2019 LGBTQ Advocacy Day

March 14, 2019

This legislative session is a busy one for champions of LGBTQ equality in Illinois. On the national level we are seeing a really big rise in anti-LGBTQ sentiment, particularly from the administration in Washington. Seeing that happen in Washington, we have to SHOW UP! and SPEAK UP! to support our allies and champions in the Illinois State Capitol and make sure that our state continues to demonstrate its values of being fully equal and inclusive. Register for the 2019 LGBTQ Advocacy Day on Wednesday, May 15, 2019!

This is a great opportunity to meet with fellow supporters of LGBTQ equality and let your voice be heard on issues that affect us all.
We hope to see you there!


International Trans Day of Visibility

March 14, 2019

Get excited, Chicago! Sunday March 31, 2019 is the most REAL, BEAUTIFUL, and NECESSARY holiday of the year! TRANS DAY OF VISIBILITY 2019!

Join us for a special celebration in honor of International Trans Day of Visibility! Enjoy an evening of music, drag, comedy, burlesque, spoken word and powerful speeches. The Chicago Therapy Collective is at it again building platforms for Trans/Gender Non-Conforming and QTPOC (Queer and Trans People of Color) artists to share their voices, sounds, movement, and truths.


Spring 2019 Network for Equality

March 11, 2019

Equality Illinois is pleased to have Priya Parrish, serve as the guest speaker at next month’s Network for Equality!

Priya Parrish is a Managing Partner at Impact Engine, a venture capital and private equity investment firm focused on companies that generate positive outcomes in education, health, economic empowerment, and environmental sustainability. Prior to joining Impact Engine, she served as Chief Investment Officer at Schwartz Capital Group, a single-family office investing across global markets. Previously, Priya was Strategy Head at Aurora Investment Management, a multi-billion-dollar manager of hedge fund portfolios, and managed product development of investment products that incorporated environmental, social and governance factors at Northern Trust Asset Management and KLD Research & Analytics. Priya currently serves as Impact Investor in Residence at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where she teaches and mentors students about impact investing strategies. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Babson College and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Throughout her career, Parrish has advanced workplace equality by advocating for diverse candidates and mentoring young leaders with diverse backgrounds. She volunteers with Girls Who Invest, a group that advocates for gender diversity in investing. Parrish has been involved in South Asian LGBTQ advocacy work through Trikone Chicago, which supports queer South Asians and their families, friends and allies.



Spring 2019 Network for Equality

March 5, 2019

Equality Illinois’ premier LGBTQ networking event, Network for Equality, is taking place Thursday, April 11, 2019 from 5:00pm – 7:00pm. This fun event serves as a space for LGBTQ people and allies to come together, network, and build community.  The funds raised support the work of Equality Illinois, the 501c4 arm of our organization working to build a more civically powerful LGBTQ community in the state of Illinois. For sponsorships or additional information, please reach out to Melissa Benge at


Lori Lightfoot advances to the April 2 run-off election!

February 26, 2019

A statement from Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, released the following statement following results of Tuesday’s municipal election in Chicago:

“While we wait for every vote to be counted, we are incredibly thrilled with the votes that have come in. We congratulate Lori Lightfoot for advancing to the April 2 run-off election and her historic candidacy as the first-ever openly queer person to run for mayor of Chicago. That is a significant milestone in Chicago and Illinois history. Representation matters. Now, let’s bring it home on April 2 and elect Lori Lightfoot Mayor of Chicago.”


Let’s vote for LGBTQ equality!

February 25, 2019

We have achieved great progress towards LGBTQ equality through engagement in the electoral process. Let’s keep Chicago a welcoming and affirming city. Let’s vote for LGBTQ equality.

In Chicago, there’s still time for you to have your say in who should be your next pro-equality Mayor, City Clerk, City Treasurer, and Alderman. Standing up for LGBTQ equality means showing up at the voting booth. This election, we have the power to vote for candidates who support equality for all. Thank you for following through on your commitment to vote this election.

Here are two simple steps you can take to make your voice heard at the ballot box:

Step 1: Check your registration status

Head to the Chicago Board of Election Commissionerswebsite to check your registration status and make sure it is up to date. If you are registering to vote for the first time or have to file an address update or name change, you can do that when you vote, but you must provide two forms of ID, one of which shows your current address.

Step 2: Make a plan to vote

Having a plan to vote is crucial to make sure your voice is heard this election. Making a plan is as easy as deciding what day and what time you want to vote.

