CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's Pride Parade is back after being canceled for two years because of the pandemic. But as we celebrate, we're also looking at the work that still needs to be done to ensure equity and access for LGBTQ+ people here in the city and across the country.
Brian C. Johnson is the CEO of Equality Illinois. He's been at the forefront of fighting for LGBTQ+ justice for years. Johnson recently said that "queer people have never been more equal and affirmed here in Illinois." But there's more work to be done.
"We are over criminalized," said Johnson. "We are three times more likely to be incarcerated than our peers who are non-LGBTQ+. We are less likely to have access to adequate and affirming healthcare. And we're more likely to earn low wages or be food insecure."
"The price of living in a democracy is you have to wake up every day and continue to fight for your rights and your freedoms. We see bills across the country where people are attacking young people for acknowledging their identity, or the identities of their families in school with 'Don't Say Gay' bills," Johnson said. "We see far-right anti-equality forces trying to attack families for trying to meet the healthcare needs of their trans young people. And we see an Equality Act which would enshrine nationally many of the protections that we have here in Illinois that's been stalled in the Senate for years."
So how important is the support of LGBTQ+ allies?
"We need our allies. In Illinois, about 500,000 people identify as LGBTQ+. So in order to build the movement that's going to demand our full equality, we need everybody who loves a queer person, who works with an LGBTQ+ person, who worships with or lives near someone who identifies as LGBTQ+ to stand up alongside of us, and to fight for our full justice," Johnson said.
Equality Illinois recently wrapped up a listening tour across the state.