United Pride a Proud Participant in Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade

United Way of Metropolitan Chicago and our member United Ways are proud to participate in Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade. This annual event gives time for a lot of fun and celebration as we come together to commemorate a year of challenges and successes. It allows us to remind ourselves of our sense of community by gathering as one. Even better, you might recognize that those who attend and walk in the parade are no longer just LGBT but also our families, friends and allies. This greater and expanding sense of community is what United Way believes in as we LIVE UNITED. Our efforts to reach out to connect over 200,000 people with available, preventative health services, to help advance economic stability for 100,000 households and our (my favorite) goal of helping 50,000 underperforming middle school kids enter high school ready to succeed also reach the 3-5% of the population that identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. That means at least 6,000 LGBT people are finding less challenge accessing healthcare, and quite possibly, based on the 2010 census, that 3,000 LGBT households are becoming more economically stable and even more exciting, 1,500 LGBT kids are receiving the tools they need to graduate from high school. Of course, there’s still more work to do and United Way will continue our goal to improve lives by mobilizing caring people to invest in communities where resources are needed most. We have pride in all the communities we touch and that includes the LGBT population in each. So look for us in our LIVE UNITED shirts on Sunday and happy pride!

Our Very Own Honored by Windy City Times

It is my pleasure to announce that Brett Taylor is the proud recipient of Windy City Time’s 2012 30 Under 30 Award, which highlights outstanding young adults in Chicago’s LGBT community. Brett is extremely supportive of United Way of Metropolitan Chicago in many ways. He is currently the Issue Awareness Committee’s Vice Chairman for our Young Leaders Society, was featured in United Pride’s “It Gets Better” video and is a new member of our external Diversity Committee. His community involvement doesn’t stop there. He is also a member of the Education and Training Committee at the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance and a nominee for a large LGBTQ organization’s young leader’s board in Chicago. Brett is currently employed at The Chicago Children’s Museum where he is the Special Projects Coordinator for the Office of the President. He is also a member of the museum’s All Families Matter Initiative, which is a community outreach initiative designed to welcome and engage the LGBT community. He is an incredible work partner and friend and it was an honor to nominate Brett for this award. The celebration to announce all the recipients of Windy City Time’s 30 Under 30 Award will take place on June 28, 2012 at The Center on Halsted. Please join me in congratulating Brett for all his hard work and dedication! Blog post submitted on behalf of Frances Boehnlein, Fundraising Manager at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago.  

National Coming Out Day – Oct 11

National Coming Out day is October 11th!   There has been a lot of discussion lately about the merits of coming out.   Whether you’re a celebrity or an office worker, our mental and physical health is predicated by the secrets we keep. Coming out is different for everyone.   It happens when planned, when unexpected, at the opportune, the worst and the best moments in our lives.   As LGBT individuals we choose to come out to people we meet every day.   I choose to mention my partner’s name and that he is my partner.   That simple act is coming out to the person receiving the information. Chatting about the dinner we cooked, the pets we share our lives with, his family that shares my life, when ever I mention these things I come out again.   And in the split seconds before I share those stories, I always question whether or not the person I’m sharing the story with is someone I can trust.   Someone I know won’t cause me pain.   Someone who won’t hurt those I love. But the good news is that once the cards are laid out on the table, the players can see the hand I’ve played.   I’ve changed the game and now they can continue to be a part of my life or choose to move on.   In essence, I’ve maintained my individual strength and power my sharing my story.   To quote a famous drag queen, “What other people think of you is none of your business.” — RuPaul

Spirit Day 10.20

In the recent news, Jamey Rodemeyer’s story has been shared frequently due to the tragic nature of his death.   He was an ardent Lady Gaga fan who, as many teenagers do, began to feel out of place.   He questioned his sexuality, felt the pangs of isolation and steadied himself by blogging and creating an “It Gets Better” video. Not without intervention, Jamey still found the bullying too much to bear and took his own life.   Tragically, even following his death, he (posthumously) and his sister have become subject of the bullying.   While attending a school dance she was taunted with jeers that her brother was better off dead.   Even those we have lost are no longer sacred.   How can we see hope in this tragedy?   Watch Jamey’s video.   You can also take action and wear purple! Spirit Day was created in 2010 by Brittany McMillan.   Brittany wanted to bring attention to the bullying and subsequent suicides of LGBT teens so she created Spirit Day.   The purple color in the LGBT flag is a reflection of the spirit of LGBT people everywhere.   Spirit Day is on a Thursday this year, 10.20.2011, and I encourage everyone to wear purple! “It doesn’t matter who you are,” everyone can wear purple — whatever! On the 20th, wear purple shirts, socks, belts, bandanas, pants and anything else you can think of that has purple in it.   If you work somewhere that’s conservative, wear a purple tie!   The point is that you wear purple in such a way that someone comments on or asks you about your attire so that you can bring their attention to bullying and the effect it has on so many teens, whether that be depression or suicide. You can “pledge to go purple” on Facebook and tell your friends. Save a life and wear some purple! If you need help, please contact the Trevor Project for more information.   866-4-U-TREVOR