Thursday, June 10, 2010

Who's That Queer [Vernita Gray]

Brought to you by Pistol Pete

Vernita Gray is the one of Chicago's preeminent LGBT leaders. She acts as a GLBT Liaison and Hate Crime Specialist at the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and is involved in addressing problems faced by GLBT seniors. She serves on the Task Force on Aging, the GLBT advisory committee to the AARP.has served Chicago's lesbian and gay community with distinction for over 20 years. She was an early activist serving lesbians and gay men in Chicago's African American community since the late 1960's.

After attending Woodstock and learning of the existence of the "gay liberation" movement she returned to Chicago and began organizing support groups at local colleges, and with friends, organized and hosted in her home support groups for lesbians. In 1969 she participated in the development of a telephone hotline at her home for members of Chicago's gay and lesbian community. With her well known sense of humor, the hotline telephone number was FBI-LIST. Interest in the support groups and hotline was so intense that Grey eventually had to vacate her apartment to obtain a modicum of privacy and peace of mind.

Given the the hostility in the African American community towards lesbians and gay men her activities were undertaken at some personal risk. Gray was instrumental in forming the first Lesbian Caucus of the nascent Gay Liberation organization in the early 1970's and the first Chicago lesbian newspaper Lavendar Woman.

Vernita was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1992. She will be speaking at Stonewalled: A benefit for AFC on June 18th at the Beauty Bar.

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