Michael Bauer: Role Model, Activist and Friend

I don’t know how to say good-bye to a legend like Michael Bauer. He was an activist, role model, friend, convener, master strategist, and change-maker. Gregarious, funny, and a bundle of energy, Michael spoke his mind and showed such care and love for everyone around him, as well as everyone near and far suffering from oppression. He devoted his life to advance social justice, a path I hope to replicate with my own life and career. I aspire to make him and his amazing husband Roger Simons proud when my days are counted.

Photo by Ed Negron / Windy City Times

As a fledging activist and non-profit executive at AIDS Foundation of Chicago in the 1990s, I had the pleasure to work closely with and get to know Michael. He mentored me in his multiple roles as board member, lobbyist, strategist, and political coach, helping me navigate the seemingly shark-infested waters on Capitol Hill and the State House in Springfield. He used his considerable connections to broker legislative advances for LGBTQ rights, public health, and AIDS advocacy. Though he worked closely with elected and appointed officials and other powerful figures, he gave his attention and kindness to everyone. He used his extensive connections to advanced social causes and helped make advocacy groups like Howard Brown Health, the ACLU of Illinois, AIDS Foundation Chicago, Lambda Legal, Illinois Holocaust & Genocide Commission, Citizens Action Illinois, and other groups even more influential by his engagement and assistance.

But mostly I will remember Michael as a beautiful, funny, and generous spirt with the biggest smiles and warmest hugs who loved to tell stories, loved to dance, loved to joke and laugh, and loved our colorful and complex LGBTQ community and all the other tribes he claimed and championed.

As social justice warriors, we will carry his flame with love and tenacity to never to turn our back to injustice.


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