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Illinois Governor & others mourn loss of Black Trans activist Elise Malary

“A tireless advocate for the LGBTQ community passionate about her work- her kindness & infectious smile will be missed”



Elise Malary (Facebook/Chicago Therapy Collective)

SPRINGFIELD – In a tweet Saturday evening after Evanston Police announced that the body of a woman recovered from Lake Michigan was the missing Black Trans activist Elise Malary, Illinois Governor Jay Robert “J. B.” Pritzker expressed his condolences to her family and friends.

“The loss of Elise Malary is heartbreaking. My heart goes out to all her loved ones, as well as all of Illinois’ transgender community. You deserve to feel safe in your home, and I will continue to do everything in my power to make Illinois welcoming and inclusive for everyone,” the Governor said.

Malary had been missing since March 9 after she sent a text to her sister Fabiana around 9 a.m. – her last known contact. She was later reported missing on March 11.  Evanston police confirmed Saturday the body pulled from Lake Michigan on Thursday has been identified as the missing 31-year-old prominent LGBTQ+ activist.

A board member of the Chicago Therapy Collective, she worked tirelessly for the Chicago area LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities.   Malary was also a member of the community advisory group for Equality Illinois, extensively fundraised for various community groups, and worked with the Illinois attorney general’s Civil Rights Bureau.

The office of Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul released a statement:

“Today is a devastating day for the Office of the Attorney General. After hoping for several days that our friend and colleague Elise Malary would be safely reunited with her family, friends and loved ones, we have received confirmation of the unthinkable.

“Elise was a valued member of our Civil Rights Bureau who, as a tireless advocate for the LGBTQ community, was passionate about her work. Her kindness and infectious smile will be missed by those who worked with her.

“The Attorney General’s office has lost a member of our family, and as an office, we are heartbroken.

“I extend my deepest condolences to Elise’s family and friends. May Elise’s memory inspire all of us to live authentically and have humanity toward all.”

The state’s Lt. Governor, Juliana Stratton, also expressed her condolences saying; “I met Elise Malary at a meeting doing what she did so well: advocating for equitable access to healthcare and safe work spaces for LGBTQ+ Illinoisans. Her life mattered. And our brief encounter made me a better leader. Peace and love to all who are mourning. Rest well, Elise.”

Malary had a serious political impact especially for her fellow Trans community members. Lyricist, Writer, Humanist and President of Chicago LGBTQ Workers Center, Angelina Nordstrom expressed her grief writing;

“I’ll make this short. Our beloved friend, advocate, & sister Elise is no longer with us. My heart is shattered. While many of you have lost an advocate & a role model, I lost my best friend & my sister in community. Until we meet again, babygirl . . . RIP Elise Lydia.”

Brave Space Alliance, a Black and trans-run Chicago-based center has created a fund to help cover her funeral expenses.

In a statement, the alliance said: “Brave Space Alliance is devastated to learn that missing trans liberation leader, and beloved Chicago trans community member Elise Malary was confirmed dead today by the City of Evanston Police Department. Elise was a pillar of our community, a friend and accomplice to many, and a shining example of Black Trans Excellence.

“Elise’s work to advance the interests of trans people in Andersonville with the Chicago Therapy Collective has touched countless lives, and helped make Chicago a better place for trans people to live, work, and thrive.”

The funeral fund, the group said, “will be working with Elise’s family to ensure that she receives a memorial deserving of her dedication to Black Trans Liberation.”

The City of Evanston Police Department declined comment noting there is an investigation ongoing into Malary’s death.



Illinois high school drama club’s show axed over ‘safety’ concerns

“However, due to feedback from our students and the school community, the district is reconsidering the decision to postpone the musical”



Hampshire High School, 1600 Big Timber Rd, Hampshire, Illinois. (Photo Credit: District 300 Schools-Hampshire High School/Facebook)

HAMPSHIRE, Ill. – Music and theater students at Hampshire High School were all set and thrilled to put on their version of a production of Tony® and Emmy® award winning Matthew Sklar‘s critically acclaimed musical “The Prom,” next Spring when the Superintendent axed the show over what she deemed were safety issues.

The Hampshire High School Music Department had acquired the rights to stage the production and according to Hampshire High School alumni and Bradley University sophomore Maggie Little, Hampshire High’s principal Brett Bending, Ed. D., had cleared the student-run production.

In a August 18, 2016 PLAYBILL synopsis, “the musical follows four Broadway actors lamenting their days of fame, as they travel to the conservative town of Edgewater, Indiana, to help a lesbian student banned from bringing her girlfriend to high school prom.”

Little noted about the musical in her petition to get the Superintendent to reconsider her decision: “The PTA decides to cancel the whole event in lieu of creating an inclusive environment or barring her completely, and in return, it blows up online causing four washed-up Broadway stars needing some credibility to show up at the school and fight for her as a way to improve their own reputations. Chaos ensues and it ultimately becomes a heartwarming story of what love really means – bringing a whole community together.”

The Prom production publicity graphic.

