they are carrying a fatal disease. Donate money to cancer research. Outside of lung cancer, virtually nobody contracts cancer due to their personal behavior.

    • Elton John

      billyd’s @ss bleeds AIDS all over North Halsted every Saturday and Sunday morning on his walk home.

    • David Knight

      You sir…are an idiot…and rather than just leave things as they are, you have to inject your poison and vile into a difficult and sad moment for not just his family and the community. RJ did more in his lifetime to all of Chicago than you will likely ever accomplish in 20 of yours.

      And, for the record….his passing was not HIV related. So, get stuffed and keep your small minded stupidity to yourself. Trust me, the world will be a much better place.

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  • Billyd

    Nope, no leakage. Elton gives it a nice tongue bath before I leave to do that walk of shame.

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