Illinois’ LGBTQ Chamber opens “downstate” office
SPRINGFIELD – Aiming to expand “advocacy, services, professional development, and products throughout the state and northwest Indiana,” the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois is adding a “downstate” Springfield office to its Chicago headquarters, reports Windy City Times. The Springfield office, at 920 S. Spring Rd., is a pivotal step forward for a group whose roots began with 80 Chicago-area LGBT-owned or -friendly businesses. Founded in 1995 by Windy City Times co-founder Tracy Baum and Chicago-area activist Kevin Boyer, the LGBT Chamber now has 350 members. You can learn more about the nonprofit at its website, https://lgbtcc.com/
Carbondale’s Rainbow Cafe moves Art Auction reception to Feb. 13
CARBONDALE – Hoping to wait out a flurry of COVID infection in southern Illinois, Rainbow Cafe has moved its “Framed For Love” reception at the Varsity Center to Feb. 13. Masks will be required for the event, which will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. The show’s 37 pieces, created by 22 different artists, will help raise money for Rainbow Cafe’s expansion from its two-room strip mall location. The group hosts support groups for LGBTQ people of all ages, from youth to seniors. Anyone can bid on the pieces at this link;
Body cameras for East St. Louis, Alton police funded with grant
ALTON — The police departments of East St. Louis and Alton in southern Illinois have each received $225,000 grants from the U.S. Dept. of Justice to fund body cameras, reports the St. Louis American. will help equip officers there with body cameras, reports the St. Louis American. Body cameras will be provided to officers that have regular contact with the public, including patrol officers, SWAT team members, traffic safety officers, and MetroLink officers. The American reports that all Illinois police departments will be required to have body cameras by 2025.
COVID raging through Illinois prison system
ILLINOIS — With more than 4,400 prisoners and staff infected with COVID as of mid-January, Illinois’ state prison system is reeling with the omicron variant’s impact, reports the Effingham Daily News. The system reported only 160 infections in December but has struggled to control the virus amid a battle to get workers vaccinated, the paper reports. A mandate by Gov. J.B. Pritzker that weathered a court challenge requires vaccination by today.
Equality Illinois ups COVID prevention measures for Feb. 5 Gala
CHICAGO– A negative COVID test will be required of everyone attending Equality Illinois’ big annual gala, coming up Feb. 5 at the Chicago Hilton. The statewide nonprofit decided to heighten COVID protocols in response to the fast-spreading omicron variant. The annual gala helps fund Equality Illinois’ outreach on behalf of LGBTQ Illinoisans. In addition to the in-person reception and awards, the Feb. 5 gala will feature a silent auction. For more information, see the website.
The Project of the Quad Cities kicks in “Village” campaign
Classes in pronouns, gender and “safe zones” are part of a new education initiative by The Project of the Quad Cities. “The Village” is TPQC’s new effort to create queer-friendly places throughout the Quad Cities. All of the courses will be taught by queer people, TPQC announced in its press release. For more information about the program, see the website.
Transgender inmate denied request for gender transition surgery
A transgender federal prisoner who first filed suit in Marion, Ill., seeking the federal government’s approval of gender transition surgery has been denied her request, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Cristina Nichole Iglesias, 47, filed her suit while in detention in Marion, Ill., in 2019, where she was serving time for threats with a weapon of mass destruction, the Sun-Times reports. Her suit contends she has sought to live as a female for more than 35 years. The federal Department of Corrections did not comment on the case other than a general statement about improved care for all inmates.
Illinois train/bus hub to feature Black history murals
SPRINGFIELD — Two new murals at a new multi-transportation hub in Illinois’ state capitol will offer a “history lesson” on Black Americans, reports the State Journal-Register. The murals will include depictions of former Presidents Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln; Eva Carroll Monroe, founder and operator of the Lincoln Colored Home in Springfield; civil rights advocate and journalist Ida B. Wells; and two other Black female historical figures.
Illinois State celebrates annual Pride Night Feb. 4
BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL — Illinois State University will host “Pride Night” Feb. 4 to raise money for LGBTQ student organizations and to celebrate diversity, reports Illinois State University News. The event will include giveaways of rainbow masks and Pride flag flyers and will raise money for ISU’s the LGBTQ+ Student Support Endowment, “which provides support for educational programming related to LGBTQ+ topics.” The special night takes place as part of the ISU women’s basketball team’s game against the Evansville Purple Aces, starting at 6 p.m. at Redbird Arena, 232 W. College Ave., Normal.