Chicago community organization offering queer history paid internship program

CHICAGO (WLS) -- When Gage Park Latinx Council Executive Director Antonio Santos was a high school student, he wished there was a program to learn more about LGBTQIA+ history.

"Growing up in Gage Park, for many years I felt like I was the only queer person in my community, which is just simply not true," Santos said.

Now, he runs the Queer Riot Internship program with the GPLXC, a grassroots organization that provides community resources and programming for Gage Park residents.

To offer the internship program, the council partnered with Queer Riot, a Chicago-based educational group that offers workshops on the history of LGBTQIA+ people.

"There are very few spaces for LGBTQIA+ youth on the South and West sides of Chicago for particular people of color," Santos said. "And I know that these spaces are important in order to build community."

Interns have the opportunity to learn about LGBTQIA+ history and activism through the perspectives of queer, trans, Black, Indigenous and people of color while organizing alongside GPLXC members.

"The name Queer Riot was very intentional," Santos said. "We knew both of those words can be divisive but LGBTQIA+ history has always been divisive. There are people who believe young people shouldn't be learning about gay history."

Queer Riot is a paid internship open to high school students. The first cohort began in April and will wrap up in June.

"Queer history altogether has been erased and kept out of the public sphere. But the few accounts that we do get tend to be centered around whiteness so it was really important for us to de-center that," Santos said.

The GPLXC flies the Pride flag all year long. Santos said he wants to empower young people to take pride in who they are and to use their voices to make a difference in their communities.

"We believe in changing people's minds and hearts with our actions and not necessarily about debating people about our right to exist," he said.

GPLXC is currently accepting applications for its next cohort, which starts in August.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.