This past Friday, Oct. 20, the District 300 schools Superintendent Susan Harkin and the District’s Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Adrian Harries, met with students from the Music and Theatre Departments and other students telling them that the staging of the show would not be permitted, explaining that there were fears of violent protests and that staff and faculty were not prepared to deal with those issues.

According to Little and others, particularly LGBTQ+ students, presented arguments to persuade Superintendent Harkin that there was community backing for the show. The students stated passionately “about how this show allowed them to finally feel represented, sharing stories of how the community has supported them in the past and while there may be a loud minority that does not agree with the content of the show, it is important that the show goes on.”

Henry Hanson, a senior and a member of Hampshire High’s Boys Varsity Cross Country team noted:

This is not the first time I have seen the theater department told that they cannot do a show based off of the content of the show and potential backlash from it. I sincerely hope it is the last. I whole heartedly believe that art should not be censored no matter what form it takes. I would understand if the show itself was breaking some sort of district rule or policy. However, it has been stated multiple times by district heads that there is nothing wrong with the content of the show and that the reason we are not doing it is because of their fear of backlash.

We’ve had multiple events in the past couple of years of me being at the school that could have warranted the same kind of backlash that this show would allegedly cause, for example, the Day of Silence put on by the GSA club, and a lesbian couple that was elected as homecoming royalty.

From these events I’ve seen overwhelming support and kindness. That which could be considered backlash was a little more than a few people posting their disgruntled thoughts online. The district heads that have given pushback have done little to produce any evidence of their claims about a “vicious” group of people who would be a threat to us. I’d like to thank everyone who has shown their support including but not limited to the very active parent group supporting their children, the staff at Hampshire who have expressed support for this musical, and all of you that have signed this petition.

An extra big thank you to Maggie Little who came up with the idea of doing this petition. I could never have expected the series of events to take place, but it has been heartwarming to watch the community come together and support of the theater department and our choice of show.”

A member of the Hampshire High School’s LGBTQ+ community, sophomore Sienna Hughes, wrote:

“I’m a sophomore at HHS. When I found out The Prom was supposedly going to be our musical, I was overjoyed. Now I’m so angry and confused and upset that it’s being held back for a reason that makes zero sense. As a member of the LGBTQ community I feel like this show would benefit students, not harm them. This quote-on-quote “group of people” that could “cause harm” do NOT have the guts to do anything to stop the show. I know Hampshire. I know this school. I have no fear because I know nothing will happen.”

On Monday evening, the office of Superintendent Harkin issued a statement indicating that her office was reconsidering the decision:

I would like to provide an update regarding a recent decision to postpone the performance of the musical “The Prom” at Hampshire High School, initially scheduled for April 2024. “The Prom” is a musical that showcases LGBTQ+ relationships, and Hampshire High School intends to perform the musical this spring.

On Friday, October 20, the district announced a decision to postpone performances of “The Prom” due to safety concerns for our students. However, due to feedback from our students and the school community in support of “The Prom,” the district is reconsidering the decision to postpone the musical, contingent upon developing and implementing a comprehensive safety plan to ensure the safety of all students and staff.

The initial decision to postpone the musical was unrelated to Hampshire High School students or their desire to demonstrate their school’s progress toward supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Instead, the postponement reflected a concern held by our administrative team that the larger District 300 community may not be prepared to fully support this performance without risking potential harassment, bullying, and violence targeting our LGBTQ+ students, performers, staff, or community members.

Unfortunately, there has been a rise in harassment, bullying, threats, and violence directed toward the LGBTQ+ community, locally and nationally. In District 300, we have experienced community members seeking to “out” students involved in our Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). We have received numerous hate-filled emails regarding the district’s Day of Silence. Last month, the district received threats and inappropriate comments from community members related to our LGBTQ+ Learning Space meeting held at a District 300 school. Additionally, we have seen harassment targeting the LGBTQ+ populations in our communities.

Due to the seriousness of these circumstances and our concern for our students, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community, the district believes a comprehensive safety plan must be in place before the musical can proceed. Hampshire High School and District 300 have started developing such a safety plan.

District 300 believes in offering inclusive performances representing and supporting all District 300 students. We want to ensure that any performance can be carried out safely. From our perspective, a comprehensive safety plan is essential to ensuring future performances of “The Prom” can occur within a culture that supports all of our students while providing safety for all students and staff.

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6-year-old boy killed, his mother stabbed in anti-Muslim hate crime

Detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim



Wadea Al-Fayoume, 6, a Palestinian-American boy was stabbed to death Saturday in an attack local law enforcement said targeted him and his mother for being Muslim and as a result of the Hamas-Israel conflict. (Photo Credit: Family photo/CAIR-Chicago)

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, IL. – Responding Will County Sheriff’s Office deputies stumbled onto a horrific crime scene Saturday morning. A spokesperson for the Sheriff said that upon arrival at a house located near the 16200 block of S. Lincoln Highway in unincorporated Plainfield Township, they found a 71-year-old white male outside the residence and two more victims inside.

