Black Queer Lives Matter: Donate to the Mutual Aid Fund
In June of 2020, LF launched the Black Queer Mutual Aid Fund of Chicagoland to help Black Queer people in need because Black Queer lives matter. At a time when people are rising all over the country to demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and all black lives lost to white supremacist violence, material support to black LGBTQ+ people in Chicagoland is more important than ever.
One of the best ways to fight white supremacy is to provide black folks (and particularly black queer folks) with the resources that are stripped from them by systemic injustice.
Lighthouse Foundation has raised over $16,000 and has directed $250 micro-grants to black LGBTQ+ folks in Chicagoland to assist with food security, rent, utilities, or any other needed costs.
Black Queer Pride Weekend
Black Queer Pride: Summer Edition was born out of a desire to both celebrate Lighthouse Foundation's first anniversary and offer a pride celebration that wouldn't require people to leave their homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lighthouse Foundation had heard that some Black Queer party promoters were creating in-person events to celebrate pride in the Black LGBTQ+ community.
We knew that large gatherings of our community in public places were irresponsible during a global pandemic, especially one that kills Black people in America at disproportionately higher rates. Within a matter of two and a half weeks, Black Queer Pride became a 3-day virtual event that LGBTQ+ folks could join from anywhere in the world. It featured various Black Queer vocal artists, poets, transfolk, cooks, homeowners, drag performers like Cleo Pockalips & Dida Ritz, and comedian Sampson McCormick. The viewership of our events over the 3 days ranged from 2,800 - 6,000 people. Black Queer Pride: Summer Edition shined a light on the talent, resilience, and joy that's present in Black Queer pride. To view the recordings of the event, check out the videos on our Facebook page here.
In August of 2019, Lighthouse Foundation determined that the community needed to address the Center on Halsted's employment of Walsh Security, the controversial security contractor. Past incidents involving Walsh Security’s owner, Chicago Police Department Officer Thomas Walsh Sr., along with other employees raised questions about their ability to interact with Black people in an equitable and respectful manner. Most notably Boystown Officer Walsh's physical and verbal assault against James Matthews, a Black security guard at The Lucky Horseshoe bar in 2013 while off duty. As of 2019, Walsh had still not served his 2015 60-day suspension levied by then-Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy as a result of that incident.
Lighthouse Foundation's CARE arm focused their protests on Center on Halsted's CEO, Modesto Tico Valle, urging him to hire a new security contractor.
Pictured above: Jamie Frazier, LF Executive Director, hand delivering the letter to the Center
The Foundation put together a letter requesting that Valle end the Center’s relationship with Walsh Security and work with Lighthouse Foundation to develop a new security strategy at the Center. On September 3, Jamie Frazier, Executive Director of LF, hand-delivered the letter to the Center on Halsted with 130+ signatures of people from 40+ institutions. In October, after a press conference with LF, the Center issued a request for proposals to replace Walsh Security. In January of 2020, Valle announced through a press release that the Center on Halsted hired a new security firm, Quantum Security, thereby removing Walsh Security. In just six months, LF had achieved this victory, thanks to the Black LGBTQ+ community for organizing, white allies who joined us in our petition, protests, and organizing meetings and finally Valle and The Center's Board president Angela Barnes for doing the hard work of racial equity.
The victories continued as LF's efforts set off a wave of change. In June of 2020, The Northalsted Business Alliance confirmed that it would also stop contracting with Walsh Security, meaning that they would no longer be staffing Boystown parades or festivals. Executive Director Jamie Frazier acknowledged the victory but also challenged Boystown: “This is a great moment that we need to turn into a movement. What are the institutional commitments that Boystown is willing to make around continued and constant investment in Black, queer communities?”
Racial Justice Summit
In light of the racist events surrounding Progress Bar as well as the racism experienced in Boystown and beyond, Lighthouse Church of Chicago UCC hosted "Racial Justice Summit: Boystown & Beyond" on July 13, 2019, during which Jamie Frazier announced the formation of Lighthouse Foundation and CARE, its action organizing arm. The event was packed, with Clergy of LGBT-inclusive churches and their parishioners present. Attendees had the opportunity to hear from various voices within the Black LGBTQ+ community from transfolk to cis lesbians, elders, and entertainers.
Karlyn Meyer, Leadership Council President, led a panel discussion in which members of the community shared their experiences with racism and transphobia along with their frustration on the slow progress for Black LGBTQ+ individuals. This event was an opportunity to come together to learn, lift up our voices and start a movement!
Pictured above (left to right): Alicia Lee, Lyric Lee, Dr. Vertie Powers, Tim Wolfe, Executive Director Jamie Frazier, Cleo Pockalipps, Council President Karlyn Meyer, Edward Davis