ChiQ, the Howard Brown Health gala formerly known as Garden of Eve, wasn’t just a fundraiser, it was both a trip down memory lane and a glimpse into the bright future of Chicago’s lesbian community.
Proceeds from ChiQ support Howard Brown Health’s services for women and TGNC people. Members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies were among the few hundred people eating, drinking, dancing and donating at the April 28 event.
ChiQ featured performances by Jeezy’s Juke Joint, a self-described “Black Burly Q Revue (above),” speeches from Howard Brown Health staff and patients, and, of course, dance music old and new spun by DJ All The Way Kay and DJ Sandra Suave.
The bridge to the lesbian community’s past began with the choice of location, the stunning South Shore Cultural Center. The cultural center was the site of what lesbians of a certain age all affectionately called “The Lesbian Prom,” a benefit for what was then the Lesbian Community Cancer Project (LCCP). At its peak, the Coming Out Against Cancer dance (COAC) drew 2,000+ lesbians and allies from across the Midwest. LCCP later expanded its mission to replace “Cancer” with “Care,” and LCCP merged with Howard Brown in 2007.
(Full disclosure: I served on the COAC planning committee one of its last years at the cultural center, and I may or may not have spent the entire night bragging that I was wearing my high school prom dress.)
Coupled with the nostalgia of being back at the original location was the look into the community’s future with the robust health care services and programming that Howard Brown is offering to lesbian-identified, trans and cis women. Patients can access primary care, screenings and vaccines, alternative insemination, mental health services and more at Howard Brown Health’s clinic locations across Chicago.
Earlier this year, Howard Brown conducted a Women’s Needs Assessment Survey to inform programming decisions and help determine the future of women’s health services.
“I want our expansion to be guided by what women want and need, and not what we think they want and need,” said Amy Nicole Miller, manager of Women’s Health Services at Howard Brown Health.
Howard Brown was founded in 1974 and is one of the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer organizations.
Photos by Kat Fitzgerald courtesy of Howard Brown Health