Something Like A Super Lesbian: Vernita Gray (In Memoriam)

CT met-Vernita-Gray-gay-marriage-01.JPGVernita Gray, a Chicago icon and the gay rights activist who wed her partner in Illinois’ first same-sex marriage, has died at age 65.

According the Associated Press, Gray died late Tuesday of cancer at the same Chicago home where she married Patricia Ewert in late November. She was surrounded by family and friends when she died.

Vernita was an “active” activist totally immersing herself in the attempt to help others.  Shortly after coming out in the late 1960s, she helped develop a telephone hotline, and started organizing support groups for the Chicago LGBT community  at both local colleges and in her own home.

vernitagray2With her help Chicago created its first lesbian newspaper, Lavender Woman (1971-1976) and she also formed the lesbian caucus of Gay Liberation. Even while battling her own illness, she was a nearly constant presence at most LGBT marches and rallies in Chicago for decades.

“Vernita Gray was an inspiration to all who crossed her path, from President (Barack) Obama, who knew her by name, to the victims of violence she comforted and the young people for whom she was a fierce advocate. Her legacy can be felt in the many institutions she supported and by every LGBT couple in Illinois who is now free to marry the person they love.” – Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Vernita, you might not have been a super lesbian but thank you for the boldness in your advocacy and the impact your conviction has left on others.


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