The call had gone out regarding a stabbing that occurred involving a landlord and renter. The suspect, Joseph M. Czuba (age 71) of Plainfield was sitting upright outside on the ground near the driveway of the residence. Czuba had a laceration to his forehead and was later transported to a local area hospital for treatment.

Deputies also located two victims inside the residence in a bedroom. Both victims had multiple stab wounds to their chest, torso, and upper extremities. Both victims were transported to a local area hospital for treatment. The thirty-two-year-old female was transported in serious condition and had over a dozen stab wounds to her body. The female victim is recovering from her injuries at a local area hospital and is expected to survive this brutal attack.

The juvenile victim was a six-year-old boy. He was transported to the hospital in critical condition. The boy later succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased by a doctor. On Sunday 10/15/2023, an autopsy was conducted on the six-year-old victim.

According to the Will County Coroner’s Office, the medical examiner-forensic pathologist conducting the autopsy removed the knife from the abdomen of the boy at that time. The boy was stabbed twenty-six times throughout his body. The knife used in this attack is a twelve-inch serrated military style knife that has a seven-inch blade.

The suspect, Czuba, was treated and released from a local area hospital and was transported to the Will County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Complex for questioning by detectives. He did not make any statements to detectives regarding his involvement in this heinous attack. Despite the suspect not providing a statement, detectives were able to gather enough information through interviews and evidence to formally charge him with numerous criminal offenses.

Joseph M. Czuba was charged with First Degree Murder, Attempted First Degree Murder, Hate Crime (2 counts), and Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon.

Mugshot of Joseph M. Czuba courtesy of the Will County Sheriff’s Office

Detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the on-going Middle Eastern conflict involving the terrorist group Hamas and the Israelis

In a press release issued by the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), the mother, Hanaan Shahin, and her son Wadea Al-Fayoume had lived on the ground floor of the house for two years with no previous notable issues with the landlord, 71-year-old Joseph Czuba.   

According to written text messages reportedly sent to the father of the boy by the mother from the hospital and shared with CAIR-Chicago, the landlord who had been angry with what he was seeing in the news knocked on their door, and when she opened, he tried to choke her and proceeded to attack her with a knife, yelling “you Muslims must die!”    When she ran into the bathroom to call 911, she came out to find that he had stabbed her six-year-old son to death. (Previous media stories erroneously reported that he is eight). “It all happened in seconds,” she texted.   

“Our hearts are heavy, and our prayers are with the darling boy and his mother,” said Ahmed Rehab, CAIR-Chicago Executive Director. “As we await the official investigation of the local authorities, what we can confirm at the moment is that we have a murdered child in his own home, a six-year who had just celebrated his birthday a couple of weeks ago, and a mother lying in the hospital in serious condition, both stabbed over a dozen times. And we have testimony from the mother as to the harrowing moments that unfolded in terms of what was done and said – and it is our worst nightmare.  We have full confidence in the authorities to investigate this heinous incident as a hate crime and to do so swiftly.” 

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker released a statement condemning the murder:

The White House on Sunday released a statement from President Joe Biden in response to the attack:

“Jill and I were shocked and sickened to learn of the brutal murder of a six-year-old child and the attempted murder of the child’s mother in their home yesterday in Illinois. The child’s Palestinian Muslim family came to America seeking what we all seek—a refuge to live, learn, and pray in peace. 
This horrific act of hate has no place in America, and stands against our fundamental values: freedom from fear for how we pray, what we believe, and who we are.  
As Americans, we must come together and reject Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and hatred.  I have said repeatedly that I will not be silent in the face of hate.  We must be unequivocal. There is no place in America for hate against anyone.
We join everyone here at the White House in sending our condolences and prayers to the family, including for the mother’s recovery, and to the broader Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim American communities.”

The Oct. 7 attack by the terrorist group Hamas against Israel in Gaza has created a highly charged political atmosphere across the globe and here in the United States, as pro-Israeli and Pro-Palestinian demonstrations and rallies take place, as various factions weigh in on the mounting carnage and crisis as Israel and the terrorist group continue to engage in combat operations inside Gaza.

In the conflict thus far, 1,300 Israelis, mostly civilians, have been killed and Israeli officials believe as many as 150 hostages have been taken by Hamas.  U.S. officials have said that 30 U.S. citizens were also killed. As Israel intensifies its operations in the Gaza Strip, 2,000 Palestinians have been killed.


Reports of antisemitic incidents in U.S. spike after attack on Israel, Anti-Defamation League says:

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Libs Of TikTok post instigates another round of bomb threats

An all too familiar occurrence an elementary school evacuated for bomb threats after being targeted by Libs of TikTok for a pride flag



EIM/Los Angeles Blade graphic

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – A Highland Park, Illinois, elementary school evacuated its premises and relocated its young students for two consecutive days following bomb threats. This alarming incident came on the heels of the controversial anti-LGBTQ+ account, Libs of TikTok, overseen by Chaya Raichik, showcasing an image of a classroom in the school adorned with a pride flag.

Notably, extremism researchers have previously associated the Libs of TikTok account with real-world violent threats potentially incited by posts to the account. As more schools and businesses face hostility simply for displaying a Pride flag, LGBTQ+ advocates and allies are left questioning why online social media platforms continue to tolerate such virulent hate content.

