Celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride Month

Thursday, June 1, 2023

This year, UI Health explores the journey for LGBTQ+ inclusion in the US while recognizing the progress made and still being sought for the community.

For much of the nation’s history, the LGBTQ+ community has been misunderstood and vilified, subject to discrimination in the public and private sectors. Changing the narrative and perception of the LGBTQ+ community has required significant effort and struggle.

On June 28, 1969, the NYPD raided the Stonewall Inn, a known gay-serving establishment. At the time, police raids on bars that served the gay community were common across the nation. In fact, there are a host of other large scale raids and uprisings that predated Stonewall, in cities like Baltimore, Milwaukee, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Nonetheless, this raid of the Stonewall Inn sparked a pivotal moment in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms. The raid resulted in 6 days of conflict. While these conflicts have been characterized as riots, Stonewall veterans have long characterized this time as a rebellion or uprising.

The first New York pride parade was held the following year on the anniversary of the pivotal raid of the Stonewall Inn, called the Christopher Street Liberation Day. The march began on Christopher Street where the bar — now a historic landmark — was located, and it ended in Central Park. The event attracted thousands and signaled another important milestone. In the years that followed, more cities and towns organized parades in support of gay rights.

The city of Chicago has likewise made significant strides in respect to LGBTQ+ individuals. Raids of LGBTQ+ bars were also common in the city. Chicago’s attitude toward the LGBTQ+ community has dramatically shifted. Chicago also hosted its first pride parade in June 1970 in commemoration of the Stonewall uprising. Organizations to support and provide safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community were established, including Gay Horizons, which is now known as the Center on Halsted. Today, the center continues to offer community resources in a safe environment with a vision of “a thriving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, living powerfully in supportive inclusive environments.” Chicago is also home to the Howard Brown Health Center, a non-profit healthcare and social services provider that specializes in care for the LGBTQ+ community. In November 1998, the city designated North Halsted as an official gay neighborhood.

Today, there are several leaders across all sectors (i.e. politics, healthcare, academia, athletics) that openly identify as LGBTQ, demonstrating that LGBTQ+ contributions have an impact locally, nationally, and internationally.

Modesto Tico Valle served as the CEO of the Center of Halsted from 2007 to 2023, overseeing the opening of a brand-new facility for the Center. He was also the founder of the Chicago Chapter of the NAMES Project Memorial Quilt and helped with bringing the AIDS Memorial Quilt to the National Mall in 1996. Valle was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1998.

Beth Ford is the first openly LGBTQ+ woman to serve as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She was named the CEO of Land O’Lakes in 2018 and continues in that role today. In addition to her leadership role at Land O’Lakes, she actively advocates for rural farmers and the LGBTQ+ community.

However, even as the visibility and prominence of LGBTQ+ individuals continue to increase, a Chicago transgender activist and UIC alum, Elise Malary, was found dead in 2022. The unknown circumstances, and shocking number of transgendered individuals who have gone missing or lost their lives in recent years, demonstrate that there continues to be more work to do to address discrimination. The Chicago Mayor’s Office honored Elise in November by announcing its participation in the Hire Trans Now pledge, in collaboration with the Chicago Therapy Collective. Participation in the pledge aims to reduce the economic disparities faced by the transgender population by actively seeking to hire transgender individuals.

UI Health is proud to have been named an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader by the Human Rights Campaign’s Health Equality Index in 2022 for the 8th year. We celebrate and affirm our LGBTQ+ staff, faculty, and patients and are committed to LGBTQ+ inclusive, patient centered care.

Are you interested in learning more about LGBTQ+ Inclusive Care?
Introductory and in-depth training is publicly available at the National Institute of LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center. CME/CEUs are available for many of the webinars and learning modules, registration is required.