Mayor Lightfoot, Gov. Pritzker speak at Equality Illinois brunch: 'Here in Illinois, we say gay'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Equality Illinois' annual brunch kicked off Pride Month, bringing together both state and local officials, along with LGBTQ+ leaders in the community.

"Maybe in Florida, they don't say 'gay,' but here in Illinois, we say 'gay.' Cheers," said Gov. JB Pritzker.

It was both a celebration of pride and a community call to action.

"While I think it's great that you celebrate queerness and everything, my primary mission is to hold politician and judges accountable," said Alexis Martinez.

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Martinez has been an activist since the 1960s, coming out as a transgender woman at 14 years old. She said we still have work to do.

"There's all kinds of issues in the justice system, the mental health systems, our education systems," Martinez said. "All across the country, trans people are being attacked legislatively."

"We have never been more equal and affirmed in the state, and yet queer people are still having trouble accessing adequate healthcare, we are still more poor than our straight and cis gender allies, we are over-criminalized and too many of us are victims of violence," said Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot echoed those sentiments.

"It's not just about 'don't say gay,'" Lightfoot said. "It's about making sure that we don't take any steps backwards."

Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris was awarded the 2022 Community Pride Honors for his work throughout the past 16 years and his continued pursuit for better access to medicine, housing and most importantly, respect.

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"I think there's a lot of embarrassment and shame when it comes to talking about LGBTQ issues and we need to start destigmatizing," said Chicago Therapy Collective Executive Director Iggy Ladden.

Martinez offered some advice for people, especially parents.

"Walk in love," she said. "Love your children regardless of what their identity is. You may not understand them, you may not agree with them, but love them."
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