The Libs of TikTok account is run by Chaya Raichik, who maintained anonymity until December of 2022. In an interview with Tucker Carlson, which she deemed a “face reveal,” she revealed that Governor DeSantis offered her to stay in the Governor’s Mansion guesthouse in order to “provide her safety.” Her account has regularly posted the names of hospitals, schools, and businesses that have LGBTQ+ inclusive initiatives, pride flags, or show support for LGBTQ+ students in any other number of ways.

Such a post was made on September 15 by the account of the interior of a classroom at a Highland Park elementary school which featured a pride flag and general rainbow theme. Her post asked, “Why would an elementary school have a massive progress pride flag hanging above students heads all day?” to which her respondents replied by calling the teacher a groomer and pedophile.

Here is a picture of the post, seen by 584,000 people on Twitter:

Within days, the school began to receive bomb threats, closing it down. Elementary students were evacuated to a nearby location. A message posted to the Highland Park, Illinois Facebook page noted that multiple schools delayed the start of their school days and that further updates would be provided to students. Notably, Highland Park is also the location of a recent mass shooting in 2022.

Message posted to Highland Park Facebook Page, as retrieved by @aridrennen

Raichik has a long history of targeting a location and that location then being the recipient of violent threats. Shortly after her tweets against Boston Children’s Hospital, the hospital began receiving a series of bomb threats, partially shutting it down at times.

In Kiel, Wisconsin, after the account posted tweets targeting a school district there, multiple replies called for violence against the district. The district was then paralyzed for over a month by bomb threats. Similar examples could be seen in Pittsburgh Children’s HospitalDoernbecher Children’s HospitalPhoenix Children’s Hospital, and more.

All in all, the account has been linked to potentially inciting 66 separate threat events, most of which occurred within 5 days of her tweets as of December of 2022.

Anti-LGBTQ+ violent threats have become increasingly frequent in recent months. In California, a shop owner was killed for flying a Pride flag – the account followed and interacted with several anti-LGBTQ+ influencer accounts online.

In Texas, a church that hosted a drag event was firebombed after an anti-LGBTQ+ youtuber visited. In a report released in June, GLAAD had identified 350 anti-LGBTQ+ hate and extremism events across the United States.

Many organizations have called for social media platforms to do better at curtailing hate content. GLAAD’s Social Media Safety Index this year, for instance, reported that all give major platforms were failing at restricting anti-LGBTQ+ hate content, with Twitter scoring the worst. The platform notably dropped protections for transgender people from its harassment policy earlier this year.

Without significant reforms, accounts such as Libs of TikTok are poised to persist in disseminating hate content, ultimately translating to tangible harassment and violence. In just the past week, this account has set its sights on several more schools and libraries for their support of transgender youth, pride displays, and other LGBTQ+-positive measures.

Ironically, these institutions will likely find themselves ramping up security measures to safeguard their students from accounts that purport to act “to protect kids” from LGBTQ+ people.


Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here:


The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Chicago area LGBTQ+ friendly bakery closing after hate campaign

“Closing our doors is the direct result of the horrific attacks, endless harassment, and unrelenting negative misinformation”



UpRising Bakery and Café in better times (UpRising Bakery and Café/Facebook)

LAKE IN THE HILLS, Il – The owner of UpRising Bakery and Café announced this week on social media that she is permanently closing the doors to her bakery after months of anti-LGBTQ+ stochastic terrorism that had already resulted in a hate crime last July after hosting drag show events and has continued unabated.

Corinna Sac, who opened the bakery in 2021, told media outlets that her shop has drawn criticism from local Proud Boys and other anti-LGBTQ+ groups, has been vandalized and her staff and customers have been harassed.

Sac noted that in recent months after the July incident the online hate-filled harassment and bullying campaign has dramatically increased. In a statement released by her on the shop’s social media accounts, Sac wrote: “Closing our doors is the direct result of the horrific attacks, endless harassment, and unrelenting negative misinformation about our establishment in the last eight months. From an award-winning bakery that donates to local organizations and supports diversity and inclusion, we have been rebranded by misinformation as ‘gay only’ and ‘pedophiles.’”

Days after 24-year-old Joseph I. Collins, a local member of the Proud Boys was charged with a hate crime on July 24 for allegedly smashing the establishment’s windows and spray-painting hateful messages on the building, the village of Lake in the Hills issued a letter prohibiting UpRising from hosting drag events in the future.

An Illinois police officer told The Los Angeles Blade he suspects conservative officials in Lake in the Hills, frustrated by the controversy over UpRising’s drag brunch, decided to enforce an ordinance that had not been enforced in the past. Should they choose to do so selectively, allowing some businesses to host events but not others, he said the scepter of a lawsuit becomes likelier. 

Sac noted that the dramatic decrease in sales as a result of the continued harassment which also included protestors and demonstrations at the store as well as the online harassment campaign.

In an interview with local journalist Amie Schaenzer, Sac says that she and her family have been doxxed to include her tax documents posted online and others have slammed her regarding her children, who are 8 and 10 years old, receiving free lunches at school through a state program, which is based on income.

