15 YEARS OF
Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association
Empower October 2005
In This Issue Local Youth Wins Award
Local Youth Wins Award
Congratulations to Phillip Andrew Walensa on becoming the 2005 recipient of the National Youth
2nd Annual House Walk Is Here! Advocacy Council Youth Activism Impact Award. Andy was a finalist with 8 other impressive Chicagoland youth
who have made an outstanding impact in the lives of LGBT youth in their communities. Andy, 21, has been an
Message From The Co-Chairs
OPALGA youth group participant since he was 15, and was presented with
the award at a benefit reception September 19th. Andy’s volunteer work and
National Coming Out Day
youth leadership with OPALGA was highlighted at the event. Maya Marcel-
Love Thy Neighbor
Keyes, daughter of Alan Keyes, was a keynote speaker encouraging all youth
to continue their activism and be proud of who they are.
A Letter To CNN
The National Youth Advocacy Coalition is a social justice organization
PFLAG Oak Park News that empowers its members to fight injustice against LGBTQ youth
and advocates to ensure their physical and emotional well being. NYAC
Carson Pirie Scott Community Day
represents more than 130 youth serving agencies across the country and
Attention Bowlers! provides support and technical assistance to more than 500 others. It is the
only national organization focused solely on improving the lives of LGBTQ
Goodbye And Welcome!
youth through advocacy, education and information. Andrew Walensa
Contemplating Parenthood NYAC began awarding the Impact Award in 2000 to recognize
Workshop individuals and organizations that made an outstanding impact in the lives of LGBTQ youth in their
communities. The Youth Activism Impact Award honors individuals 16-24 years of age who: As young people,
Writer’s Soiree To Feature Dan
have been fearless when it comes to standing up for what they believe, fighting to be heard, and demanding
Ursini that youth issues receive the attention they deserve; Have had a profound impact on the lives of LGBTQ young
people and are passionate about the belief that young people should have the right to live their lives to its
fullest potential, free from harassment, intimidation and violence.
The NYAC Youth Activism Impact Award Reception was created through collaborations with multiple
Empower youth serving agencies throughout Chicagoland including: NYAC, Alternatives, National Runaway
Switchboard, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Center on Halsted, Chicago Department of Public Health, Illinois
A monthly newsletter from the Oak Park Caucus for Adolescent Health, OPALGA, The Night Ministry, Project VIDA, Pegasus Players, Renaissance Social
Area Lesbian and Gay Association. Services, Teen Living Programs and Vital Bridges.
Susan Abbott, Alan Amato, Brad Bartels,
Mike Cochran, D.W. Cole, Ethel Cotovsky, 2nd Annual House Walk Is Here!
Jan Hannigan, Cheryl Haugh, Nancy by Mike Cochran
Johnson, Donna Karpavicius. . . . . . Writers
Carl Mattson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Designer Just a reminder that when you are looking for something to fill the time Sunday, October 2 when the
Bears would normally be playing, OPALGA has solved your dilemma by scheduling its 2nd Annual House Walk.
To submit news e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org by
The event will begin at 1:00 PM at 318 S. Harvey Ave in Oak Park, and will feature 5 other residences owned by
the 2nd Friday of each month.
gay and lesbian individuals.
Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association “I urge all OPALGA members to join us for what promises to be a really fun event,” stated Mike Cochran,
947 Garfield, Oak Park, IL 60304 Chairman of this year’s Walk. “We have tried to attain diversity from every point of view. We have 3 gay-
TEL: (708) 848-0273 • FAX: (708) 848-7544 owned properties and 3 lesbian-owned properties. We have 4 residences in Oak Park and 2 in Forest Park. The
www.opalga.org properties range from a turn-of-the-century farmhouse to a brand new 4-story townhouse, with other single-
family homes and condominiums in between.”
Founded 1989 “This year’s Walk should really be interesting, and will give our members a sense of how others live and
(continued on page 4)
Message From The Co-Chairs Love Thy Neighbor
The President Lied! by Alan Amato, Public Policy Chair
by Brad Bartels & Cheryl Haugh
Not easy days for LGBT people of faith. The major
Well it wasn’t really a lie. And, well, it wasn’t really the president it was the co-chair. (now we’ve Christian denominations in the US are sharply divided
got your attention!) We SAID September was Membership Month, but we’ve extended it to run through over lesbian/gay ordinations and same sex marriage.
