LGBTQ+ Flag

Photo Courtesy of Choose Chicago.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center hosted an LGBTQ+ panel on June 30, 2021. 

The panel was filled with advocates for the LGBTQ+ community which included Laura Washington of the Chicago Sun-Times and ABC-7, CEO of Equality Illinois Brian C. Johnson, Senator Mike Simmons, Executive Producer of Art and Pep Kevin Hauswirth and Executive Director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders Janson Wu.

According to the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, “Before COVID-19, countries across the globe celebrated LGBTQ+ Pride Month with parades, marches, and celebrations. Although we must adjust and find a new normal due to the pandemic, this does not mean the celebrations will vanish.” 

Rahim Thompson, manager of public programs at Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, explained he put together a panel of creatives and thoughtful leaders who do work in different ways but for the same cause. 

“Laura Washington does tremendous work in the media and is a strong voice in the LGBTQ+ community in Chicago. I felt getting Senator Mike Simmons would be icing on the cake. He’s overcome so much to get to where he is. He’s someone everyone can look up to,” he explained. 

Rahim explained he wanted people who want to be heard and do great work. He wanted speakers to reflect on the last year and a half and how they had to adjust to continue their work of supporting the community. 

“With COVID, things have changed and I wanted to know as things begin to open, how has COVID, the lockdowns and the pandemic affected their work?” he said. 

The panel is an hour long and the speakers want the viewers to reflect on what pride means in this time of COVID-19. 

Kevin Hauswirth explains that in the last year in the “new” normal our eyes have opened to injustices. 

“What we saw over the past year, what we were living in the before times was unacceptable,” Hauswirth said.

Senator Mike Simmons explains the pandemic has ignited something in the LGBTQ+ community. 

“It ignited people across the board that it's pushing for a new status quo, a new set of ways that we all can survive and thrive,” Simmons said. 

To watch the panel: click here

Sam Wright is a reporter. Contact them at swrigh42@kent.edu.

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