On Monday, February 25, you can vote at the designated early voting location in your ward or at the Loop Super Site. Click here for more information on Early Voting, including locations and hours.

On Tuesday, February 26, a voter may cast a ballot only at the polling place assigned to that voter’s precinct. Click here to check your voter information and find your polling place. Polls will be open from 6:00am to 7:00pm and you can get up to two hours paid leave if you need to vote during the work day.


Lets Talk Equality Act

February 15, 2019

At a time when anti-equality forces seek to establish licenses to discriminate against civil rights protections in state legislatures and courts across the country, we are proud to live in a state with strong LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination protections in the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Yet, when LGBTQ Illinoisans travel outside of our great state, our rights and equal treatment are subject to the zip code in which we may work or visit. Some states and cities have inclusive protections, but most do not.

That’s why Equality Illinois supports the federal Equality Act to include LGBTQ people in national civil rights protections.

To celebrate the re-introduction of the Equality Act in the 116th U.S. Congress, we are proud to partner with U.S. Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-8) for an educational roundtable discussion about the Equality Act on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.

RSVP Here:

We hope you can attend and learn more about the Equality Act and how our members of Congress and Equality Illinois are fighting to advance justice for LGBTQ people in Illinois and across America.



February 13, 2019

SAVE THE DATE!  Equality Illinois’ premier LGBTQ networking event, Network for Equality, taking place on Thursday, April 11, 2019 from 5:00pm – 7:00pm at MillerCoors Roofscape.

This fun event serves as a space for LGBTQ people and allies to come together, network, and build community. 

For sponsorships or additional information, please reach out to Melissa Benge at


Equality Illinois supports bill SB 1 – $15 minimum wage

February 11, 2019

As an issue of fairness and justice to LGBTQ people, Equality Illinois supports increasing the Illinois minimum wage to $15.00. LGBTQ people should have the opportunity to provide for their families and establish economic security without burden or discrimination. Yet, our community is disproportionately affected by poverty.

Research shows that members of the LGBTQ community report lower incomes and higher rates of poverty than the general population .According to the 2018 report “Intersecting Injustice: A National Call to Action Addressing LGBTQ Poverty and Economic Justice for All” by the LGBTQ Poverty Collaborative, 25% of LGBT people experienced a period over the last year when they did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family, as compared to 18% of non-LGBT people. The statistics are higher when race is considered. For instance, 37% of black LGBT individuals said they did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family. Black same-sex couples are roughly three times more likely to live in poverty than white same-sex couples.

The Movement Advancement Project also reports that transgender people nationally are nearly four times as likely to have a household income under $10,000 per year as the population as a whole (15 percent vs. 4 percent). According to the Illinois data of the 2015 US Trans Survey, 21% of transgender Illinoisans report living in poverty.

A $15 minimum wage can elevate many LGBTQ people out of poverty and provide an opportunity for greater economic security for us and our families. In a 2014 study, the Williams Institute at UCLA predicted that raising the federal minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 to $15 an hour would reduce LGBT poverty by one-third for male same-sex couples and by almost one-half for female same-sex couples. The percentage of poor female same-sex couples would fall from 6.9% to 3.7%, a 46% drop in poverty. Poverty among men in same-sex couples would fall from 3.4% to 2.2%, a drop of 35% in poverty. The poverty rates of married different-sex couples would also decrease from 5.6% to 3.1%. Almost 30,000 people in same-sex couples would see their incomes rise above the federal poverty level.

These numbers demonstrate why raising the minimum wage in Illinois would have affirming impacts on the lives of LGBTQ Illinoisans. We urge the Illinois General Assembly to pass the bill, increase the state’s minimum wage to $15, and advance justice for LGBTQ people.


Emerging Leaders Circle

February 9, 2019


Equality Illinois is seeking a select, powerful, active group of young professionals to become the next generation of LGBTQ leaders. Equality Illinois envisions a fair and unified Illinois where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and where all people live freely regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or gender expression.

Ask yourself these questions:

  •  Are you 35 or younger?
  •  Do you care about advancing LGBTQ equality throughout our state?
  •  Do you believe in Equality Illinois’ key priorities: Policy, People, and Power?

POLICY–We defend our civil rights wins from anti-LGBTQ attacks and advance pro-LGBTQ policies with a focus on education, health care, and criminal justice.

PEOPLE–We work to get LGBTQ leaders in positions of influence throughout the state with an emphasis on placing LGBTQ Illinoisans on key state boards and commissions.

