Heartland Alliance has the honor of working every day with Lori Cannon, an advocate and care provider to the Chicago LGBTQ community since the 1980s. Lori was the founder of Open Hand/Chicago, now operating as Vital Bridges. She founded the organization as a response to the stigma and prejudice she saw in the community during the beginning of the AIDS crisis. For over three decades, Lori’s primary mission has been to show those living with HIV and AIDS that they are, in fact, loved.
Lori’s chose to recognize the Legacy Project’s memorial to the Pink Triangle, once a symbol used to discriminate and eventually harm LGBTQ individuals in Nazi Germany. Lori has seen the effects of stigma in the community for years, and remains resolute in her mission to fight the beast that is intolerance.
“What Hitler (and many fascists before and since) represents is the end result of intolerance that is not called out for what it is while it is still idle talk. There isn’t a tormented group in history whose fate did not begin with casually expressed bias. Left unchecked and unchallenged such biases need only the inflammatory urging of a fascist to turn simple expressions of ‘unpopular opinions’ into a systematic genocide. We are fools to think it can’t happen here.”
Lori wishes for all of us to recognize the importance of standing up for equality and justice. The community has come a long way in the past few decades, but the stability and opportunity we see today is something that must always be protected – and fought for.
“Upon reflecting on the Holocaust, and the gays within it, I see a direct line to acts of genocide all over the world. Heartland Alliance is always focused on these atrocities, including the imprisonment and murder of gay men in Chechnya and the epidemic of murder among trans women of color that happening around our own country right now.”