Sam was presented with two books by Ifti Nasim (second from left), the first published gay poet in the Urdu language in neighboring Pakistan. Nasim is the founder of Sangat, a South Asian LGBT organization in Chicago.
The following night, Scott Free led off the rally with his band, with bassist Michael Grimes and drummer Randall Murphy.
Co-emcee Izzy Becerril of GLN introduced the rally.
Izzy was joined in the co-emcee role with GLN’s Thomas Goree.
GLN’s Edward Farnham (right), one of the many volunteers who helped make the rally and march happen.
Wil Lockett of Sankofa Way and Black LGBT & Allies for Equality (Sankofaway.org) was the first speaker at the rally. Wil has been a leader in the effort to get the House of Blues to stop booking musicians who call for murdering gay people. This past spring, he called out a west suburban minister for preaching anti-gay hate in his church. As a result of Wil’s efforts and the threat of a counter-protest, an anti-gay rally at the church was cancelled.
Cathy Christeller, Executive Director of the Chicago Women’s AIDS Project, spoke about how many funds that previously had been used for scientifically-proven ways to prevent AIDS are now being used for “abstinence only” and “faith based” programs that are at best useless in the fight against AIDS, and sometimes even unwittingly help spread sexually transmitted diseases.
The rally speakers and music were accompanied by a 17-foot-wide visual display. Here, it introduces our third speaker, Kerry Kross, who was gay-bashed in a building associated with St. Linius Church in south suburban Oak Lawn, Illinois.
While Kerry demonstrated that anti-gay violence is NOT a problem confined to somewhere else, our next speaker, Sam Kosha of the Persian Gay & Lesbian Organization, demonstrated that anti-LGBT violence is an international problem. We showed a video presentation showing that anti-gay violence is rampant in both predominantly Christian and Muslim nations. Like he did the night before, Sam emphasized that he was completely opposed to an attack by the U.S. or its allies on Iran, pointing out that military action would hurt gays and non-gays alike, as we’ve seen so visibly demonstrated in neighboring Iraq.
Finally, we had the evening’s keynote address from Cliff Kelley. Kelley has the honor of having introduced the first gay rights ordinance into the Chicago City Counsel in 1973. Cliff endorsed full legal equality for LGBT people, including the equal right to marry.
Following Cliff’s address, we marched out of Boystown into the predominantly straight Wrigleysville bar district and then returned to Halsted and Roscoe for a short wrap up to finish out the night.