Chicago is considered to be a major center for the LGBT community. The city has a long history of the movement, dating back to the early 1920s (De la Croix 5). Illinois is known for having been lenient with the community even when the country’s beliefs and opinions on the matter were hostile. It was the first state to repeal the Sodomy act in 1961 (De la Croix 36), thus affirming one of the fundamental human rights available to people – the right to choose whom to love. Nowadays, the LGBT community in Chicago prospers, and is actively involved in the social and political life of the city. Despite the periodic ostracizing by the Church and certain radical groups, the LGBT community remains an open-minded and positive organization focused on promoting equality and protecting human rights.
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The members of the community are comprised of men and women of different age groups. However, the dominating majority of members is between 20-30 years old, representing the younger generation. Older members are not as common. The community has received an influx of members ever since president Obama allowed gay marriages in 2012. African-Americans are well-represented within the community.
The LGBT community of Chicago promotes values and ideals common to every community worldwide – freedom of expression for people of non-traditional sexual orientation. They protest against discrimination and violence and support programs and initiatives that promote peaceful coexistence. In addition, the groups offer support and understanding to their members.
The main community center for the group is located in The Center on Halsted, as it was historically located there. However, as the community grew and was allowed to come out of hiding, several other institutions appeared. Among them are Howard Brown Health center, preoccupied with providing healthcare for the LGBT, Windy City Radio, and Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, which commemorates the people and historical events of the community (Austin and Brier 44).
LGBT community takes part in many events. The community is involved in a great deal of social work, ranging from cultural events and actions to charity, education, and training. The community has several programs for the youth, like Teen Hang, Youth Work It, Girl Scouts, and Open Youth (“Events by Date” par. 1). The atmosphere within the community is amicable and informal, as this organization is built on friendship, understanding, and trust.
The members of the LGBT community connect to one another via social media, meeting one another in the community centers, and attending events hosted by the organization. The Windy City Radio serves as an information portal, informing people about the latest news. The community also features a site, where one can find all the relevant information, including the scheduled events and programs available to the members.
The existence of the community in Chicago is very significant both to the city and to the cause they are promoting. In the early 1920s, they were akin to an underground movement, created solely to help each other out (De la Croix, 5). It was a union of people that stood together and faced the aggression of the people, the church, and the state. Nowadays it exists as a center of consolidation and concentration of civic efforts and helps the associates of the LGBT community express themselves as equal members of the society.
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A society could be judged based on how fairly it treats its minorities. The evolution of Chicago and the American society, in general, could be seen through the history of the LGBT community. From an underground movement hiding in basements and renting small apartments, it grew to be an integral part of the American society. Although there is still a long way to go, the community members show determination in promoting acceptance and peaceful coexistence.
Austin, Jill, and Jennifer Brier. Out in Chicago: LGBT History at the Crossroads. Chicago History Museum, 2011.
De la Croix, Sukie. Chicago Whispers: A History of LGBT Chicago before Stonewall. University of Wisconsin Press, 2012.
“Events by Date.” Center on Halsted, Web.