“This has all become increasingly worrisome for us,” Sac said. “My kids are not OK with it, they are extremely anxious, they are very scared at home, and it’s very stressful for my whole family.”

That combined with struggling to keep her business afloat and pay thousand in state taxes led to her announcement this past week to close she told Schaenzer adding that she originally set a March 31 closing date.

UpRising Bakery and Café/Facebook

David Goldenberg, an attorney with the Anti-Defamation League, set-up a GoFundMe campaign to help keep the bakery open.

Goldberg wrote: “Sadly, UpRising Bakery is now at risk of closing at the end of March 2023 due to financial challenges brought on after weathering last year’s attacks from bigots. People will lose their jobs and those of us who believe in tolerance and love will lose a safe space. We cannot allow the haters to win.

Join me in supporting this incredible small business and team of employees – and ensure the UpRising Bakery stays open for years to come.” As of Saturday, March 25, the campaign has raised $43,056.

But Sac told Schaenzer she’s unsure if the funds will be enough for her to stay in business.

“We were very resolute in our decision to close,” said Sac, adding that she’s now in discussions with her team whether to try and stay open. “It means a lot to us that the community did stand up for us and for the fundraiser. Especially considering everything that’s been happening here, so, that has been amazing. But we just don’t know if we can make it work.”

She said she plans to decide in coming days if she will accept the GoFundMe funds in order to keep UpRising Bakery and Café open.

“We don’t know what we are going to do, yet we are discussing that as a team over the next two days together, and we will make a collective decision,” she said Thursday.

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Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot loses re-election bid

Chicago’s first Black woman & first openly gay mayor failed to get enough votes Tuesday to advance to an April 4 runoff election



Mayor Lightfoot and 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman speaking with reporters Monday (Photo Credit: Office of the Mayor of Chicago)

CHICAGO – Embattled Democratic mayor Lori Lightfoot became the first city chief executive in four decades to lose a bid for reelection. Lightfoot’s term in office has been plagued by persistent crime in the city including a high murder rate and unceasing gun violence.

The Associated Press projections in the 9 person race showed the incumbent mayor failing to secure enough votes to move on to an April 4 runoff election.

NBC News reported that Paul Vallas, a former CEO of Chicago schools, will face Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union.

NBC noted that Lightfoot’s unfavorable ratings have soared with Chicagoans fed up with gun violence, as well as carjackings and robberies. And despite being the sitting mayor, she routinely failed to lead in recent polling, falling behind Vallas.

On the issue of crime, under Lightfoot, Chicago in 2021 reached the highest number of killings in a quarter century, with 797, and more than 3,500 shootings — which was 1,400 more shooting incidents than were recorded in 2019, when Lightfoot first took office.

Lightfoot became the first out lesbian, black woman elected Chicago mayor four years ago claiming more than 70 percent of the vote. Lightfoot’s election made Chicago the largest city in the United States with an openly gay mayor.

During an exclusive interview with Washington Blade journalist Michael Lavers after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade this past June, Lightfoot said in response to a question about how she feels about being the first Black lesbian mayor of a major U.S. city that there are now “so many more of us who are living our authentic lives.”

She added that she “didn’t see any role models that looked like me” and “didn’t see a lot of gay and lesbian leaders on a national level or even at the local level” when she was younger.

“One of the greatest gifts that we can give is to say to those young people, you’re going to be great,” she said. “Be who you are, embrace, embrace your authentic life. Because there’s always going to be a home for you. There’s going to be a village, a community that’s going to be supportive. That’s one of the things I think the most powerful statement that I can make as mayor, using my platform as mayor of the third largest city, to say to our young people, you’re always going to have a home here.”

Lightfoot lives in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood with her wife, Amy Eshleman, and their daughter.

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Homophobe with hammer attacks LGBTQ owned bar in Chicago

“Hate has no home here, & we’re not afraid. We love our neighborhood. We work with local police, locally elected officials. We feel safe”



R Public House/Twitter

CHICAGO – A man wielding a hammer and shouting homophobic slurs at customers smashed a glass entrance door to the LGBTQ owned R Public House, located 1508 W Jarvis Ave in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, Monday night.

The R [pronounced ‘our’] Public House is a community-driven bar and grill that welcomes everyone and as an anchor business in the neighborhood has established a reputation for providing goodwill for the diverse and queer friendly population of Rogers Park.

WLS-TV ABC News 7 reported the incident started during happy hour, about 5:40 p.m. Monday afternoon, when an unknown masked man approached a man and a woman as they were getting out of their car near the bar & grill.

A Chicago police spokesperson said that the masked suspect then began yelling homophobic slurs and threatening them before walking away and shortly returning to follow them into the bar. Corey Rolon, an employee of R Public House, told WLS ABC 7: “He walked in, started calling them some like anti-gay slurs, and they were like, ‘just leave, man – just get out of here,’ and then he took out a hammer and started bashing everything.”

