Vernita Gray, an LGBT rights activist in Chicago, died late Tuesday of cancer. Gray who wed her partner in Illinois’ first same-sex marriage died at age 65 in the same Chicago home where she married Patricia Ewert last November.
Gray helped develop a telephone hotline, organized support groups for LGBT Chicagoans, and even helped create Chicago’s first lesbian newspaper, Lavender Woman. She also formed the lesbian caucus of Gay Liberation, which led to Chicago’s Gay Liberation Network, an LGBT direct action organization, and for decades regularly participated in LGBT marches and rallies.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel lauded Gray’s work in a statement Wednesday:
“Vernita Gray was an inspiration to all who crossed her path, from President (Barack) Obama, who knew her by name, to the victims of violence she comforted and the young people for whom she was a fierce advocate,” Emanuel said. “Her legacy can be felt in the many institutions she supported and by every LGBT couple in Illinois who is now free to marry the person they love.”
Rest in power.