Celebrating Our Lesbian and Queer Legacy

In preparation for the launch of this year’s ChiQ (formerly known as Garden of Eve) fundraiser, we have been doing Throwback Thursdays on Facebook to help build community across generations and identities. From L Word viewing parties, early 2000’s haircuts with frosted tips, softball teams, and drag king boy bands, we’ve only scratched the surface of our vibrant lesbian and queer legacy.

Drag king performance at the 2002 Lesbian Community Cancer Project’s Coming Out Against Cancer gala at the South Shore Cultural Center
Who: If you know, let us know!

In one way or another, our community has been gathering to celebrate and support lesbians, bisexual women, and TGNC people since 1992. Starting as fundraisers for the Lesbian Community Cancer Project (LCCP), which then became the Lesbian Community Care Project, it has grown into today’s Howard Brown Health Women’s Health Services program.

For the past 26 years, our spring fundraiser celebration has gone by many names, like the Coming Out Against Cancer Ball, the Click Ball, and Garden of Eve, to name a few. This year, ChiQ carries on that lesbian and queer legacy and embodies what makes our community unique: strong women, TGNC inclusivity, a strong commitment to help others, and our chic Chicago style.

We were able to talk to Jessica Halem, LCCP Executive Director from 2001 to 2006, who shared some of the many cultural touchstones that the Coming Out Against Cancer ball was a part of:

“What started out as a potluck fundraiser for cancer support services at LCCP became one the nation’s largest parties for queer women in a mere matter of years. Ellen’s famous swan dress, the first L Word script, Melissa Etheridge’s guitar, Meshell Ndegeocello, MC Lyte, and Michelle Obama were there at some point and made the Ball a success. All of it happened with volunteers doing the work. It was truly the community’s party.” – Jessica Halem, LCCP Executive Director, 2001-2006

Michelle Obama representing her husband’s U.S. Senate campaign at the 2004 LCCP Coming Out Against Cancer gala at the South Shore Cultural Center Photo Credit: Tracy Baim/Windy City Times

ChiQ brings us back to the South Shore Cultural Center, where the Coming Out Against Cancer Ball was held for many years. We’re excited to revisit this space, bringing old and new friends together. The night will feature rarely-seen photos of past Chicago spaces for lesbian and queer women from last year’s Lost & Found dyke bar event.

Women of color performance night at the Mountain Moving Coffeehouse for Womyn and Children
Who, clockwise from left: Lola Lai Jong, Vernita Gray, comic Marlene Moore, Donna Rose (on top of couch), Maria Sanchez (far right), Mona Noriega (to the left), Suzanne Molina, Diana Gomez (front) Photo credit: Windy City Times/Outlines

Come out for lesbians, queer women, and TGNC folks on Saturday, April 28 at ChiQ! It’s your chance to enjoy the signature sounds of DJ Sandra Suave and DJ All The Way Kay and witness stunning burlesque entertainment by Jeezy’s Juke Joint. You don’t want to miss this one of a kind party and fundraiser. By joining us at ChiQ, your generous support will enable us to continue to provide our clinical, behavioral health, and community health services, which include gynecological care, alternative insemination, breast and cervical cancer screening, HIV and STI screenings, and prevention and wellness education for the LBTQ community.

Let’s continue the tradition of the Lesbian Community Care Project and turn over a new frond at ChiQ!


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