Renee Labrana and Sandra Carter, the lesbian couple who have owned R Public House for a decade spoke to multiple media outlets about the incident.

“It’s very frustrating and disconcerting because we live in this neighborhood because it’s so diverse, and we love that about the neighborhood,” Labrana said. “So you tend to forget that there’s people that hate you out there just for who you love. And it makes me really angry that we even have to think about it.”

Carter said the incident was jarring for patrons, some of whom were left running out the back door with the manager as the man started shattering the window.

“They weren’t sure if it was gunshots,” she said. “And knowing the horrific hate crimes that have happened in different bars, it was scary.”

“It hits you in the pit of your stomach. It really does. And these things shouldn’t matter. Love is love. I don’t know how many other ways we can say that,” Labrana said.

The pair said the community is already rallying around them, and that love is stronger than hate.

“Hate has no home here, and we’re not afraid. We love our neighborhood. We work with local police, locally elected government officials. We feel safe,” Carter said.

No arrests have been made in the case. Local NBC News owned WMAQ-TV  NBC 5 noted:

The Chicago Police Department reported 177 hate crimes last year, by far the most in at least 11 years, according to city records. The Rogers Park police district has recorded the second-most hate crimes over that period, and anti-LBGTQ incidents have been the most common citywide.

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ACLU sent letters rejecting lawsuit threats by anti-LGBTQ group

Awake Illinois has repeatedly used hostile epithets against those they disagree with, labeling them “groomers,” “hateful,” and “perverts”



Awake Illinois advert soliciting for new members (Screenshot/YouTube)

CHICAGO – The ACLU of Illinois has authored letters to a homophobic and transphobic group that threatened two residents, who have posted online their opposition to the organization and its anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, with defamation lawsuits.

Maggie Romanovich of Wheaton and Kylie Spahn of Downers Grove received letters from leaders of Awake Illinois in early September suggesting that Awake would file a defamation lawsuit against them if they did not “cease and desist” from such criticism and remove existing online posts. 

The anti-LGBTQ+ far-right extremist group has urged removal of LGBTQ inclusive books and cancellation of drag events in the suburbs. The group and it’s members consistently use harsh and offensive language against others to advance their interests, and now are trying to suppress their critics.

Awake Illinois officials have repeatedly used hostile epithets against those they disagree with, labeling them “groomers,” “hateful,” and “perverts.” Yet in the instance of the letters to Romanovich and Spahn, the ACLU of Illinois says Awake seeks to curb the speech of others. 

The ACLU of Illinois letters to Awake Illinois on behalf of Romanovich and Spahn reject the threatened lawsuits as groundless, noting that all of the material cited by Awake Illinois is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

“These letters from Awake Illinois are empty threats with zero legal basis,” said Rebecca Glenberg, senior supervising attorney at the ACLU of Illinois who signed the letters. “Awake Illinois and its members consistently use harsh and often offensive language directed against others to advance their interests, but now feign injury when our clients express strong feelings against them.”

“If they think these letters will stop our clients or others from speaking out against what they see as a dangerous agenda, they are wrong.” 

Awake Illinois’ letter to Romanovich referred to her letter to the editor printed in the Daily Herald, which criticized a congressional candidate for his connection to Awake Illinois, opining that the group is appalling, extremist, homophobic, racially insensitive and otherwise objectionable.  Such opinions are constitutionally protected and cannot be the basis of a defamation lawsuit, the ACLU of Illinois wrote. 

The action comes shortly after a Member of Congress revealed that he had received a similar “cease and desist” letter from Awake Illinois. In mid-September, the Chicago Tribune reported that Awake Illinois sent the letter to Representative Sean Casten, a vocal critic of the group.  Like Romanovich and Spahn, Casten rejected the group’s threats of a lawsuit. 

“Our Constitution allows groups like Awake Illinois to express their views in the public square like anyone else. But they may not use the courts to suppress the views of others,” Glenberg noted. 

You can read the letters to Awake Illinois on behalf of Romanovich and Spahn here and here.

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Chicago area bakery after hate crime prohibited from hosting events

Lake in the Hills had created “a victory for hateful, anti-LGBTQ+ voices who attacked the owner and bakery after coverage of the drag brunch”



UpRising Bakery and Café/Facebook

LAKE IN THE HILLS, Il – “Our hands are being tied and our backs are being forced up against the wall by our landlord and the village of Lake in the Hills,” said Corrina Sac, owner of UpRising Bakery and Café, in an emotional video she shared on Facebook.

Just days after a man was charged with a hate crime for allegedly smashing the establishment’s windows and spray-painting hateful messages on the building, which was targeted over its plans to host a family-friendly drag brunch on 23 July, Sac said the town issued a letter prohibiting UpRising from hosting events in the future. 

“Unfortunately, when the attention waned from all the hate, they shifted gears and started victim blaming me after we were attacked by a known domestic terrorist who committed hate crimes against us just one week ago,” Sac said. 

She said that the letter, which came after a “very threatening meeting,” warned that law enforcement actions will be pursued – up to and including the potential revocation of business and liquor licenses – if Lake in the Hills becomes aware of any entertainment events advertised or hosted by UpRising. 