POWER–We create a civically-powerful statewide network of LGBTQ champions by identifying, training, and supporting LGBTQ and allied community groups throughout the state so they can grow and embolden their base.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, become an Equality Illinois emerging leader! Participation begins at $50/month or $600/year. Membership in The Emerging Leaders Circle includes recognition in our Annual Report, advanced notice of upcoming events, and complimentary entry to our Pre-Pride Parade reception.



February 5, 2019

BREAKING: The Inclusive Curriculum Bill (HB 246) just passed the Illinois House Education School Curriculum Committee! The vote was 13-7. Thank you to sponsor State Rep. Anna Moeller! The bill, which is an initiative of Equality Illinois, The Legacy Project, and Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, will include the contributions of LGBTQ people in the history curriculum in public schools.

Contact your state representative now:



February 3, 2019

Chicago opening night performance of Dear Evan Hansen on Tuesday, February 12, 2019, has SOLD OUT!

Proceeds from the sale of these tickets benefit Equality Illinois’ important LGBTQ civil rights work.

“One of the most remarkable shows in musical theater history,” says The Washington Post. The New York Times calls DEAR EVAN HANSEN “a gut-punching, breathtaking knockout of a musical” and NBC News says that the musical is “an inspiring anthem resonating on Broadway and beyond.”


A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. DEAR EVAN HANSEN is the deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it.


2019 Gala Raffle

January 24, 2019

Win a dream: TWO round-trip, Premium Cabin tickets to any destination that United Airlines serves. 
Taxes, fees and restrictions apply

Equality Illinois is excited to offer YOU a chance to win a dream: TWO round-trip, Premium Cabin tickets to any destination that United Airlines serves. Taxes, fees and restrictions apply.

From Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 10:00am CST to Thursday, January 31st at 4:00pm CST, you’re able to secure your chance to win by purchasing raffle tickets online. 

You can also purchase raffle tickets in person at the 2019 Equality Illinois Gala on February 2, 2019 at the Hilton Chicago.

For every one raffle ticket you purchase, your name is entered once for a chance to win these Premium Cabin tickets United donated to Equality Illinois. The drawing will be done at the Gala, but you need not be present to win.

Your raffle donation supports the ongoing LGBTQ civil rights work of Equality Illinois Institute.


Trump’s cruel Trans military restrictions

January 24, 2019

Equality Illinois responds to the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing Trump’s cruel Trans military restrictions

Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Illinoisans, issued the following statement:

Today’s Supreme Court ruling lifting two injunctions against Trump’s cruel ban on Trans military service is a slap in the face to Trans service members who have been serving with honor and distinction, many on the front lines. While the ban is not yet in effect, the Court’s decision to lift the injunctions blocking the ban means that Trans service members could soon face discharges.

Rejecting the brave military service of Trans Americans is contrary to our nation’s best values. Our military is strongest when it reflects the full diversity of our broad American community and when all Americans are welcomed to serve.  The military’s own research shows Trump’s ban weakens our military. The proposed ban will eventually mean losing qualified, trained service members and will eventually deprive the military of qualified recruits at a time when enlistment numbers are already low.

Equality Illinois will continue to stand with the Trans Community. We oppose this cruel and irrational ban, which serves no purpose other than to weaken the military and punish Trans service members for their patriotism and service.

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Equality Illinois 2019 Gala SOLD OUT!

January 18, 2019

As of today, the largest formal LGBTQ equality event in the Midwest, the Equality Illinois 2019 Gala has SOLD OUT of Individual Tickets!

We are incredibly grateful for the breath of support shown to the LGBTQ community. Selling out a venue like the Chicago Hilton demonstrates how important LGBTQ people are to the fabric of this state.  

If you will be joining a sponsor or table captain at one of their tables, please reach out to them for the link to secure your ticket.

This year’s Gala is chaired by community leader Nabeela Rasheed. South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, a rising national star among Democrats, will be the keynote speaker!  Each year we award inspirational leaders and organizations whose selfless work helps create a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. This year we will celebrate and honor Channyn Lynne Parker, Danny Wirtz, and the Illinois AFL-CIO.



January 11, 2019

Ahead of Chicago’s approaching mayoral election, LGBTQ Chicagoans have an opportunity to hear directly about issues impacting their lives at the LGBTQ Forum with Chicago Mayoral Candidates on Saturday, January 19 at 2 p.m. #LGTBQMayor2019

Mayoral candidates who have confirmed attendance as of Jan. 8 include: Gery Chico, Amara Enyia, Bob Fioretti, LaShawn Ford, Jerry Joyce, John Kozlar, Lori Lightfoot, Garry McCarthy, Susana Mendoza, Toni Preckwinkle, and Paul Vallas.