October and here’s why. September was a very busy month. Not only was it punctuated by tragic events on The world-wide Anglican Communion is close to
a national level like the hurricanes along the gulf coast which grabbed everyone’s attention, but September schism by the Episcopal Church’s consecration of Gene
was full of OPALGA events. Martinis at The Blue Water Lounge in Brookfield; defining peace at Peace Fair Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire and the Anglican
and Town Hall Meeting in Oak Park’s Scoville Park; burgers, dogs and games at the First Annual OPALGA Church of Canada’s blessings of same sex unions.
Picnic in Thatcher Woods; and preparation for the Second Annual House Walk were just some of the The Vatican has ordered an inquisition to “purify”
activities held in September. Membership, our people and the number of members, is too important to slip US seminaries. The Vatican wants to bar entrants and
on by, so you will be seeing posters in the surrounding communities encouraging participation by joining. remove current seminarians who are gay. Even though
You may have noticed this year that besides expanding our group programs to include women they commit to the Roman Catholic priestly vow of
who are coming-out later in life, we have also boosted our social and family program offerings so there celibacy.
is something almost every week that one can attend through OPALGA. A well organized and dynamic The religious right continues its crusade against
Program Committee headed by Russ Glidden, meets monthly to suggest, plan and otherwise make happen LGBT rights, choice and a host of other human rights
those events. We hope you have enjoyed the benefits of their work. issues. Closer to home the LGBT community continues
We are asking that you ask one friend, neighbor, or new person to the area to join OPALGA for the to be attacked, especially on the issue of same sex
year. Of course, you can ask more than one, but please commit to at least one. Membership forms can be marriage, by such churches as Calvary Memorial in Oak
downloaded off the internet web site at www.opalga.org. Spread the word! OR give a membership as a Park and Living Word in Forest Park.
gift! A membership would be great for a birthday, house warming, commitment ceremony or just because However glum this sounds, there are houses
you care. Give a family member a membership as a special way to come out... of worship in Oak Park which welcome the LGBT
AND IT’S CHEAP, that is, inexpensive...at $30.00 for individual and $50.00 family. community. Many of these churches proudly display the
Finally, you should know that a lot of fine people are working to make events and publications rainbow flag on their outdoor announcement board–a
happen at OPALGA “right now”. It is an exciting time to PARTICIPATE! It doesn’t take a particular skill, symbol that yes, we are welcome.
just a willingness to help us build a Community of Pride. If you would like to get involved, there are OPALGA is pleased to recognize these houses of
things to do and people with whom to do them. Please join us. worship. These churches which truly proclaim the
Call Brad or Cheryl at the OPALGA office (708) 848-0273 if you have any questions or have an idea. primary teaching of Christianity...love thy neighbor as
P.S. Coming in November: Annual Meeting, November 11—come celebrate our tremendous year. thyself.
n Euclid Ave. United Methodist Church - 405 S. Euclid
National Coming Out Day—Talk About It n First United Church of Oak Park - 848 Lake
National Coming Out Day is October 11 and is a day for every single person who supports GLBT n Good Shepherd Lutheran - 611 Randolph
equality to speak openly about it. Maybe you’re coming out for the first time ever, or maybe you’re just n First United Methodist - 324 N. Oak Park Ave.
talking with a neighbor, coworker, friend or acquaintance about GLBT issues for the first time. Regardless, n New Spirit Church - 542 S. Scoville
coming out and being out is the most important thing you can do. n Pilgrim Congregational - 460 Lake
This year’s theme for National Coming Out Day is “Talk About It.” Being brave doesn’t mean that n Unity Temple - 875 Lake
you’re not scared. It means that you’re scared, and that you do the thing that you’re afraid of anyway.
n Third Unitarian Church - 301 N. Mayfield, Chicago
Coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or as a straight supportive person is an act of bravery,
authenticity and openness. Whether it’s for the first time ever, or for the first time today—coming out
is the most important thing you will do all day. Talk about it. You can learn more about National Hayes Coffee
Coming Out Day by visiting http://hrc.org and clicking on the “Coming Out” link. 1010 North Blvd • 708-524-1914
OPALGA Board Members Advertising Info Coffee Roasters
When The Quality Counts More Than Cost
Brad Bartels Alan Amato
3 months 2.5" x 2.25" $60 Arabian Matari, Jamaican Blue Mountain, Pure Java,
Cheryl Haugh Jim Aull Sumatra, French Roast, Café Cubano, Pure Kona
Ethel Cotovsky 6 months 2.5" x 2.25" $110
Treasurer J. Lee Latham 12 months 2.5" x 2.25" $200 FREE Samples Every Saturday!
