Big Fun in Chicago

In what we like to think of as “personal time” my dear partner and I went together to Chicago for some almost simultaneous gigs. Luckily we were scheduled to fly United to Chicago. Oops, I thought you were checking the electronic wiring in the wheel wells.
Urvashi spoke at the Race, Sex and Power Conference at Illinois University’s gorgeous new Forum Building. Her panel on “Sexual Citizenship” followed the opening plenary talk given by the indefatigable Dr. Jocylen Elders.
Dr. Elders had been Surgeon General in the first Clinton Presidency but was fired when she said that masturbation is a healthy part of safe sex. Bill did not stand by his woman. It’s his male-pattern badness. In the question and answer period after her wonderful talk, she remarked that more vows of abstinence have been broken than condoms.
I always wanted to make a bumper sticker that said, “I Masturbate and I Vote.” It gives a whole new meaning to “pulling the lever.”
After Urvashi spoke, she flew on to Minneapolis to address nine hundred attendess at the ninth annual “Rainbow Families” Conference. I stuck around and enjoyed the April lake effect snow in Chicago and emceed the 19th Annual LGBT Center Dinner at the gorgeous old Chicago Hilton Hotel.
On the morning of the dinner, the Center Board Chair, Robert Kohl and board member Vickie Raymont gave me a tour of The Center, opened just this year to serve the LGBT community. I thanked them for their time on such a busy day, but they said they love to show off their dream become reality. I soon saw what they meant.
The Center on Halsted is a stunning, welcoming, exciting space and even at 11a it was hopping. A cyber center, a gym, a counseling center, expandable meeting rooms, a theater, a community kitchen are all beautifully designed for the needs of the Chicago LGBT community.
A beautiful new Whole Foods Market rents space from the Center and they share a common café space. It’s a genius, innovative win-win situation. Other organizations should take note: GLAAD linked with Blockbuster, HRC with a Prada Store, The National Black Justice Coalition with Restoration Hardware, NGLTF with Cinnabon. Everybody loves Cinnabon.
The dinner was a real celebration of the opening of the Center. I introduced Lorna Luft. A friend at the Race, Sex and Gender Conference asked if it was the real Lorna Luft or a drag Lorna Luft. She was mighty real. After a great dinner, the dance band “Big Fun” cranked it up and Chicago got down.
I couldn’t wait to get back home to tell my friend, Richard Burns what I’d seen. Richard, who runs the NYC GLBT Center and is in the middle of a Capital campaign for an addition to the Center, was way ahead of me. He and his board already visited and stolen plenty of ideas!!