Illinois Activist and
Cook County State's Attorney's Lesbigay Liaison
Gay & Lesbian Hall of Fame Inductee 1993
who came out in
1969, is credited with running the city's first unofficial gay
community center out of her South Side apartment, offering
support and a place to stay to innumerable gays and lesbians who
came to her for help.
Gray was also among the
first group of Black women and their families who came together
at the Belmont Rocks in the 1970s for an informal picnic during
the Pride Parade. What began with a few families has grown to
become the second-largest African American gathering in the
Vernita Gray has served
Chicago's lesbian and gay community with distinction for over 20
years. She was an early activist serving lesbians and gay men in
Chicago's African American community since the late 1960's.
attending Woodstock and learning of the existence of the "gay
liberation" movement she returned to Chicago and began
organizing support groups at local colleges, and with friends,
organized and hosted in her home support groups for lesbians. In
1969 she participated in the development of a telephone hotline
at her home for members of Chicago's gay and lesbian community.
With her well known sense of humor, the hotline telephone number
was FBI-LIST. Interest in the support groups and hotline was so
intense that Grey eventually had to vacate her apartment to
obtain a modicum of privacy and peace of mind.
the the hostility in the African American community towards
lesbians and gay men her activities were undertaken at some
Gray was instrumental in
forming the first Lesbian Caucus of the nascent Gay Liberation
organization in the early 1970's and the first Chicago lesbian
newspaper Lavendar Woman.
Chicago business owner for
11 years operating the "Sol Sands" restaurant and a company
developing audio visual materials for children.
A Graduate of Columbia
College with a degree in creative writing and communications
Gray has published Sweet Sixteen, a volume of her own poetry and
currently working on a novel.
Vernita Gray has had a
consistent presence in Chicago's gay and lesbian community and
continues to be a highly regarded role model and an articulate
and effective spokesperson for lesbian and gay concerns.
Her organizational affiliations include IMPACT
Mountain Moving Coffee House.