Mike Cochran Lisa Pearson 1 month flyer insert $75
Secretary Liz Stallone Any 4 LBS $40.00 or 35% OFF
Sherrie Wolfe Davida Williams
Call (708) 848-0273 www.hayescoffee.com
2 Empower • October 2005
Carson Pirie Scott A Letter To CNN
Community Day Below is a letter a friend of mine who lives in Missouri wrote to CNN after their broadcast story on
Carson Pirie Scott is having a Community Day on “reparative therapy.” My friend, DW Cole, as he indicated is a survivor of this therapy and provides
Saturday, November 19, 2005. They are offering schools some interesting personal experiences. My partner and I caught the second of this two-part story and
and non-profit organizations coupon booklets to sell for were shocked by the lack of evidence to support this approach and that CNN did not consider dealing
$5.00 each. You get a coupon for $5.00 off an item and with the long-term impact of this therapy. Luckily, my friend has come a long way...he is divorced,
several for 20 percent off other items. You may also enter has maintained a good relationship with his kids and is in a long-term committed relationship.
to win a trip for four to Cozumel Mexico. The booklets —Brad Bartels, Board of Directors Co-Chair
are here in The Center and the best part is we get to keep
all the money we collect. Please call The OPALGA Center Dear CNN:
at (708) 848-0273 for more information. As a “survivor” of reparative therapy, I am very concerned about the lack of balance presented in the
CNN story that you covered on reparative therapy. You covered reparative therapy as recognized and legitimate
form of therapy. I challenge CNN to find one major Medical or Psychiatric Association that approves of
Attention Bowlers! reparative therapy. BOTH the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association
We will be starting our first annual league at Victory denounce this practice. There have been no reputable studies done that show any effectiveness “over a long
Lanes in Riverside on Wednesday, October 5th, 2005. term basis” that reparative therapy works. There is a truly a zero percent success rate (if people are honest).
The address is 7312 W Ogden—just west of Harlem on My personal experience with over 6 years of reparative therapy was one of guilt, shame, brain-washing
the north side of the street. The phone number is (708) and fear....these are not qualities associated with successful psychological counseling. I have counseled with
447-4000. For those of you who have signed up already- some of the best “reparative groups” in the nation: Exodus, Love in Action, Desert Stream and through
please try to arrive by 7:00 PM the first night so we can Joseph Nicolosi’s group of counselors (the guru of reparative therapy). All these groups and their methods are
form teams and introduce ourselves. If you’re interested very dangerous. I have met hundreds of gay people in these programs and I know not one person “cured or
in bowling, please call Donna K. at (708) 227-8799 or changed”. Yes for a short period of time it is possible to repress homosexual feelings, but over the long haul,
come on over to Victory Lanes on the 5th. There is a I KNOW NOT ONE PERSON who has really changed. It is true that reparative therapy groups claim people
maximum of 30 people on the league—so please call are cured: they stay married, become celibate, or repress their feelings. But no one really changes. This is
soon if you’d like to bowl! It’s a 20 week minimum-and dirty little secret of reparative therapy, ask them for long term results and follow-up studies and they have
we’ll have a lot of fun! Hope to see you there! none (nor will they ever do any studies). There is reason that the two men who originally founded Exodus,
debunked the process of reparative therapy, left the group and are now in long-term partnered relationship.
Contact Mel White of the Soulforce organization (Soulforce.org) if you want to get the true story of the
destructiveness of reparative therapy.
(continued on page 4)
PFLAG Oak Park News
Our big news this month is our wildly successful bake sales at the Oak Park Farmers’ Market. Our first
on August 27 earned $654. Our big draw was fresh-baked bread. Sylvia got up at 4:00 AM and baked bread
for the next six hours while Gy ran back and forth bringing hot fresh bread to our booth. We offered bite-
sized samples. After one bite it was easy to sell a loaf. We had a large variety of sweet breads as well.
Our second sale on September 10 didn’t have hot fresh-baked bread, but we had an even larger
variety of baked goods: brownies, cookies, muffins, pound cake, and at least 15 other types of sweet breads,
and multi-grain mini loaves. We also had a large jar for donations which collected nearly $80 by itself.
Altogether we took in $751.30!
