Simmons PridePressConf2024CHICAGO – State Senator Mike Simmons, the first openly LGBTQ+ member of the Illinois State Senate, was joined by LGBTQ+ youth, community leaders, small business owners, activists and allies at a Pride Month press conference Tuesday.

“While growing up in a hostile society towards LGTBQ+ people, I at least vividly remember when I was a teenager freely accessing books about LGBTQ+ history in our libraries and even schools,” said Simmons (D-Chicago). “Today’s young people are having to fight for even this basic right to read, and it’s deeply upsetting. I am honored to share my platform as State Senator and give them the floor to host a first ever 7th District LGBTQ+ youth led panel where half a dozen young people will school us on their life experiences and what they dream of for their future as queer and LGBTQ+ people.”

“It is a tall honor to represent our resplendently diverse LGBTQ+ communities. Today’s press conference makes history as these youth take the mic and speak truth to power about what’s happening in their own communities and in our broader society and nation. I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this historic day and event. Thank you to each youth participant on today’s panel, as well as our audience of elected officials and staff, community leaders, activists, local and small business owners. And a huge and hearty thank you to the staff at Gerber/Hart Library & Archives for hosting our 4th Annual 7th District Pride Press Conference!”

The event was held in Chicago at the Gerber/Hart Library & Archives, the largest library and archives of LGBTQ+ books and media in the Midwest. Gerber/Hart Library is located in the 7th District in the Rogers Park neighborhood. In attendance were several elected officials, queer activists and organizers, local queer and allied small business owners, and LGBTQ+ youth from across the 7th District and beyond.

Also attending were Michael Crowley, CEO of Boys & Girls Club in Uptown, Anna DeShawn, queer radio host and Founder of E3 Radio, 40th Ward Alderperson Andre Vasquez, 49th Ward Alderwoman Maria Hadden, Paul Ruffino, LGBTQ+ small business co-owner of Rattleback Records, Sarah Wilson, executive director of Uptown Chamber of Commerce, and supportive staff from several local elected officials’ offices.

Simmons is known to aggressively push back against transphobic comments used in debate on the Senate floor. He has led the passage of numerous laws protecting LGBTQ+ communities, including a law that protects marriage equality and access to gender-affirming care in Illinois.

Tuesday’s press conference was a continuation of his efforts to fight for LGBTQ+ rights, empower community members to stand for human rights, call out attacks against queer communities, and give residents the chance to share their thoughts in a safe place and on their terms.

“It’s not complicated: everyone deserves a life where they can be their own true self,” Simmons said. “Our community deserves respect and dignity. Lawmakers across our nation have led despicable efforts to erode the basic human rights of LGBTQ+ Americans, and in coming together today, we fight against those bad actors and forge a path for youth and for our future to be able to stand with dignity in their lives. We have worked too hard and fought too long to see our history and representation erased, but in our unity, we will continue to move forward in power and undaunted.”

Footage from the press conference is available on Senator Simmons’ Facebook page.