The Center on Halsted turns five, and you’re invited to the party

If you aren’t an avid supporter of the Center on Halsted, you’re about to be converted. The most comprehensive LGBT community center in the country is based right here, in the heart of Boystown (3656 N. Halsted), and it’s working overtime to improve the lives of all people who call this planet home. The staff are constantly working to improve services and expand, (so if you ever pass by and someone asks you to complete a quick survey, DO IT!) From the volunteers all the way up to the CEO, the people who work here are dedicated to enriching our lives and should be recognized for the uber impressive contribution that they make just by being themselves. The services they provide are exhaustive, from an open door policy and free gathering spaces, to senior living programs, to hosting Queer Prom, the Center has become a safe haven for not just the LGBT community but a pillar of strength for the city as a whole.

Their mission is simple, to be an all inclusive location where people of all sexual orientations and identities can gather and simply be themselves and be treated with dignity and respect. Their message is one that I think is not only admirable, but necessary, in this crazy world of ours. Regardless of surface definitions, beyond race and age and sexuality, we are all human first.

To help showcase the underlying message they are infectiously spreading, the Center hosts an annual Human First gala where they recognize individuals and corporations for their outstanding work in the community. On this amazing night, the Center brings focus to not just LGBT members but allies, not just corporations pushing for LGBT rights, but improving our community at large…gay, straight, bent, and everywhere in between. This year is a massive year, as the Center is celebrating their First Five in honor of the road they have traveled since proudly opening their doors in 2007. Not only is the event the largest LGBT gala in the nation, topping off at roughly 1,500 guests, but it’s bringing in some very heavy hitters who are huge advocates; hosted by Bravo’s own Andy Cohen and complete with a full concert by k.d lang and The Siss Boom Bang. Take a moment, compose yourself.

You know what? Never mind. Don’t get composed. It’s k.d. lang, and it’s going to be an event that will sear itself into your heart. As it’s the Center, it’s only fitting that the event is open to all people, of all ages, with a strong focus on fun and laughter and a love of humanity. So go, support an organization that works tirelessly to support us all. We may all be human first, but we’re a family second; and families show up to celebrate milestone birthdays for the ones we love. Especially when it’s our favorite relative, and the party is held at the amazing Harris Theater. If that isn’t enough of a reason to jump up and purchase your tickets, then do it for humanitarian icon and a rockstar performer k.d. lang. Whatever motivates you, the Center is calling. Talk a stroll through the space, grab a drink at speed dating, lob a ball in indoor volleyball, and hobnob with the amazing folks at the Human First gala, May 12th.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit:


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About Leah Schein

Leah is a born and bred Chicagoan, and considers herself extremely fortunate to be raised by amazing liberal parents in Logan Square. Coming from a long family history of equality activism, the crazy world of politics feels like home to her. Her upbringing allowed her to fully appreciate her love of tacos, and provided the support needed to be independent and insane. She is a happy survivor of the public school system, all the way through her undergrad years, culminating with a BA in anthropology. Her love of travel and all things adventurous led to the pursuit of a Master of Science from sunny ol’ England, where she happily grasped a conservation degree and ran off to live in a number of rain forests to research nocturnal primates. Through the amazing diversity she was fortunate to be raised amongst, she has an unwavering appreciation of all cultures and peoples, and has used this to form the foundation of her outspoken support of civil rights. You may have seen her running around Boystown/Tuna town over the last decade, or at events she volunteers at for the Human Rights Campaign. It’s possible you spied her at the Silent Film Festival. That strange woman getting into a wrestling match in the leaves on Foster Ave beach at 3am…that definitely wasn’t her. She couldn’t be more excited about sharing her love of science, and it’s role in our daily lives, with the community she loves. Nerds are cool, people. They drink martini’s too.


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