Categories:  Faculty

Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame to induct UIC historian

Jennifer Brier

Jennifer Brier, associate professor of gender and women’s studies and history.
Photo: Jenny Fontaine/UIC Office of Public Affairs (click on image for larger file size)

Jennifer Brier, director of the gender and women’s studies program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is one of 15 people selected for induction into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. The hall of fame is overseen by the nonprofit Friends of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in partnership with the City of Chicago.

Brier, a historian of LGBT communities and of AIDS, is being honored for more than a decade of  contributions to the city, including her co-curating of the Chicago History Museum’s “Out in Chicago” exhibition in 2011-12. The exhibition, which highlighted 150 years of LGBT history in Chicago, won several awards, including the 2013 Excellence in Exhibitions Award with special distinction in community service from the American Alliance of Museums.

Brier, who is associate professor of gender and women’s studies at UIC, explores the historical intersections of gender, race and sexuality through her research and teaching. Recently, her research has focused on community engagement and public history.

Her 2009 book, “Infectious Ideas: U.S. Political Responses to the AIDS Crisis,” shows how the AIDS epidemic influenced health care and foreign policy, reproductive health, gay and lesbian rights and racial justice. With a broad view of the scope and reach of AIDS activism, Brier concludes that despite the impact of the AIDS crisis on American politics in the 1980s and 1990s, the era was not as politically conservative as it is often characterized.

She is the lead investigator of the UIC-based project History Moves, a mobile gallery that displays less-explored aspects of Chicago’s history as it travels around the city. The project, currently in its second stage of prototyping, received support last year from a National Endowment for the Arts grant.

Other individuals inducted this year include the late Joffrey Ballet co-founder Gerald Arpino, State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, president and CEO of Personal PAC Terry Cosgrove, transgender sports writer and Baseball Prospectus co-founder Christina Kahrl, lawyer Edward Mogul, activist Lisa Marie Pickens, Commissioner Debra Shore of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, physician Ross Slotten, and the late community organizer Bennet Williams.

Honored as “friends of the community” are HIV/AIDS counselor Lucretia Clay-Ward, State Sen. Heather Steans, and human rights advocate Clarence Wood. The organizations named are the WTTW-TV initiative “Out & Proud in Chicago” and the Chicago theater project Silk Road Rising.

The Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremony is Nov. 12 at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St. A reception begins at 5:30 p.m., and the program at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The inductees were selected by a committee of former inductees that reviewed nominations submitted by the public.

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