Yvonne Welbon

Survey


1) Birthdate:

1962


2) Birthplace:

Chicago, Illinois


3) Date you first mark as getting together with your partner:

My partner is Alison Duke [born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada]; we first got together in December of 2001.


4) City/state where you live currently:

Chicago, Illinois


5) Education:

Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, New York), BA, History
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, MFA, Film/Video
Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois), PhD, Film


6) Career:

Currently working in real estate and film production.


7) How do you describe your sexuality and your gender?

Lesbian


8) If you are GLBT, describe when you first “knew”:

I was 13 or 14 when I first "fell in love" with another girl.


9) Who did you first “come out” to and when?

Don't really remember having a coming out experience. My boyfriend, while I was in high school, may have been the first person to bring it up. He thought I was a lesbian.


10) What troubles did you face as a GLBT person?

When I was in a serious motor scooter accident in Taiwan in 1989, my family wanted to come to take care of me, but I convinced them not to because they didn't speak Chinese. But, honestly, I was afraid of what they'd think when they got there and found out I was a lesbian. How could I deal with that when I was trying to heal?


11) Did you have mentors in the Chicago GLBT community?

When I came back to Chicago in 1990, I learned a lot about things from Stephanie Coleman, who I also dated for a few years.


12) List organizations (GLBT or mainstream) you have been involved in:

Outfest Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation (founding board member)
Media Arts Panel, Illinois Arts Council (served three years on board)
Women in the Director's Chair (served three years on board)
Black Harvest International Film and Video Festival (served three years on board)
Reeling: Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival (served three years on board)
African American Women in the Arts Conference (served three years on board)
Vassar College (donor)


13) When you were coming out, what were your favorite GLBT bars in Chicago?

Didn't really do bars, because I don't drink.


14) What were the key issues faced in the GLBT community when you first came out?

HIV/AIDS and equal rights.


15) What issues do you see as key in the GLBT community today?

Equal rights.


16) How have AIDS and/or other health issues impacted your life personally?

I graduated from college in 1984 and moved to Taiwan, so in a way I sort of missed the early days of AIDS. When I came back to the United States in 1990 I met a few PWAs, who have since transitioned.


17) How would you describe the “diversity” within the Chicago GLBT community?

I think that Chicago has an incredibly diverse GLBT community. For instance, within the black GLBT community alone there is vast diversity across gender, age, nationality and especially CLASS. I think Chicago is like the rest of the country, pretty divided racially, but perhaps more so, because of the pride in neighborhoods, etc. People here love being associated with their home turf.

In looking at the diversity within the black GLBT community, I do see a divide. I'm sure it is the same for all the different ethnic and racial groups in this city. I don't think it is particular to Chicago, this is national.


18) If you consider yourself a “political” activist, how do you define this?

I don't really feel like I am a political activist.


19) Describe what you feel your personal legacy is to the Chicago GLBT community:

Right now, I don't see it. I feel like I have not really made significant contributions to the Chicago GLBT community; I feel like I should be asked that question in 20 years. I believe the film production that I will do in that time period will help to bring the lives of the Chicago GLBT community to the world and perhaps impact our world for the better.

Oh, I did receive an award and recognition from one Chicago lesbian group (Literary Exchange) for making the film Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100.




Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community, the book is edited by Tracy Baim and features the contributions of more than 20 prominent historians and journalists. It is published by Surrey Books, an Agate imprint, and is hard cover, 224 pages, 4-color, with nearly 400 photos.
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