Simmons Pride Conference


CHICAGO –State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) along with other elected officials, community activists, business leaders and nonprofit executives held a press conference today in Rogers Park to reflect on the value of Pride Month and offer their thoughts on the state of LGBTQ+ progress in the wake of the Supreme Court case overturning Roe v. Wade

“The LGBTQ community is resplendent and beautiful in its diversity. As the first openly LGBTQ person to serve in the Illinois Senate, I took great pride in convening so many people from across our large community to reflect on Pride and offer their own unique thoughts on the moment we’re living in,” Simmons said. “It was a healing space for so many. It was humbling for me to be in community with so many leaders I respect deeply.” 

"This Pride Month has been a veritable roller coaster of emotions. The highs of parades and parties and reconnecting with friends were often overwhelmed by the lows of historic attacks on our rights,” State Rep. Kelly Cassidy said. “Coming together in community yesterday was a lovely way to acknowledge the complexities of our present and a reminder that there is joy in fighting for liberation."

“It is incredibly important for the community to gather and reflect on why we celebrate pride. Sharing stories and experiences only promotes understanding and compassion,” Paul Ruffino of Rattleback Records in Andersonville said. “It was an honor to participate in Senator Simmons Pride Month Reflection today and I thank him for organizing it.”

Held at Gerber/Hart Library & Archives in Rogers Park, the press conference featured over a dozen LGBTQ+ leaders, activists, and artists as they shared their thoughts, highlights and concerns about the road ahead in the LGBTQ+ community. Coming together in this space alongside Senator Simmons, community figures reflected on the necessity for joy and happiness in political action even in the face of major grief and opposition. 

“Pride Month invites us to celebrate our unique culture, assess our progress toward LGBTQ+ liberation, and recommit ourselves to a just, peaceful, and inclusive world,” David Ernesto Munar, president and CEO of Howard Brown Health said. “We won't get there without a fight -- one as inspirational and determined as the Stonewall riots of 1969 that mobilized the movement." 

“Protest must be rooted in joy. Social movements are always driven by the people and rooted in joy and struggle. The LGBTQ community has given the world so much in the way of joyful protest,” Simmons said. “As we continue to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community, I will be thinking of the LGBTQ teenagers out there who deserve a better, more affirming society and I will do this work with joy.” 

While many speakers talked about celebration as a part of Pride, several speakers also reflected on the recent Supreme Court case which overturned Roe v. Wade and the subsequent opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas, which signaled the court’s intention to review and possibly roll back critical LGBTQ rights. Everyone spoke to the necessity of fighting proactively to keep hard won rights. 

“With the Supreme Court planning to roll back LGBTQ rights and state legislatures across our country taking aim at Trans students, it’s never been more important for allies to show up,” 47th Ward Alderman Matt Martin said. “That means listening to the lived experiences of our LGBTQ siblings, acknowledging that our country is falling backwards in multiple ways, and fighting alongside queer organizers. I’m committed to doing just that in the 47th Ward and beyond.”

"LGBTQ people, especially trans people, are under more focused and vicious attack right now than any time in recent memory," says Stephanie Skora, COO of Brave Space Alliance, the South Side LGBTQ Center. "But that doesn't mean that we're giving up, or running from the fight. As a Jewish woman, from a family that came to Chicago in the 1880s fleeing pogroms in the Pale of Settlement, I know that in the struggle for human rights, dignity, and liberation, we often find roots to our history, paths to our future, and connections to our community. And community is what makes us strong." 

PHOTO: State Senator Mike Simmons among other elected leaders, activists, artists, and business owners at his 2nd annual pride reflection conference