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Project Fierce Chicago buys building for LGBTQ youth housing

Aug. 28, 2015 - , Project Fierce Chicago purchased a four-flat building on Chicago's Southwest side last week, that will eventually be home to LGBTQ young people experiencing homelessness. 

The purchase of the building is the culmination of collective organizing and fundraising by dedicated volunteers from the grassroots organization, which launched in 2013. The group is comprised of independent advocates, social workers and community members.  

The organization began the work of determining structure, values, goals and timelines almost three years ago in a café on the West side. 

"We wanted to build something autonomous, community-led, and responsive to the needs of the people we aim to support. This path may be slower and more challenging than a more institutional approach, but is worth the independence, and is meaningful in its collectivity," said founder Cassandra Avenatti. 

The leadership of Project Fierce Chicago cites community support as crucial to their fundraising success. Jackie Boyd, a board member shared, "Our supporters understand that for youth to achieve their goals, stable housing is the critical first step and they have dedicated countless hours, ideas, and dollars to creating a community based solution."

As the group gears up for the renovation, they are focused on raising the funds necessary to sustain operation, particularly by recruiting sustainers, or monthly givers. Individuals can donate to the project by visiting projectfiercechicago.org/donate-now.


Renovation to prepare the building for occupancy will begin soon and is likely to continue through the fall.

Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel to be honored for their LGBT advocacy
Aug. 27, 2015 - , Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel will be honored at the 11th annual GLSEN Respect Awards at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, California.

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, works to create a safe space in schools for children who are or may be perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Timberlake and Biel will be honored with the group's Inspiration Award.

"We are thrilled to announce the honorees for the 2015 GLSEN Respect Awards – Los Angeles, two vocal and committed allies to the LGBT community who are also devoted to charitable works that improve the lives of youth," GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard said in a statement. "Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake have consistently been visible and committed allies."

Serving as honorary co-chairs for the 2015 ceremony are last year's Respect Award honorees: NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt, Julia Roberts and Danny Moder.

This year's co-hosts will include Matt Bomer and Simon Halls, Jessica Capshaw and Christopher Gavigan, Greg Berlanti, Brad Bessey and Frank Sanchez, Edison Briones, Kevin Brockman and Dan Berendsen, Jess Cagle, Terry Clark, Donald De Line, Mike Irvin, Richard Konigsberg and Craig Olsen, George Kotsiopoulos, Michael Lombardo and Sonny Ward, Corey Palent, Jonathan Rollo and Joey Gonzalez, Mimi Slavin, and Ben Spector.

The 2015 Respect Awards will take place Friday, October 23.

Illinois Gov. signs bill protecting LGBT youth from conversion therapy
Aug. 21, 2015 - , Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner on Thursday signed a bill that prohibits therapies that attempt to alter the sexuality or gender identity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth (LGBT).

With Rauner's signature, Illinois joins California, New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia in prohibiting such therapies.

The Illinois Senate approved the measure in May.

Spearheading support for the bill were the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Equality Illinois.

"With this tremendous step, LGBT youth in Illinois are now protected from a dangerous and appalling practice based on junk pseudoscience that amounts to nothing less than child abuse," HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. "Discredited by every major mental health, medical, and child welfare organization, conversion 'therapy' uses fear and shame to tell young people the only way to find love and acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are."

"We thank Governor Rauner, as well as members of the state legislature on both sides of the aisle, for putting politics aside and the well-being of children first. We will continue to work with our allies to secure these crucial protections in every state across the nation."

Rauner is the second Republican behind New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to sign such legislation.

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