Pride Month, Beyond the Parade

Hale ThompsonBy Hale Thompson, PhD

As Pride Month kicks off in Chicago, many of us look forward to the Pride Parade in Lakeview, the Dyke March in Little Village, and numerous other performances and parties celebrating the achievements of the LGBTQ movement with friends and family.

As is tradition, Rush University Medical Center will have a contingent in the Chicago Pride Parade. And this year, both the LGBTQ Leadership Council of Rush’s Diversity Leadership Council plus faculty, students, and staff in the Medical College have embarked on several LGBTQ and gender-affirming medical education and care initiatives.

‘Say Our Names’

One of these initiatives includes an art exhibit, “Say Our Names,” by artist and film director Lilly Wachowski. “Say Our Names” is on display in the corridor of the Searle Conference Center at Rush through July 8. This is the first time the exhibit has been shown in a large, academic medical center. The goal is to raise awareness across Rush that, despite many important legal, political, and cultural gains over the last 15 years, transgender people continue to struggle for survival and access to basic resources such as health care.

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Orlando, Pride and the Healing Force of Love

clayton-thomason-prideRush University Medical Center celebrated LGBT Pride Month — and reflected on the recent mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida — during a reception on June 28. The Rev. Clayton Thomason, JD, MD, chairperson of the Department of Health, Religion and Human Values, began the gathering with this reflection about brokenness and healing.

The Stonewall Riots took place 47 years ago on June 28, giving rise to the modern LGBTQ movement. It’s why June is Pride Month. That movement led one year ago to the Supreme Court’s recognition of marriage equality, and on June 24, President Obama declared the site of the riots, the Stonewall Inn in the West Village of Manhattan, a National Monument.

That movement and its accomplishments, including Rush’s own LGBTQ accomplishments, are what we should be celebrating. But on June 12, pride was interrupted by tragedy, by grief.

There have been many responses in the weeks since the lives of 49 people were taken and 53 more were left injured and bleeding in the Pulse Nightclub. Some responses have been predictable, because — unfortunately — by now in our national life, they are all too familiar.

Stephen Colbert observed on the Late Show, “It’s as if there’s a national script that we have learned. And I think by accepting the script we tacitly accept that the script will end the same way every time. With nothing changing.”

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