Submit questions for the candidates and RSVP by clicking the Learn more button.


New Majority House Leader State Rep. Greg Harris

January 10, 2019

Equality Illinois Celebrates the Appointment of Openly Gay State Rep. Greg Harris as Illinois House Majority Leader and Thanks Speaker Michael J. Madigan for his Leadership

A statement from Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Illinoisans:

“We are excited by Speaker Michael J. Madigan’s appointment today of State Representative Greg Harris to be the next Illinois House Majority Leader. This is a historic appointment. Leader Harris is the first openly gay person to hold the important role of Illinois House Majority Leader.

“We know Leader Harris as a true champion of advancing justice and equality for LGBTQ people and all historically marginalized communities. We look forward to working with him in this significant leadership role to continue advancing justice in Illinois.

“We thank Speaker Madigan for his significant leadership in advancing LGBTQ equality in Illinois. Just yesterday, we heard in nominating speeches of the Speaker’s critical role in passing marriage equality legislation in Illinois. Today, his appointment of Leader Harris further demonstrates the Speaker’s commitment to LGBTQ equality and representation.”


Equality Illinois 2019 Gala

January 8, 2019



President Obama named him one of four Democrats who represented the future of the Democratic Party and the New York Times ran a column saying that he could be the nation’s “first gay President.”

South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, a rising national star among Democrats, will be the keynote speaker at the 2019 Gala presented by United, set to begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 2 at the Hilton Chicago.

This year’s Gala is chaired by community leader Nabeela Rasheed and is on track to be one of our most successful and vibrant yet! Each year we award inspirational leaders and organizations whose selfless work helps create a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. This year for their dedication to social justice and equality, Channyn Lynne Parker of Howard Brown’s Broadway Youth Center, and Danny Wirtz the Vice-Chairman of Breakthru Beverage Group will be the recipients of the 2019 Equality Illinois Freedom Award. The Equality Illinois Organization Leadership Award, given annually to organizations that demonstrate remarkable vision, courage, and leadership in the efforts to achieve full equality for LGBTQ individuals in Illinois, will be presented to Illinois AFL-CIO.



January 5, 2019

With the civil rights of LGBTQ Americans under attack by the Trump Administration and the urgent need to continue our pro-equality progress in the City of Chicago, LGBTQ Chicagoans need to know where the candidates for mayor stand on the many issues of interest and importance to our lives.

LGBTQ community organizations Affinity Community Services, the Association of Latinos/as Motivating Action, the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus, the Equality Illinois Institute, the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois, Pride Action Tank, and the Windy City Times are hosting the LGBTQ Forum with the Mayoral Candidates at 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 19, 2019, at the Second Presbyterian Church, 1936 S. Michigan Avenue, in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood.

Please join us at this important public forum. To attend, please RSVP by clicking on the register button.

Can’t make it to the LGBTQ Mayoral Forum but still have questions for the candidates? Submit your questions by clicking on the question submission button.

This event precedes Chicago’s mayoral election on Tuesday, February 26, 2019.


Equality Illinois 2019 Gala

January 3, 2019


We are just 30 days away from the largest LGBTQ equality event in the Midwest! Have you LOCK in your tickets???

This year’s Gala is chaired by community leader Nabeela Rasheed, and is on track to be one of our most successful and vibrant yet!  Each year we award inspirational leaders and organizations whose selfless work helps create a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. This year we will celebrate and honor Channyn Lynne Parker, Danny Wirtz, and the Illinois AFL-CIO.


Happy New Year from Equality Illinois

January 2, 2019

Here’s to another year of working towards creating a more inclusive, diverse and progressive Illinois.

Equality Illinois wishes EVERYONE a happy, healthy, safe and equal 2019!


Year-End Giving

December 26, 2018

As Equality Illinois comes to the end of another successful year of serving LGBTQ Illinoisans, we want to THANK YOU for your contributions and volunteer service! Today, we are calling on your support to participate in our annual “Year-End Giving Campaign” as we continue to pave a future free of bias, bigotry, and discrimination. Your contribution will continue work that proves hate is not an Illinois value. In 2019 we look forward to continuing to be a shining example of what it means to standing on the frontlines of social and political advocacy.