We want to thank all the people who helped make our bake sales so profitable. Our bakers: Sylvia,
Velna, Kate, Nancy, Rich, Mitzi, Kathleen, and Fred; our helpers: Gy, Phil, George, Jimmie. And Mike who
made us labels for the baked goods. The labels had our name, phone number and web-site, as well as
enough room to write the name of the item. Finally, we thank the people of Oak Park who once more
showed their support for PFLAG by stopping by our booth to buy something, or just to say “Thank you for
At our August meeting our speaker was Dan, a gay man who is planning to adopt a child. He will be a
single father as he has no partner. He told us of doing on-line searches for agencies and children. What he
found is that there are many African-American boys, and many children with disabilities available in the
U.S. Scarcest are white babies. He has decided to adopt an African-American boy between the ages of 4 and
6. Since it will be a cross-racial adoption, he must undergo additional hours of training to become eligible
(continued on page 4)
3 Empower • October 2005
Goodbye And Welcome! Writer’s Soiree To
by Susan Abbott Feature Dan Ursini
The OPALGA Writers’ Soiree will meet at 6:30 PM on
I would like to say goodbye and thank you to Alejandro Lopez who has been an amazing asset to our October 19th at the home of Ethel Cotovsky, 10 Pleasant
group services team. Alex has been the group facilitator for Amigos Latinos Apoyando Siempre (ALAS), our Street. Dan Ursini will be with us once again and will
monthly drop-in group for Latino gay and bi men who are 18 and older. Alex also provided educational share some of his writing. Dan wrote the very first play
outreach in local bars and with scheduled groups. He had a great connection with the men in his group, ever performed by Steppenwolf Theater Company:
helped the program grow, and created a space where group members could feel comfortable and build SANDBAR FLATS. The company and the play got rave
community. Thank you Alex, you will be greatly missed! reviews with Chicago magazine calling it the best play
Although we will miss Alex, we would like to welcome his partner, Celso Cardenas who will join us of the year. Please bring a snack to share.
as the facilitator of ALAS and provide outreach to Latino men. Celso comes to OPALGA with a wealth of
experience providing HIV/STD prevention education to gay Latino men. Celso most recently provided
group facilitation, HIV testing and counseling to Latino men through Project VIDA in Chicago. We are PFLAG Oak Park News
very excited to have Celso join our team! (continued from page 3)
ALAS meets the second Tuesday of every month from 7:30-9:30 PM at The OPALGA Center. All services
are in English and Spanish. For more information on ALAS, please call (708) 386-3463. to adopt. He is looking forward to being a parent. He
has investigated nursery schools and day care and has
found several suitable places. His mother is also excited
Contemplating Parenthood Workshop at the prospect of becoming a grandmother. He himself
OPALGA is pleased to offer our second 1 1/2 day workshop on “Contemplating Parenthood in the Gay is looking forward with anticipation to the spectrum
& Lesbian Community.” Come and join us on Saturday, November 12 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM to hear of activities involved in parenting: parent-teacher
some professional perspectives and on Sunday, November 13 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM to meet gay and lesbian conferences, school plays, after school activities, play
parents and their children. The workshop will take place at Hephzibah Children‘s Association, 946 North groups. However, when he said he was looking forward
Boulevard, Oak Park (North Blvd. is 1 block south of Lake St., between Oak Park Ave. & Harlem). to being a grandparent some day, several of us couldn’t
This workshop was first offered in spring 2005 and participant feedback included: “well planned and help but remind him that parents’ dreams aren’t always
thought out, great job, thank you! :)” “One of the best workshops I have ever attended.” “We can’t wait to realized!
have a family.” “Thank you!! This was worth far and beyond the cost of the weekend!!” After four years of operating under the umbrella of
A Resource Table at the event offers various materials to encourage further exploration on this critical Hinsdale we’ve decided to become a stand-alone PFLAG
topic, including alternative insemination, surrogacy, foster care & adoption of state wards, domestic & chapter. We’re meeting with Oak Park attorney Angelika
international adoption, second parent adoption and OPALGA Membership and Program Information. Kuehn. She has served as attorney for several other local
The fee for the workshop is $75 for an individual and $125 for a couple. All workshop organizers and LGBT-related organizations. With her assistance we
presenters volunteer their services. Your workshop fee helps to fund OPALGA youth programming. should be able to complete the process smoothly.
Finally, we want to extend our sympathy to our
member Christine upon the loss of her dear friend in a
A Letter To CNN tragic motorcycle accident. Our thoughts are with her
(continued from page 3) and her friend’s family.
