Di Leo, 14 Others To Be Inducted Into Gay & Lesbian Hall Of Fame

by Gary Barlow
Thursday Sep 23, 2010

The Chicago Commission on Human Relations' Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues announced Sept. 15 that Gay Chicago Magazine co-founder Dan Di Leo has been selected for induction into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame Nov. 10, along with 10 other individuals and four organizations.

"Although Dan isn't around to accept this honor, we're sure he's looking down proudly at what he accomplished during his tenure in Chicago's GLBT community," said Gay Chicago Magazine publisher Craig Gernhardt. "Dan's legacy of fair and honest journalism for the GLBT community we hold in proud tradition at Gay Chicago Magazine to this day."

Di Leo co-founded the magazine with Gernhardt's father, Ralph Paul Gernhardt. It is the oldest LGBT community weekly in Chicago, begun in 1976 and one of the oldest in the United States. In honoring Di Leo, who was also a U.S. Army veteran, the Hall of Fame said "his experience and knowledge as a journalist and businessman were largely responsible for the early growth of the magazine, which is a cornerstone of Chicago's LGBT community."

Gay Chicago Magazine was inducted into the Hall of Fame in its first class of inductees in 1991. Ralph Paul Gernhardt was inducted into the Hall in 2004, two years before he passed away. Di Leo died of complications from AIDS in 1989.

"It was just a matter of time before the committee recognized the contributions Dan Di Leo also made in the early years of gay publishing," Craig Gernhardt said.

Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame is the only known government-sponsored hall of fame that honors members of the LGBT community, said CHRC Chairman and Comm. Dana V. Starks. ACLGBTI Director Bill Greaves said the Hall's website at attracts 45,000 hits a month.

This year's inductees are to be inducted at the Hall of Fame's 20th annual induction ceremony, 5:30 to 7 p.m. Nov. 10, in the Sidney R. Yates Gallery at the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph St. The event is free and open to the public.

"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," said Mayor Richard M. Daley.

With Daley announcing his retirement recently, this will mark the last time he honors new inductees at the annual ceremony.

"The rich contributions made to Chicago by its various communities are important to Chicago's quality of life," Starks said. "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."

Those inducted fall into one of three categories: Individual, organization or friend of the community. A committee of prior inductees makes each year's selections from nominations submitted by members of the public.

In addition to Di Leo, this year's inductees are:

Claudia Allen, 55, perhaps the most prolific contemporary writer of lesbian-themed plays; 11 of her 24 produced plays have lesbian themes or a major character who is lesbian or bisexual, including "Hannah Free," which premiered at Chicago's Bailiwick Repertory Theatre in 1992 and became an award-winning feature film in 2009.

Scott Free, 50, activist, musician, and founder of both Homolatte, the longest-running queer performance series in the nation, and ALT Q, another of the nation's longest-running festivals for LGBTQ performers.

Bob Gammie, 84, an active organizer and fundraiser since 1949, for his many years of community service, including being one of the first organizers of gay activities in non-bar settings, in particular the volleyball games in Lincoln Park that grew into the Lincoln Park Lagooners, which continues to flourish.

E. Patrick Johnson, 43, scholar, artist, and performer; for his leadership in the African-American LGBT community, including publishing two books that focus on black LGBT life: Black Queer Studies and Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South, an oral history of black gay men.

David Ernesto Munar, 40, for his leadership and advocacy on both local and national LGBTQ and Latino issues and, as a person living with HIV, for his work to shape local, state and federal policy on HIV/AIDS.

Achy Obejas, 54, activist and writer; appointed by former Mayor Harold Washington to the city's first Committee on Gay and Lesbian Issues and by former Mayor Eugene Sawyer to his Advisory Council on Gay and Lesbian Issues, she worked to secure passage of the Chicago Human Rights ordinance; as a journalist she shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2001, and she has published fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Paul G. Oostenbrug, 60, runner and community volunteer, for his long and dedicated service to Team Chicago, which takes LGBT Chicagoans to the Gay Games, and for his involvement on the boards of the Federation of Gay Games and Chicago House, a local AIDS service agency.

Jose R. Rios, 42, police officer, for his nine years of service as the Chicago Police Department's liaison to the LGBT communities of Chicago, including his extensive outreach to the deaf community, youth, other government offices, community organizations and police departments across the nation.

The Rev. Stan Sloan, 47, Episcopal priest and CEO of Chicago House, for his dedicated and innovative leadership in the homeless and AIDS service communities, including opening Sweet Miss Giving's Bakery, which serves as both a jobs program and a source of income for Chicago House.

Mark E. Wojcik, 48, legal scholar, John Marshall Law School professor, and founder of the Chicago Bar Association's Committee on Legal Rights of Lesbian and Gay Men, for leadership and mentorship in the legal profession and for promoting legislative change at the state and federal levels.

Asians & Friends-Chicago,for 26 years of providing a social network for gay men of Asian descent and building a bridge between them and the larger LGBT community, culturally, socially and philanthropically; as one of the first organizations of its kind, it inspired other similar groups to form elsewhere.

International Mr. Leather, for 31 years of drawing worldwide attention and attendance to Chicago by way of its annual weekend of events for the international leather community, significantly contributing to Chicago's tourism revenue; it has also been a pioneer in support of LGBT rights and health issues.

American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, as a Friend of the Community, for decades of support for the civil liberties of the LGBT community and persons living with HIV as well as for advocacy of nondiscrimination laws covering sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status.

Chicago History Museum, also as a Friend of the Community, for decades of acquiring and preserving LGBT historical documents and artifacts and for its groundbreaking "Out at CHM" lecture series, which presents LGBT history in the context of Chicago history.

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