Mania Supports Survivors

Gill Gillono, prepares recycle bins for this weekend's Chicago's VeganMania, in her garage in her Aurora home, on Wednesday Sept. 18, 2013.     Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune.

Gill Gillono, prepares recycle bins for this weekend’s Chicago’s VeganMania, in her garage in her Aurora home, on Wednesday Sept. 18, 2013. Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune.

OutJustice‘s outreach efforts at Saturday’s social justice festival Chicago VeganMania were a success! And the festivals leadership have shown they aren’t fooling around when it comes to their ethics – these folks are for real!

The Chicago Tribune featured the festival’s efforts to keep non-recyclable items out of the festival. That’s no small feat for a festival that brings visitors to the Windy City by the thousands. Though we don’t have this year’s numbers, approximately 4000 individuals reportedly attended VeganMania 2012. As busy as the passersby kept the OutJustice volunteers, the numbers were likely just as high if not greater.

OutJustice Executive Director Daniel Hauff recently discussed some of the similarities between the festival’s mission and OutJustice’s own. As complex individuals made up of many aspects (and quirks!), pieces of us extend far outside the particular reasons that make us each care about the integrity of the LGBTQIA community. Is it your integrity? That of a dear friend? Parent? Sibling or child? Or do you “merely” recognize the inherent truth of equality and fair treatment?

For everyone it’s different.

We don’t know the reasons for Gill Gillono – the environmental, human rights and animal protection advocate photographed and featured in the Tribune article (shown above) but what we do know is this:

Gill is not only an all around great activist and human being but she is a supporter of OutJustice’s work to assist survivors of violence.

And Gill recognizes the absolute necessity for tomorrow’s leadership to access humane education such as OutJustice’s classroom curricula.

Gay Basher Benjamin Eder openly punches victim Daniel Hauff on a Chicago train platform.

Gay Basher Benjamin Eder openly punches victim Daniel Hauff on a Chicago train platform.

Gill’s support for OutJustice can be traced to the kind words she privately expressed to gay bash survivor Daniel Hauff at an advocacy function (unrelated to queer advocacy). This interaction followed when three men attacked Daniel (who is now OutJustice’s executive director) in 2010. OutJustice didn’t exist then. It formed shortly thereafter to support him and other survivors of violence based on their sexuality or gender.

Her words – along with all of the other kind supportive gestures made by people from around the world, actually – meant the world to Daniel. And they still do.

Those words helped him to empower himself for further action to help others like him and to prevent similar violence in the future.

Daniel stood up publicly and said he would be counted when the FBI erroneously told him sexual orientation and gender were not covered by federal law.

Daniel insisted the state prosecutors look at his case and charge the three gay bashers for the crime they committed – a hate crime.

Gill’s encouraging words were powerful.

She thanked him for doing the right thing and standing up for himself and for the Queer Community (LGBTQIA).

Is Gill a one-issue gal? Heck no.

The Tribune photo shows Gill preparing to prevent unnecessary waste entering into landfills. Efforts such as Gill’s to cut this waste from landfills have a huge impact on the amount of waste produced by this festival and of course ultimately impact the earth, wildlife, and the planet we leave for future generations. As do every person’s individual efforts. They add up.

Everyone’s meaningful actions add up.

According to The Chicago Tribune:

At last year’s one-day celebration of vegan culture and cuisine, 4,000 attendees devoured almost $30,000 of vegan food — which uses no animal products — plus free samples. At the end of the day, they left behind just four kitchen-size bags of trash, said Beske.

VeganMania's John and Marla.

VeganMania’s John and Marla.

John Beske is VeganMania’s director. He’s also a longtime activist . John and his partner Marla support compassionate policies to end animal suffering and reduce humanity’s destructive use of our planet. And just like Gill, John and Marla are also supporters of OutJustice’s mission: advocating visibility and integrity for the LGBTQIA community in the face of injustice.

John and Marla’s (or is it Marla and John’s?) generosity and support led to the conversations that ultimately paid for OutJustice’s ability to reach VeganMania’s attendees with our mission – now that’s a donation indeed!

A kind word or two, such as Gill’s “thank you” to Daniel, and her encouragement, following Daniel’s painful attack and his efforts to stand up to his attackers can have more impact than the speaker can know.

It adds up.

Our actions add up.

OutJustice co-founder Elana Mendelson thanked Daniel similarly when she met him outside a Chicago courtroom. Inside the courtroom, the three men who gay bashed him were having the misdemeanor battery charges against them dismissed. Elana thanked Daniel for standing up for the first victim, for standing up for himself when the men were incorrectly charged by Chicago Police, and for pushing for the correct charges.

When “his” gay bashers exited the courtroom that day after Elana thanked Daniel, they were re-arrested in front of their families and attorneys. The charges this time were accurate: aggravated battery as a felony hate crime.

How did their charges get that elevated?

One person spoke out.

A discount. A fee waived.  Expertise given. We all have something to give.

And we all have a voice.

Chicago VeganMania 2013 event detailsMarla, John, and VeganMania showed support for OutJustice by including us Chicago VeganMania 2013. As a result, OutJustice has a list of potential volunteers from Chicago and beyond to call this week who we might never have met. OutJustice raised a respectable sum to pay for (some of!) the many costs involved in running a non-profit and assisting our clients – survivors of violence and discrimination. And our inclusion exposed socially-conscious individuals from near and far to our work.

It’s impossible to know the reach of the VeganMania crew’s support.

We have a feeling that Gill didn’t think she’d be publicly thanked for just being herself – for being kind and saying supportive words in a difficult time. [Thank you, Gill.]

And Elana likely didn’t think Daniel would take a leading role in the organization she built. [Thank you, Elana. And thanks to John, Marla, and VeganMania.]

What can YOU do to serve OutJustice’s mission?

  1. You could volunteer.
  2. You could donate much-needed funding to keep our work going.
  3. You could provide your expertise.
  4. Or, … [you tell us what you have to offer!]

Please, tell us RIGHT NOW!

One thought on “Mania Supports Survivors

  1. Pingback: Mania Supports Survivors | No More Guilt

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