Bill Greaves



1) Birthdate:


2) Birthplace:

Queenstown, Maryland

3) City/state where you live currently:

Chicago, Illinois

4) Education:

Bucknell University (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania), BS, Chemistry
Iowa State University (Ames, Iowa), PhD, Inorganic Chemistry

5) Career:

My career has concentrated in two areas: chemical information and civil service.

Mayoral Appointee, City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations’ Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues (2000 to present).

• Serve as the City of Chicago’s and Mayor Richard M. Daley’s liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities of Chicago, a constituency of about 350,000 people.
• Direct the City’s Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues.
• Develop public policy and legislation.
• Facilitate day-to-day communications between City departments and the LGBT communities.
• Act as a spokesperson on LGBT policy issues for the City and Mayor Daley.
• Represent the City and Mayor Daley at forums, meetings, press conferences, and events.
• Plan, manage, and promote nationally recognized programs and forums to support and educate the LGBT communities.
• Plan, manage, and promote programs and forums to educate and inform Chicago residents about the LGBT communities.

Intellectual Property Analysis, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co. (1999 to 2000); Amoco Corporation (1990 to 1999); Abbott Laboratories (1988 to 1990).

Database Administration and Training, SK&F (Smith, Kline & French) Laboratories (1986 to 1988).

Associate Editor of Science Magazine, American Association for the Advancement of Science (1984 to 1986).

Editing, Training, and Information Science, Amoco Corporation (1978 to 1984).

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

I am a gay male.

7) If you are GLBT, describe when you first "knew":

Although I always knew I was different from most people, I first understood that I was gay when I was in graduate school, about 1977. If I had to pinpoint a moment when I “knew,” it was when David Kopay presented a lecture at Iowa State University. I listened to him speak and realized that I was gay, too. I came out socially in 1979.

8) Who did you first "come out" to and when?

I first came out to friends — and boyfriends — who I met through going to bars in Chicago in 1979.

Then, in Chicago, I came out to a friend I knew through a professional society. I resisted coming out to him for a long time — although he was overtly gay — until I attended a convention of this professional society (the Society for Technical Communication) in Minneapolis.

I went out on the town one night and returned to my hotel with a man I had picked up at a bar. It was about 2 a.m., and I thought we would be able to get back to my room without being seen. When we walked into the hotel, the entire Chicago contingent at the convention — except for me — was sitting in front of the elevators, playing cards and drinking. Busted!! Blushing, I mumbled “I’d like you to meet my cousin…” as I dragged my trick to the elevator.

My friend was not at the convention with us, but when I returned to Chicago, the first phone call I received at work was from him. I answered the phone, and all he did was laugh. For a long time. Finally, he challenged me, and I came out to him.

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

The most significant trouble I faced as a gay man was professional. In 1983, at Standard Oil (Indiana), when I received my performance review, I received a good review. However, at the end of it, my supervisor said there was just one more thing she wanted to go over with me, and she said “I don’t know anything about your personal life, and I don’t want to know anything about your personal life, but if you bring your personal life into the office you know what will happen to you.”

I certainly knew what that meant. At that moment I resolved to find another job, one in a city, where I could be myself openly. Off I went to Science magazine, where I came out to the staff.

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

As I was coming out, I found many mentors among members of DC Front Runners and Frontrunners/ Frontwalkers Chicago. There are too many to mention here, but I am grateful to all of them.

Later on, Larry McKeon, Mary Morten, Clarence Wood, and the members of the Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues became strong allies and mentors.

Now there are far too many to mention. Today everyone I work with teaches me something meaningful and empowering.

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

Frontrunners/Frontwalkers Chicago (board member)
CCHR Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues (board member and volunteer)
Adler School of Professional Psychology (board member)
DC Frontrunners (volunteer)
Frontrunners/Frontwalkers Chicago (volunteer)
Proud to Run (volunteer)
Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame (volunteer)
Chicago Marathon (volunteer)

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

The Bushes (1979 to 1984)
The Gold Coast (1979 to 1984)
Sidetrack (from its opening to 1984)

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

Visibility, civil equality, and HIV/AIDS.

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

Civil equality (specifically, marriage and the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy); the effect of stigma (specifically, substance use and abuse); HIV/AIDS; support of LGBT youth; support of the aging LGBT population.

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

Like all gay men of my generation, I lost many of my friends to the epidemic and live daily with reminders of them. I can’t count the funerals I’ve attended. Every loss made me angry and spurred my activism.

16) How would you describe the "diversity" within the GLBT community of Chicago?

Chicago proves that LGBT people are everywhere. They are in all the many and varied neighborhoods that make up our city.

17) If you consider yourself a "political" activist, how do you define this?

Given my position as the City of Chicago’s and Mayor Daley’s liaison to the LGBT communities of Chicago, I am a “political” activist involved with a broad range of issues, educational initiatives, and campaigns that are constantly evolving.

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

I’d like to think that my efforts in passing the Gender Identity Ordinance on November 6, 2002, will prove to be of lasting significance in the development of Chicago’s LGBT community. Many others also worked on this campaign, which went a long way toward promoting equality and ending discrimination in our city.

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

Growing up in a small southern town of 350 people, I learned early that everyone has their story and everyone is important. Queenstown, Maryland, was so isolated that it needed every single person who lived there. This taught me to respect others and listen to their stories.

20) Additional comments and memories.

I am not sure that I would have come out so quickly and so comfortably if I had not lived in Chicago in 1979. The friends I made here — and the city itself — have supported and sustained me. For that I am very grateful.

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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