In 2000, Windy City Times established an award to acknowledge the young movers and shakers of the LGBT community: the 30 Under 30 Awards. Thirty young activists, journalists, students, HIV/AIDS volunteers and performers who were each under the age of 30 were honored for their achievements in moving the LGBT community forward. Each year since, another 30 get their day in the sun.
Awards were presented at the Center on Halsted Tuesday, June 24, 2008. Please follow the links to read about this year's honorees.
21, CIVIL-UNIONS ADVOCATE
Chris Jessup, 21, a native of Roswell, N. M., came to Chicago in June 2005 after graduating from Robert H. Goddard High School.
Jessup currently attends DePaul University, where he just completed his third year as an undergraduate student double majoring in political science and women's and gender studies with concentrations in public policy and social justice. He is seeking a minor in LGBT studies. He was recently accepted into the women's and gender studies five-year Bachelor's and Master's program, and will start graduate studies this fall.
He is a co-founder and lead organizer of the Web site, Civilunionsillinois.org ., which was born out of the grassroots efforts of over 8,000 young Illinoisans on campuses across the state who want a better life for themselves, as well as a more just and progressive Illinois.
Inspired by these young people who came together online to support equality and fairness, CivilUnionsIllinois.org works in conjunction with Equality Illinois, the ACLU, Lambda Legal, Equal Marriage Illinois, Stonewall Democrats, Young College Democrats, Log Cabin Republicans, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Human Rights Campaign and Gill Action Fund to promote civil unions in Illinois.
CivilUnionsIllinois.org is dedicated to generating grassroots support for Illinois House Bill 1826, which would provide committed opposite-sex, same-sex and senior couples with basic, fundamental rights under state law. Whether on college campuses, online forums or the main streets of Illinois towns, CivilUnionsIllinois.org is mobilizing and educating voters to support equality and fairness. As lead organizer, Chris speaks to multiple student and senior groups and others interested in marriage equality and civil unions about the importance of civil unions in Illinois.
DID YOU KNOW? Chris is the oldest of five and is a member of Delta Tau Delta International Fraternity, Iota Alpha Chapter.
28, ASSOCIATE PASTOR
Jen Rude is a 28-year-old Pisces. She knows all the 50 states in alphabetical order and has lived in six of them, having moved to Chicago three years ago. Although as a child she aspired to be the first woman president of the United States, she currently serves as associate pastor at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Lakeview and on the Youth Outreach Team at The Night Ministry ( working with young people who are experiencing homelessness and queer youth ) . Rude was the 12th 'extraordinarily' ordained queer Lutheran pastor in November 2007. She graduated from Augustana College in South Dakota, and then thought she would try a more progressive and queer-friendly area of the country. In Berkeley, Cal., she earned her Master's from Pacific School of Religion and learned why the city is affectionately nicknamed 'Bezerkeley.' Her favorite things about Chicago include the lake, summer festivals, public transit and Midwestern friendliness.
DID YOU KNOW? A childhood gymnast, Rude has been sighted more than once doing cartwheels on the streets of Chicago. Her first job was at Dairy Queen and she continues to love ice cream and all things sugary. As for her childhood, although she doesn't remember it, surely her subconscious is still working through the trauma of the time when she was two and a half years old and she slept through the whole night with a dead mouse in the foot of her pajamas. She is not a fan of animals to this day.
22, HOMELESS-YOUTH ACTIVIST
Patricia Posey, 22, was born and raised in Chicago's South Side in a single-parent home. Although both her mother and father were figures throughout her life, she faced serious trails alone. Posey attended Hyde Park High School from 1999 to 2004. She repeated her senior year due to the harsh realities of living an openly gay life. In November 2004, she became permanently homeless after her mother discovered she was a lesbian. In turn, she moved into a transitional shelter that became her home for the next four years. In January 2004, she was elected the GLBTQ chair of the National Network for Youth policy board. Posey served for two years before her advancement to the executive board. She is currently working for the state of Illinois and continues her quest to end youth homelessness.
