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Gay And Lesbian Hall Of Fame To Induct 11 Notable Chicagoans

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CHICAGO (CBS) — In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame will induct 11 new people and four organizations at a ceremony Wednesday evening.

The nominees will be honored at a ceremony at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St.

Chicago is the only city that is known to honor members of the gay community with a hall of fame affiliated with the city.

Over the summer, the city government ended its sponsorship for the Hall of Fame as a cost-cutting measure. The Hall of Fame is funded by private donations, but has received staff support from the city’s Commission on Human Relations, and members of the Advisory Council on LGBT Issues.

The city had assisted the Hall of Fame with postage for mailings and stationery, and allowed the organization to use the Chicago Cultural Center free of charge, Gay Chicago reported. But when the city sponsorship ended, the Hall of Fame was asked to pay $3,300 to rent the Cultural Center for the annual ceremony, and decided to move it to the History Museum instead.

With the change, the Hall of Fame Advisory Committee on the advisory council became the only link between city government and the Hall of Fame, Gay Chicago reported this summer.

But concerned Chicagoans have come in to keep the Hall of Fame alive, and this year, its ceremony goes on as usual.

“Though municipal budget problems have restricted government financial support for the Hall of Fame this year, we are grateful that individual Chicagoans have stepped forward to assist us, through Friends of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, in maintaining a needed and historically significant institution,” Gary Chichester, a co-chairman of the committee and of the Friends organization, said in a news release.

The honorees this year include:

• Paul Adams (1954-2000), an early HIV/AIDS activist who helped create the group Chicago for AIDS Rights and used his status as a Mr. Windy City contest winner to promote his activism effectively.

• Greg Cameron, 53, who created partnerships with LGBT groups as an administrator and fundraiser who has served as an executive with the Museum of Contemporary Art. He now works as chief operating officer of WTTW-Channel 11 and WFMT-98.7 FM.

• Antonia “Tata” Flores (1958-2008), who founded the “Dykes on Bikes” women’s motorcycle group in 1987, and coordinated its activities for the rest of her life while also running lesbian-affirming nightclubs.

• Grant Lynn Ford, 72, a former minister in the Assemblies of God church who became a pastor in the gay-affirming Metropolitan Community Church in the Chicago area and Florida, and founded the publication GayLife in 1975. He also ran unsuccessfully for alderman of the 44th Ward in Lakeview in 1978.

• Dr. Robert Garofalo, 45, the former director of youth services at the Howard Brown Health Center, and the current director of the Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention Center at Children’s Memorial Hospital. The Hall of Fame describes him as a national expert on promoting the health of gay and lesbian youth and those infected by HIV/AIDS.

• Ted Grady, 42, co-owner of Goose Island-based J&L Catering, which has sponsored numerous nonprofit groups. Grady also works on global LGBT issues with the Heartland Alliance human rights group, and has helped raise funds for several other prominent local nonprofits.

• Marcia Hill, 53, who played in, organized and promoted LGBT sports teams for 30 years, and helped Chicago land the 2006 Gay Games. Through her efforts, the LGBT sports group the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Organization from 200 members in 1983 to almost 4,000 presently.

• Tony Jackson (1876-1921), a legendary jazz pianist, composer and singer in the early 20th century, who came to Chicago from his native New Orleans in 1912 and penned the song “Pretty Baby” in 1916. He also mentored other leneds such as Jelly Roll Morton.

• Owen Keehnen, 51, a journalist, novelist, interviewer and activist whose work has appeared in national LGBT newspapers and magazines. He also serves on the board of the Gerber/Hart Library, the largest circulating GLBT library in the Midwest, located in Edgewater.

• Brett Shingledecker, 48, the co-founder of the People Like Us bookstore, which operated at 3321 N. Clark St. as the city’s only exclusively gay and lesbian bookstore from 1988 until 1997.

• Jon Simmons (1955-1994), who worked as a city government liaison on gay and lesbian issues under mayors Harold Washington, Eugene Sawyer and Richard M. Daley. Simmons was tragically shot and killed while on vacation in Los Angeles in October 1994. The case remains unsolved.

Also to be inducted as organizations are the Good Shepherd Parish Metropolitan Community Church and the Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles. The law firm Jenner & Block LLP and the social service organization the Night Ministry will be inducted as friends of the community.

The Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame was founded in 1991, with a mission of making Chicagoans and people around the world aware the contributions of the city’s LGBT community. Late newspaper columnist Jon-Henri Damski, pioneering gay businessman Chuck Renslow, the Howard Brown Health Center, and Gay Chicago — then known as Gay Chicago Magazine — were among the first inductees.

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