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Congratulations to Owen Keehnen and the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 11/07/11
Last updated on: 11/07/11
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Owen Keehnen. Photograph by Doug Birkenheuer.

Congratulations to the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame on its twentieth anniversary. Among the 2011 inductees to the Hall of Fame is glbtq.com contributor Owen Keehnen. He and ten other individuals and four organizations will be inducted at a ceremony on November 8, 2011 at the Chicago History Museum.

Israel Wright, associate director of the Hall of Fame Committee and secretary of the Friends of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, said, "It makes us proud that, even 20 years after our first ceremony, there are still important figures from the past and a constantly growing list of current Chicagoans whose accomplishments and community contributions merit being honored by the Hall of Fame."

The Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame was established in 1991 with the support of the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations and the Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues. It aims to honor persons and groups who have made significant contributions to the quality of life or well-being of Chicago's glbtq community and to Chicago itself.

Mayor Richard M. Daley hosted the first installation ceremony at City Hall and attended the ceremony each year through 2010, his last year as mayor. He commended the Hall of Fame for honoring individuals and organizations who "work to enrich and unify our city."

The Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame is the only officially recognized gay and lesbian hall of fame in the United States. However, it is privately supported through fundraisers and donations by individuals, businesses, and organizations.

Although the Hall of Fame has no physical building, its website Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame serves as a permanent exhibit that makes residents of Chicago and the world aware of the contributions of Chicago's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.

Among this year's honorees is writer, interviewer, activist, and historian Owen Keehnen, who "has used his gifts as a writer to help foster LGBT literary culture and preserve the rich LGBT past, and he has used his heart to make life better for those in need."

Conductor of more than 200 interviews with authors, activists, and artists, Keehnen has worked tirelessly to record the experience of glbtq people over three decades. Almost 40 of his interviews may be found in glbtq.com's Special Features. They include informative conversations with authors as diverse as Dorothy Allison, Quentin Crisp, Emma Donoghue, Jaime Manrique, and Sapphire (Ramona Lofton).

A compilation of more than 100 of his interviews is the basis of his book We're Here, We're Queer: The Gay '90s and Beyond (2011). He has contributed to several books about Chicago glbtq history. With Tracy Baim, he is co-author of two extensive biographies of Chicago gay legends, Leatherman: The Legend of Chuck Renslow (2011) and Jim Flint: The Boy From Peoria (forthcoming).

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