I have been a supporter of LGBT rights and an advocate of LGBT rights from very early on. In the early 90s my husband and I were sponsoring LGBT student groups to talk to other students in residence halls, but even before that, I grew up in Hong Kong. This is one of the things that I emphasize quite a bit throughout the campaign trail—that I did not grow up in the U.S, so I don’t take a lot of rights and the liberties we have in the US for granted, because in a lot of the other countries, you don’t have that. In Hong Kong there is nondiscrimination for the LGBT community, but there isn’t very strict enforcement of nondiscrimination and to be sure that people are able to have equal opportunities in employment and education and housing. Growing up in that environment and coming to the US in the 80s, when the AIDS crisis was going on and LGBT issues were just coming to the forefront, I had high school friends that joined the early LGBT movement. I have a very close high school friend who dropped out of college to be a leader in ACT-UP. So this is a long history.
More recently among my own children there are LGBT kids. I’ve also been working with the Chicago Gay Men’s chorus for this past year as the acting executive director, helping them with the strategic plan. A lot of it, helping a historical organization like that that has significant impact on the LGBT life in Chicago, makes you realize how important history is because current chorus members are not as much connected with that history from the 80s and 90s.
I think there’s a lot of misconception from the outside world, particularly from the non LGBT community, you know, now that there’s marriage equality, and now that there are less overt discrimination in some circles, that there’s no need for groups like Chicago’s Gay Men’s Chorus to continue to do what they do anymore, and that’s absolutely not true. It’s such a fragile balance, and there’s so many issues, particularly since the last election, that have come to the fore. There’s still not equality; for the trans community it’s definitely still not equal. There’s still a lot of battles that still need to be fought.