Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

An LGBTQI+ poet and scholar looks to indigenous people in North America for broader gender definitions that can help modern society as the current culture struggles over accepting multiple identities.

Jessica Lynn
Illinois State University

Jessica Lynn is an advocate and activist for the transgender community. She is a Kinsey Institute Global Ambassador with Indiana University and a Stonewall School Role Model, and founded The Butterfly Project.

Eastview Pastor's Sex Sermon Called 'Offensive'

Aug 31, 2017
Eastview Christian Church

Pastor Mike Baker stands on a large stage at Eastview Christian Church that serves as a pulpit. He is dressed casually in a summer suit, open collar shirt, and loafers with no socks. Behind him, lit up in stage lights, are the letters: S E X.

Courtesy of Jordan Becker

Bloomington resident Jordan Becker joined the Army National Guard in 2008 as Jordan Elizabeth Becker, a woman. In 2014, he dropped Elizabeth from his name, began hormone therapy and underwent surgery to become a man.

Gay Officials Await Day When Their Election Isn't News

Jul 18, 2017
Elizabeth Guzaldo

The last municipal election in Bloomington-Normal was notable for the diversity of candidates. They included several women, African-Americans, a Muslim American, and an Illinois State University student. Among those elected were two openly gay women, married with children.

Springfield Bishop Decree Tests Parishioner's Faith

Jun 29, 2017
Steve Rainwater / Flickr

John Freml grew up in a Catholic family and attended parochial schools. He is an active member at his parish in Springfield and says he loves the Catholic Mass.

Springfield Bishop's Guidelines On Gays Stir Backlash

Jun 26, 2017
Seth Perlman / Associated Press

A new set of guidelines issued by Springfield's bishop, aimed at denying a role in the church for  married gay Catholics, has prompted an immediate backlash.

New Route Theater

The second year of a New Route Theatre festival keeps the goal of the first year: attract an audience that reflects the diversity of the community. 

The Voice of Pride: 2nd Annual Festival of New Plays features four staged readings through May 7. New Route Theatre Artistic Director Don Shandrow said during Sound Ideas there was a call for submissions, and readers for the theatre narrowed down the final list.

Middlebury College Professor Dr. Carly Thomsen said there is a disconnect between the desires, logics, and strategies of LGBTQ people in the rural Midwest and the "out, loud and proud" strategies of the gay rights movement.  Thomsen, who speaks at Illinois State University December 5, said her research of LGBTQ living in rural South Dakota and Minnesota uncovered a striking difference in how they consider themselves "supported" compared to their urban counterparts.

Illinois State University

A central Illinois HIV/AIDS health educator and advocate is reminding everyone the virus and disease are completely preventable.

Chris Wade, is the HIV project coordinator at the Illinois Public Health Association; director of prevention services for Central Illinois Friends of People With AIDS; and co-chair of the Illinois Alliance for Sound AIDS Policy (ILASAP). He will give the keynote address Thursday, December 1 as World AIDS Day events wind up at Illinois State University.

art around / Flickr

A major conference on cultural diversity in an education setting is coming to Bloomington-Normal next week.

Illinois State University's Culturally Responsive Campus Community organization is hosting more than 500 people October 24th and 25th to discuss ways to bridge gaps both on campus and in the community. In a Sound Ideas interview, conference organizer Stacey Hardin said the group surfaced at the urging of students in the aftermath of high profile police shootings of African-American males.

Wikimedia Commons

Gathering accurate numbers and determining the true scope of homelessness is difficult. The people are transient, sometimes don't identify as homeless, or may be hidden as the person is couch surfing instead of sleeping on the street. Trying to track subsets, like homeless youth or LGBTQ youth homelessness is even more difficult. 

Elvert Barnes / Flickr

Cook County officials say they expect to issue the 10,000th marriage license to a same-sex couple this week.  

Cook County Clerk David Orr held a news conference along with state lawmakers and civil right groups to mark the milestone. He says that as of Monday morning the clerk's office has issued 9,990 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  

The Illinois Legislature approved a gay marriage law in late 2013, making Illinois the 16th state to allow same-sex marriages. The law took effect in June 2014.  

Staff / WGLT

Proponents of a health care clinic in central Illinois designed to meet the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex population say such a facility could help limit discrimination against those individuals.

Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hosptial

Local advocates are raising funds to open a clinic in Bloomington-Normal that will address the health needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

It would be the first such clinic in central Illinois.  

One model might be the Ann and Robert H. Lurie (LURE-ee) Children's Hospital in Chicago. The hospital has what is considered  one of the most comprehensive clinics in the state for treating health issues involving gender and sexuality.

Creative Commons

LGBTQ advocates indicate there is a big need for a clinic to serve transgender people in central Illinois.

Central Illinois Pride Health Center Director Len Meyer said they are trying to qualify for non-profit status, because most go to Chicago to get hormone replacement therapy.

LGBT Community Welcome In Twin Cities Churches

Jun 27, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

Religious leaders in the Twin Cities are reaching out to LGBT individuals to let them know that Bloomington and Normal offer open places for spiritual growth. Representatives from Christian, Unitarian Universalist and Jewish faiths gathered at a panel discussion to give their perspectives on the importance of welcoming all people into their faiths.

DSC04776 / Flickr via Creative Commons

The mass shooter in Orlando not only killed 49 people, he struck at the heart of a place that for many in the gay community means so much more than just a watering  hole or hang out.

New Route Theater

New Route Theater is presenting a festival of LGBTQ plays Friday and this weekend. Theater Director Don Shandrow and program Curator Duane Boutte join Charlie Schlenker to talk about Voices of Pride.

Bill Kemp

A Civil War veteran with a central Illinois connection is on The Legacy Wall, on display at ISU's Milner Library through February 27. Albert D.J. Cashier was born Jennie Hodgers in Ireland. While a lot is known about his life, it's still not as much as others of the era because Cashier was illiterate.


One of the historical figures depicted on the Legacy Wall, on display at Illinois State University's Milner Library through Feb. 27, is civil rights pioneer Bayard Rustin. The Legacy Wall contains mini-biographies of LGBT people from all walks of life.

As part of the Legacy Wall display, Carlos Figueroa of Ithaca College presented a talk on Rustin, in advance of his upcoming book entitled Bayard Rustin: Black Gay Quaker Thinker and Civil Rights & Labor Activist. Figueroa said, "Rustin grounded all of his activism in his Quaker upbringing and heritage."

Legacy Wall Explores Often-Hidden LGBT Lives

Feb 23, 2016
Judith Valente

Several surprises await those who visit The Legacy Project exhibit  on view at Illinois State University's Milner Library until next Friday. The project pays tribute to the contributions of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender individuals throughout history.

David Bentlin

The Prairie Pride Coalition is working with the results of a Multi-Cultural Leadership Program survey to address the needs and priorities of  lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered people in McLean County.  The survey was completed about a year ago and since then the PPC, using the results of the survey, has been working to develop programming and increase communication with the LGBT community.