Marcia Lipetz



1) Birthdate:


2) Birthplace:

Louisville, Kentucky

3) City/state where you live currently:

Chicago, Illinois

4) Education:

Douglass College, AB
Ohio State University, MA)
Northwestern University, PhD

5) Career:

President & CEO, Executive Service Corps of Chicago

6) Did you serve in the U.S. military?


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


8) Do you have children and/or grandchildren?

Three stepdaughters and two stepsons

9) If you are GLBT, please describe when you first “knew.”

Not until I was 24 really – I had some strong feelings and crushes in junior high and high school, but no language and no sexuality attached.

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

In 1973 to a student, friend, and to myself. I was teaching a class in social problems and did a unit on homosexuality. It was the early days of feminism, and lesbian issues were controversial. I wanted to know more, and that was a hint of more to come.

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

Pauline Bart, Jean Hardisty, and Eileen Kreutz.

12) Involvement in organizations (GLBT and/or mainstream):

ACLU AIDS Project (founder)
AIDS Foundation of Chicago/AFC (full-time executive director and donor)
Horizons (board member and donor)
Center on Halsted (board member and donor)
American Civil Liberties Union/ACLU (board member and donor)
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund (donor)
Lesbian Community Cancer Project/LCCP (donor)

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

Petunias; Augie's and CK's

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

Bar raids by the police.

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

As the first executive director of AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC), I lived and breathed AIDS for more than three-and-a-half years, and for two years before that as the co-chair of the ACLU's AIDS task force with Fred Eychaner in 1984 or ‘85. We developed the first policy in the U.S. for an ACLU, and that allowed us to accept a case for a physician at Cook Co. Hospital who had lost his privileges. Deaths were too numerous to count – gay men were diagnosed and died in 18 months, black women in four months.

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

We are diverse separately too often.

17) If you consider yourself a “political” activist, how do you define this?
I have been more of an activist in the past, specifically on HIV issues at the city and state level. Now I'm more involved as a donor.

One defining moment was serving as an openly gay delegate to the 1996 Democratic National Convention. Walking onto the floor for the first time was a magical moment for someone who watched political conventions all of her life.

18) Describe what you feel your personal legacy is to the Chicago GLBT community.

I guess I'm a builder – solid hard work that builds for the future – and I'm enormously proud of the work of the ACLU and the future of Center on Halsted.

19) This project is also about “defining moments.” Please discuss some of those in your life.

Coming out to my sister; taking a partner home for the first time; buying our first house; being in a relationship with children; the Democratic National Committee; AFC's first fundraiser; testifying in Springfield; the Center on Halsted's ribbon cutting and being in the gym, theater, and youth space for the first time.

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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