UpRising Bakery and Café/Facebook

Sac said that despite hosting events “pretty much since the day we opened,” it was during this meeting that she was first informed of the zoning ordinances and told there was concern over the public resources required to protect her business. 

An Illinois police officer told The Los Angeles Blade he suspects conservative officials in Lake in the Hills, frustrated by the controversy over UpRising’s drag brunch, decided to enforce an ordinance that had not been enforced in the past. Should they choose to do so selectively, allowing some businesses to host events but not others, he said the scepter of a lawsuit becomes likelier. 

According to NBC’s Chicago affiliate, the ACLU of Illinois vowed to defend Sac, saying Lake in the Hills had created “a victory for hateful, anti-LGBTQ+ voices who attacked the owner and bakery after coverage of the drag brunch.”

In her video, Sac said UpRising’s events have always been safe and family friendly – ways by which the business can “bridge the gap in our daily sales to make sure we can pay our rent, taxes, and employees.”

UpRising Bakery and Café/Facebook

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) condemned the hate crime in comments to The Los Angeles Blade last week. A spokesperson for Pritzker did not immediately return a request for comment on the village’s subsequent issuance of the letter to UpRising.

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Illinois man vandalizing bakery charged with anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime

There had been a family-friendly drag show for all ages scheduled for later on Saturday, but UpRising Bakery & Cafe cancelled the event



Courtesy of the Lake-in-the-Hills Police Department

LAKE-IN-THE-HILLS, Il. – A 24-year-old Illinois man remains in police custody after he was arrested vandalizing the UpRising Bakery in this Northwestern village in suburban Chicago early Saturday morning.

According to a spokesperson for the Lake-in-the-Hills police,  an Algonquin police sergeant from the adjacent jurisdiction saw the suspect identified as Joseph I. Collins flee from the crime scene on foot and he was arrested by responding officers at around 12:05AM Saturday morning.

Booking photo of suspect, Joseph I. Collins, via Lake-in-the-Hills Police Department

ABC affiliate WLS-TV 7 Chicago reported that the bakery has been the target of anti-LGBTQ+ harassment and threats. There had been a family-friendly drag show for all ages that was scheduled for later on Saturday, but UpRising Bakery and Cafe owner Corinna Sac cancelled the event after the arrest.

Sac told WLS ABC 7 that she received numerous threats when the drag show was first announced.

“One morning I came in and there was a bag of feces outside. There was a letter taped to the door that said pedophiles work here,” Sac said, recounting just some of the hateful incidents of the past few weeks.

“Someone came in, did a perimeter walk around our cafe, commented on how disgusting and dirty it was, and then spit on our case,” she said recounting another incident.

The baker and mother of two was shocked by the hostility toward her and her business in person and online after she posted about a drag show event she planned to host there this weekend.

“To take a really fun time, like a drag show, and then make it more family-friendly to involve everyone and anyone,” she said.

Now, she told WLS that the Lake in the Hills Police became involved, investigating the threats and working closely with Sac amid potential protests from anti-LGBTQ+ groups this weekend.

“The department will be taking a zero-tolerance approach for those individuals who choose to attend with plans to engage in acts of violence or criminal activity,” police said.

“If this is the hill that we die on, I’m gonna die loud and proud because we’ve always fought and said equality for everyone,” Sac said.

When she still planned for the show to go on, Sac said any accusation of targeting children is completely false.

“We were not targeting kids. We were opening it up to families who felt like (the drag show) was OK for their kids,” she said.

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Exclusive: Chicago’s Out mayor describes Roe ruling as ‘gut punch’

Lori Lightfoot in 2019 became the first Black lesbian woman elected mayor of a major U.S. city, the nation’s third largest



Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (Photo courtesy of the Lori Lightfoot campaign)

CHICAGO – Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday said the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade was a “gut punch.”

“It wasn’t a surprise,” she told the Washington Blade during an exclusive interview. “This had been a 50-year quest for people who don’t want to recognize our rights and want to take us back to 1950s America, when our community was pushed very decidedly into the closet because we didn’t have protections — we certainly didn’t have marriage. That was inconceivable back then.”

“We didn’t have protections on employment, on housing and the basic rights of citizenship that we’ve come to really embrace and expect as Americans,” added Lightfoot.

Lightfoot in 2019 became the first Black lesbian woman elected mayor of a major U.S. city.

She noted Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurring opinion in the Roe decision said the Supreme Court should reconsider its decision in the Obergefell, Lawrence and Griswold cases that guarantee marriage equality and the rights to private, consensual sex and access to contraception respectively.

“Fuck Clarence Thomas,” said Lightfoot on Sunday when she spoke at Chicago Pride.

“I woke up yesterday morning feeling pretty sad for all the reasons that you would expect,” she told the Blade on Monday. “It was still inconceivable that we are now living in an America where all of us who have been empowered to teach and live our own authentic lives are now at risk in this country by the stroke of a pen and a radicalized right-wing majority on the court with seemingly little regard of the consequences.”

