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The City of Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame—the nation's only government-sponsored entity that honors members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community—has chosen 13 individuals and one organization for induction this year. The selection was made in a voting session on Monday, September 14, that was open to all hall of fame members. The free and open-to-the-public induction ceremony will take place Thursday, November 12, at the Chicago Cultural Center.
This year's inductees include leading figures in the arts, media, and medicine as well as politics and community activism. They are: Paula Basta, for her work on LGBT senior issues; choreographer Lou Conte, founder of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; police sergeant Lori A. Cooper, for her efforts on behalf of LGBT-friendly policy changes in the police department; pioneering journalist, award-winning novelist, and former Harvey Milk speechwriter Frank M. Robinson; filmmaker Zaida Sanabia, whose film A Fish Almost Eaten by a Shark has been screened nationwide to educate and train school administrators on creating safe schools for LGBT youth; composer Patrick Sinozich, musical director of the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus; Jorge Valdivia, founder of Homofrecuencia, the nation’s first Spanish-language radio program focusing on LGBT issues; longtime LGBT and AIDS activists Marcia J. Lipetz, Amy Maggio, Joey McDonald, and Jane M. Hussein Saks; the AIDS Foundation of Chicago; and two "friends of the community"—Congressman Mike Quigley (D-Chicago), a staunch supporter of gay issues in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Marilyn Urso, for her service as research registered nurse for the Howard Brown Health Center's Multi-Site AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), the world's largest epidemiological study on sexual practices and how they relate to the transmission of HIV.
"The rich contributions made to Chicago by its various communities are important to Chicago’s quality of life," said Human Relations Commissioner Dana V. Starks in making the announcement. "It is for that reason that we are pleased to recognize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and their allies with these Hall of Fame awards each year."
The Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame was established in 1991 "to recognize the achievements of LGBT Chicagoans, their contributions to the development of the city, and the help they have received from others," according to a press release, which also quote Mayor Richard M. Daley as saying: "Chicago is a city of many faces, and the LGBT community is an important part of that diversity. The community is thriving and moving forward, helping to build a strong social and economic foundation for Chicago."
(Full disclosure: I am a 2003 inductee into the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, and I nominated Frank Robinson for induction this year after interviewing him for the Reader last November at the time of the release of the film Milk, in which he appears.)