DID YOU KNOW? Posey has started attending college. She participates in extracurricular activities, including college basketball.
Michael L. Vinson, 23, is a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar and the African-American Fellow at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. A graduate of Harvard University, where he received his bachelor's in government, Vinson was an active member of the John F. Kennedy Institute of Politics and served as the first openly gay president of the Kuumba Singers, an ethnically diverse choir that specializes in gospel, African folk songs and Negro spirituals. As president, he was able to secure the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, to serve as a faculty advisor.
Additionally, Michael co-founded BlackOut, a safe, confidential space for exploring issues of sexuality and gender for African-American students. A venue for soulful, affirming conversation, BlackOut gave students (whether out of the closet or not) an opportunity to dialogue with each other about the unique challenges gay, transgender, and questioning African-American young people face.
DID YOU KNOW? A native of Atlanta, Ga., Vinson is still trying to memorize the 'L' map, accept the horrendous winter weather and embrace the Cubs (not the Sox). He witnessed the end of 'the curse' in Bostonperhaps he can work a little magic in Chicago, as well.
Ray Prather, 27, is the owner of Prather Law Office, a law firm dedicated to estate planning, probate and related litigation. His practice includes helping couples and individuals achieve their diverse estate planning and charitable giving goals. Prather presented and participated in panels relating to estate planning including 'Estate Planning for LGBT Couples' at Howard Brown, 'Money Matters Workshop: Financial and Estate Planning' at Center on Halsted and 'Take the Power Symposium: Strategies for Life and Financial Planning' for Lambda Legal.
Prather has been a key leadership volunteer with Lambda Legal for the last two years. He began in 2006 as a legal intern in the Midwest Regional Office, where he assisted Lambda attorneys on issues related to freedom of speech (providing research for Lambda Legal's amicus curiae brief in the 'Bong hits 4 Jesus' case, Morse v. Frederick, before the U.S. Supreme Court), equal protection and due process in the Iowa marriage case and sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. He is a founding member of Lambda's Chicago Leadership Council and has organized Lambda Legal's Market Days presence last year, as well as this August.
He was recently appointed to Lambda Legal's National Planned Giving Council and is serving his second year as a member of the Illinois State Bar Association's Standing Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, where he is on the awards subcommittee. Ray graduated from Augustana College with a degree in accounting and received his J.D. from the DePaul University College of Law. Ray's prior experience includes clerking for Supervising Judge Drella Savage in the Domestic Relations Division of Cook County Circuit Court.
DID YOU KNOW? Prather ran cross country and track in college and recently took up cooking (including brunch involving fried oyster omelets).
Gabriela Zapata is a 25-year-old queer Latina who moved to Chicago in 2005. She has worked in the HIV field since then as a case manager, prevention counselor and as co-founder of the Advocacy Committee at Chicago House. She is very active in her community, and was a central organizer of Ladyfest Chicago 2007, a grassroots festival celebrating women in activism and the arts that raised over $3,000 for the Chicago Women's Health Center and Rape Victims Advocates.
Zapata plays the saxophone and trumpet, and sings in local queer feminist punk band The Pussy Pirates, who have performed to raise money and awareness for activist organizations, including HIV/AIDS Resource Center and Food Not Bombs. The Pussy Pirates enjoy support from Riot Grrrl Ink, the largest LGBTQ label in the world, and are looking forward to releasing their second full-length album in the fall. She has been playing classical piano since she was 3, and counts it among her most favorite things to do. Her other passions include nature, poetry, social justice, pizza, religion, body modification, literature, travel, language, riding her bike, recycling, animal rights, solitude, long-boarding and chocolate.
DID YOU KNOW? Gabriela loves her neighborhood, where she lives with her long term companion and is the proud mother of two doggies who brighten her every day with their fiendish humor and devilish talents.
More honorees at : www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/30-under-30-Honorees-GREGORY-FISCHER-WHITE-PROCTER-JACQUET-BEAM-MARR-and-SARNA/18732.html .