Your commitment of a “Year End” pledge or a one time annual gift, will allow Equality Illinois an opportunity to continue our legacy and tradition of education, advocacy, and service for years to come.

For any other gifts please contact our Director of Corporate Partnerships & Individual Giving, Melissa Benge at  or 773.477.7173.


Human Rights Ordinance

December 21, 2018

On December 21, 1988, with a vote of 28-17 the City Council passed the Human Rights Ordinance. This Passage of the ordinance on Human Rights, was a turning point in Chicago LGBT history because it granted the queer community  social equality under the law and made it illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals and other kinds of diversity and other such as people with disabilities, marital status, race, age, religion and several other categories.

It was because of the strategies of the late Mayor Harold Washington, and the powerful “Gang of four”; Laurie Dittman, Rick Garcia, Arthur (Art) Johnston and the late Jon-Henri Damski; who served as a fierce group of activists and were instrumental in the final passage of the ordinance.

We are grateful for their efforts and countless others in our community, who have contributed and committed to the equality we have been granted today.

To learn more about this historic ordinance visit:


An LGBTQ youth’s identity is never disruptive

December 20, 2018




December 20, 2018

Daniel Mair

Steve Nauman
President of the Board of Education

Kate Williams

Germantown Hills School District #69
103 Warriors Way, Germantown Hills, IL 61548

Dear Superintendent Mair, President Nauman, and Principal Williams:

On behalf of Equality Illinois, the statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, I write to express my dismay in Principal William’s letter to parents last week. By claiming that an LGBTQ youth’s expression of their sexual orientation or gender identity is disruptive, without any mention that she believes a straight or cisgender youth’s expression of their sexual orientation or gender identity might do the same, sets a harmful double standard.  This double standard is inconsistent with best practices for supporting youth, with Illinois laws such as the Illinois Human Rights Act, and our values as Illinoisans. An LGBTQ youth’s identity is never disruptive.

Educators have a sacred duty to protect and affirm children and young people. To that end, the laws of the State of Illinois strive to create an affirming and respectful environment for all students, including those from historically marginalized communities. Laws like the LGBTQ-inclusive Human Rights Act and anti-bullying protections, which have all been adopted with bipartisan support, reflect the values of the Land of Lincoln that all students should be treated with dignity, should be affirmed, and should have the freedom to learn and grow without burden or hostility.

Yet, even in a pro-equality state like Illinois, school life for LGBTQ youth is challenging. According to Illinois data from the U.S. Trans Survey (2015), 80% of individuals who were out or perceived as transgender at some point in their K–12 education experienced some form of mistreatment, such as being verbally harassed, prohibited from dressing according to their gender identity, disciplined more harshly, or physically or sexually assaulted because people thought they were transgender. Furthermore, based on GLSEN’s 2015 School Climate Survey, we know only 27% of LGBTQ youth in Illinois report hearing anything positive about LGBTQ people – people just like them – in the classroom. We must all do better to support LGBTQ youth.

The school district’s proposition – that expression of only LGBTQ youth’s sexual orientation or identity is disruptive – is harmful. LGBTQ youth who experience rejection and social stigmatization are more likely to have high levels of depression, more likely to engage in substance abuse, and more likely to attempt suicide.

And the presence of a rule doesn’t inherently make it fair or even reasonable. The lack of inclusivity and compassion by school administrators is telling and alarming in its implications for what other biases may come into play while educating students. School boards should create environments that affirm each and every student and facilitate the educational process with excellence and dignity.

We urge the Germantown Hills District #69 Board of Education and school administrators to re-evaluate your position and affirm the dignity of each young person in a way that does not further marginalize LGBTQ young people. If we can be of any further assistance, including in setting up trainings regarding LGBTQ cultural competency or as a sounding board for your questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at (773) 477-7173 or


Brian C. Johnson
Chief Executive Officer


Equality Illinois 2019 Gala

December 13, 2018

Now is the time to LOCK in your tickets and seating for the largest LGBTQ equality event in the Midwest and one of the largest in the country!

WE invite YOU to Equality Illinois’ 2019 Gala presented by United Airlines and hosted by Hilton Chicago taking place Feb 2, 2019.

This year’s Gala is chaired by community leader Nabeela Rasheed, and is on track to be one of our most successful and vibrant yet!  Each year we award inspirational leaders and organizations whose selfless work helps create a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. This year we will celebrate and honor Channyn Lynne Parker, Danny Wirtz, and the Illinois AFL-CIO.