Originally published December 22, 2015
Rahm Emanuel and the LGBTQ Community —
An Open Letter to Equality Illinois and Its Supporters
This letter is an appeal to the conscience of Equality Illinois and its supporters.
There are times in civil rights movements when a simple act of courage — a Rosa Parks moment — can propel a movement forward. Right now, prominent Chicago organizations and individuals — through their support or rejection of Mayor Rahm Emanuel — face such a moment.
Rahm Emanuel showed contempt for democracy which was crass even by Chicago’s low standards when he concealed the dashcam video showing the police murder of Laquan McDonald.
It’s only thanks to a months’-long court battle that the City released the video and the officer was indicted for murder. Besides potentially being a felony, Emanuel’s act of concealment allowed him to steal the close-fought election for mayor.
Most Chicagoans, especially in the Black community, know they’ve been had. A December 5th poll of “likely voters” showed Chicagoans disapproved of Emanuel’s rule over those who approved by a nearly 4 to 1 margin. A 51% majority of likely voters — a serious undercount of minority and working class residents — said he should resign, versus only 29% who say he shouldn’t.
And there are at least two more police shooting videos of other young Black Chicagoans that the City is still fighting to prevent the release of.
This is a Rosa Parks moment because organizations like Equality Illinois are at a moral crossroads. Those that continue to give tacit or explicit support to Emanuel will not only participate in his contempt for democracy. They will also be sharing in his contempt for Chicago’s Black community, which disproportionately faces the police violence that Emanuel chose (and continues) to cover up.
More specifically, when an organization that is explicitly concerned with LGBTQ civil rights, trades respect for the rights of others in Chicago in exchange for political access, it compromises itself. But it also does worse: It sends a message that LGBTQs are ignorant of, or immune to, the sufferings of others, including large numbers of Black LGBTQs in our own community. It undermines or even destroys any future attempts we make to create bonds of mutual support and united struggle to win justice for all.
Equality Illinois, this is your Rosa Parks moment. We implore you not to invite — do not welcome — do not allow Rahm Emanuel in — to your 25th annual gala on February 6th. Do not extend a political lifeline of support to a vicious and manipulative mayor who right now so desperately craves it.
Stand up for all of Chicago.
Gay Liberation Network