Lightfoot said the ruling’s “immediate impact” will be on women in “red states” and “states that have trigger laws” that ban abortion. Lightfoot added women of color and low-income women will be disproportionately impacted.

“You got to play the long game here,” she said. “Clarence Thomas clearly signaled what his intent is, which is when you talk about reconsidering Griswold, that’s the right to contraception access. They talk about reconsidering Lawrence in Texas. We know what that is. Well really, are gay men going to be in a position where they have to worry about cops breaking into their bedroom and try to haul them off to jail by engaging in a natural act of intimacy between consenting adults?”

“We are very much in the target, and the sights of this right-wing mob that feels like the only way that they can exercise their power is by taking ours,” added Lightfoot.

‘We’re going to respect your rights’

Lightfoot in May announced a “Justice for All Pledge” after Politico published a leaked draft of the Roe decision.

Her administration and the Chicago Department of Public Health pledged an additional $500,000 to “support access to reproductive healthcare for Chicagoans and patients seeking safe, legal care from neighboring states that have or ultimately will ban abortion if the Supreme Court decides to strike down Roe v. Wade, as outlined in the leaked decision.” The “Justice for All Pledge,” among other things, reaffirms Chicago will “fight for the rights of all people regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, age, religion, disability, national origin, ancestry, or sexual orientation.”  

“We will fight to ensure that no person will be attacked, assaulted, bullied, or discriminated against because of who they are, the choices they make regarding their bodily autonomy, or who they love,” reads the pledge.

“We have to be a beacon of light and hope across the country and particularly in the Midwest region,” said Lightfoot. 

She also encouraged LGBTQ people from Florida, Texas and other states that have passed homophobic and/or transphobic laws to consider moving to Chicago.

“We’re going to respect your rights,” said Lightfoot. “We’re going to allow you to live in an environment where you can live your true, authentic life without the worry of some radicalized right-wing legislature cutting off your rights. People have to start making choices.”

Lightfoot also challenged corporations to do more to support LGBTQ rights and their LGBTQ employees.

“Corporations have to start making choices,” she said. “All those nice little value statements on a corporate website, if you value your employees and their rights, you cannot be situated in states that are attacking everyone in our community.” 

“When you look at the fact that many of these states are attacking children and their families, that tells you there’s no floor, there’s no floor to which they will sink,” added Lightfoot. “It’s open season on us and we’ve got to respond.”

Mayor lacked role models ‘that looked like me’

Lightfoot lives in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood with her wife, Amy Eshleman, and their daughter.

She told the Blade that she met a transgender teenager from downstate Illinois during Chicago Pride. Lightfoot said she hugged her and her parents and she “just felt such joy.”

She said she “didn’t see any role models that looked like me” and “didn’t see a lot of gay and lesbian leaders on a national level or even at the local level” when she was younger. Lightfoot told the Blade in response to a question about how she feels about being the first Black lesbian mayor of a major U.S. city that there are now “so many more of us who are living our authentic lives.”

“One of the greatest gifts that we can give is to say to those young people, you’re going to be great,” she said. “Be who you are, embrace, embrace your authentic life. Because there’s always going to be a home for you. There’s going to be a village, a community that’s going to be supportive. That’s one of the things I think the most powerful statement that I can make as mayor, using my platform as mayor of the third largest city, to say to our young people, you’re always going to have a home here.”

Lightfoot earlier this month announced she is running for re-election in 2023.

Crime and the response to protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020 are among the issues over which Lightfoot has faced criticism.

She referenced efforts to make “real meaningful, permanent progress on public safety that we are doing here in our city against a lot of different headwinds” and economic development in low-income neighborhoods as two of her administration’s accomplishments. Lightfoot said she decided to run for a second term because “the work’s not done.”

“We have been through a lot, as every major city in the country has in these last three years, but we’ve persevered and continued to do really good work on behalf of the people and made a lot of progress,” she said. 

“I liken it to being a gardener,” added Lightfoot. “You till the soil, you plant the seeds, you want to be around to reap the harvest. And I want to make sure that the work that we put in place, that those roots are deep and strong and they continue to bear fruit for years and years to come, long after I fade from the scene.” 

Lesbian super PAC again endorses Lightfoot

LPAC endorsed Lightfoot’s initial mayoral campaign. The super PAC that supports lesbian candidates has once again backed her. 

“I am just grateful that they are ready to re-up for round two,” said Lightfoot.

“When we are present in those corridors of power, we bring a life of experience that is different than traditionally the straight white men that have populated these corridors of power,” she added. “We show up and we show up importantly for our community and that is critically important.”

LPAC Executive Director Lisa Turner in a statement to the Blade praised Lightfoot.

“When I think of the Black LGBTQ leaders serving in office like Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, I am filled with pride about the work LPAC has done to uplift women and support their campaigns,” said Turner. “We were the first national organization and LGBTQ organization to endorse Mayor Lightfoot in 2019, and we are proud to be the first again as she seeks re-election. LPAC’s unwavering support shows our commitment to not solely electing more LGBTQ women to office, but to elect LGBTQ women who represent the full diversity of our community.”

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