Reparative therapy is one of the ways the religious right uses to bash gay people...”Gays choose to be
gay, you can change ... just pray and God will heal you form your sinful, chosen Lifestyle.” It really bothers
me That CNN covered this story without showing the other side of the reparative therapy story, the story of 2nd Annual House
broken lives who have gone through reparative therapy or people like myself who finally realized that it was Walk Is Here!
all it “smoke and mirrors” .The religious right views homosexuality as a evil sin and a behavioral “flaw” (continued from page 1)
that can be corrected by religious agendas disguised as a pseudo-science. Gay people are fighting for equal
rights in this country, which the religious right opposes (because gay people are living in sin and sin must decorate their residences,” Cochran added. “Gardeners
be opposed). In Washington DC and around the country leaders of the Republican Party are also voicing will also enjoy the walk, as 2 of the properties feature
this viewpoint: US Senator Sanatorium: Comparing gays to pedophiles and traditional marriage must be outstanding gardens and landscaped areas. It will be a
protected. US Senator DeMint: Gays should not be allowed to be teachers. Texas Governor Perry: Gays should great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.”
move out of Texas, move to where “their lifestyle” would be accepted. Tickets are available the day of the event at 318 S.
Where’s the outrage and coverage of these remarks?! CNN played right into the Right Wing Religious Harvey for $25 each; if purchased in advance through
Republican agenda by airing a very one-sided story. Plus the psychological damage of such a story can OPALGA, they are only $20. Like last year, there will be
inflict on gay people, especially gay teenagers, cannot be calculated or underestimated! It’s bad enough that refreshments and a get-together at the end of the walk.
FOX News distorts the news and issues like this and positions itself as “fair and balanced”, but I have always Join us this Sunday, October 2nd, for an interesting look
expected more from CNN. at some homes, art and gardens, and meet some new
Sincerely, D.W. Cole friends at the same time.
4 Empower • October 2005
OCTOBER 2005 TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
OPALGA OPALGA OPALGA OPALGA RED OPALGA OPALGA OPALGA TGIQ
House Walk Spectrum Youth Program Prism Youth Potluck
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
OPALGA OPALGA ALAS OPALGA RED OPALGA OPALGA TGIQ
Spectrum Youth Prism Youth
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
OPALGA OPALGA OPALGA RED OPALGA OPALGA TGIQ
Spectrum Youth Board Meeting Prism Youth
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
OPALGA OPALGA RED OPALGA OPALGA TGIQ
Women Like Me Spectrum Youth Prism Youth
Spectrum Youth To Sign Up For Empower E-Updates
947 Garfield • Oak Park, IL 60304 • (708) 848-0273
Events for October 2005
2 OPALGA’s 2nd Annual House Walk. The event will begin at 1:00 PM at 318 S. Harvey Ave in Oak Park, and will feature 5 other residences owned by gay and lesbian
individuals. Tickets are available the day of the event at 318 S. Harvey for $25 each; if purchased in advance through OPALGA, they are only $20. Like last year,
there will be refreshments and a get-together at the end of the walk.
4 OPALGA Program Committee Meeting at The OPALGA Center, 947 Garfield, Oak Park, 7:00 PM.
5 OPALGA Bowling League at Victory Lanes in Riverside, 7312 W Ogden, (708) 447-4000. For those of you who have signed up already-please try to arrive by 7:00 PM
the first night so we can form teams and introduce ourselves. If you’re interested in bowling, please call Donna K. at (708) 227-8799.
7 OPALGA Potluck hosted by Ray Tse, 222 N. Marion St., #1A, Oak Park, Illinois, (708) 763-9910. The potluck starts at 7:00 PM. Potluck attendees, besides your dish,
please bring a bag of snacks or cans of pop/water to donate to our group programming. Your donations greatly help offset the cost of running these programs!
10 OPALGA Coffee House at the Buzz Café, 905 S. Lombard Ave, Oak Park, 7:00 PM.
11 National Coming Out Day is a day for every single person who supports GLBT equality to speak openly about it. Maybe you’re coming out for the first time ever, or
maybe you’re just talking with a neighbor, coworker, friend or acquaintance about GLBT issues for the first time. Regardless, coming out and being out is the most
important thing you can do. This year’s theme for National Coming Out Day is “Talk About It.” Whether it’s for the first time ever, or for the first time today—
coming out is the most important thing you will do all day. Talk about it.
19 The OPALGA Writers’ Soiree will meet at 6:30 PM at the home of Ethel Cotovsky, 10 Pleasant Street. Dan Ursini will be with us once again and will share some of his
writing. Dan wrote the very first play ever performed by Steppenwolf Theater Company: SANDBAR FLATS. The company and the play got rave reviews with Chicago
magazine calling it the best play of the year. Please bring a snack to share.
Empower • October 2005 Calendar