LGBTQIA+ History: Chicago community organization offering a paid queer history internship program

CHICAGO (WLS) — When Gage Park Latinx Council executive director Antonio Santos was a high school student, he wished there was a program to learn about LGBTQIA+ history.

“Growing up in Gage Park, for many years I felt like I was the only queer person in my community, which just isn’t true,” Santos said.

Now he runs the Queer Riot Internship program with the GPLXC, a grassroots organization that provides community resources and programs to residents of Gage Park.

To deliver the internship program, the council has partnered with Queer Riot, a Chicago-based educational group that offers workshops on LGBTQIA+ history.

“There are very few LGBTQIA+ youth spaces on the south and west sides of Chicago for particular people of color,” Santos said. “And I know those spaces are important for building community.”

Interns have the opportunity to learn about LGBTQIA+ history and activism through the perspectives of queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, and people of color while organizing alongside GPLXC members.

“The name Queer Riot was very intentional,” Santos said. “We knew those two words could be divisive, but LGBTQIA+ history has always been divisive. There are people who think young people shouldn’t learn about gay history.”

Queer Riot is a paid internship open to high school students. The first cohort started in April and will end in June.

“Queer history has been completely erased and kept away from the public sphere. But the few stories we get tend to be white-centric, so it was really important for us to de-center that,” said Santos.

The GPLXC flies the Pride flag all year round. Santos said he wants to empower young people to be proud of who they are and use their voice to make a difference in their communities.

“We believe in changing people’s minds and hearts with our actions and not necessarily debating with people about our right to exist,” he said.

GPLXC currently accepts applications for its next cohortwhich begins in August.

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Virginia S. Braud