CHICAGO--Tracy Baim is a walking talking gay rights encyclopedia.
“These are just really fun for me to go through because I wrote a lot of these stories; I took a lot of these photos.”
Her home, filled with memories from her more than 30 years of experience as a story teller.
Baim is the co-founder of the Windy City Times.
The newspaper is a trusted outlet for Chicago’s gay and lesbian community.
“It’s a very complex community to cover which is more reason why we exist. It’s very difficult for the mainstream to get that kind of depth on any one story.”
Andrew Davis, Managing Editor: “There’s so many aspects to the LGBT community that are often ignored. So i think this paper gives a voice.”
Baim’s journalism career took off in the 1980s. It was a trying time for the LGBT community as the aids crisis dominated media coverage.
The disease was killing thousands of young, gay men.
“You’re planning protests, and you’re planning funerals at the same time. And you’re in your 20s. That only can be compared to war.”
Her in-depth reporting put a spotlight on its devastating effects-- stories that were often ignored by the mainstream media.
“Even the gay rights stories were informed by aids because there were no legal protections for that partner.”
“I think the most important thing we can do is empower the community as a voice. Telling the stories of the people who passed away. Telling the stories of activists.”
After witnessing tragedy…time and time again, Baim herself turned to activism. And when Illinois’ same sex marriage bill was in the balance – her dedication paid off.
“In 2013 when the marriage bill in Illinois was stalling I got really frustrated, wrote a really angry editorial saying why didn’t this happen. One of the things people said back to me was what could be done differently? I said what if we did a march on Springfield? Getting 5,000 people to Springfield for LGBT rights, nobody, almost nobody thought would happen. It was a near impossible task.”
Shortly after the march same sex marriage finally became legal.
And while that major hurdle was crossed, Baim is still hard at work as a champion for the gay community… and helping others make their dreams a reality.
Karen Hawkins: “She was a woman who dared to be in gay media. It was all boys then. That’s a really huge reason she’s an inspiration. She gave so many writers a chance to express themselves and she’s covered so much about the community at a time when nobody else was.”
Andrew Davis: “Without her i wouldn’t be where i am. I’m just beyond grateful for the opportunity.”
You can see original copies of the windy city times, and other memorabilia at this weekend’s “creating change conference” at the Hilton Chicago.
Tracy Baim. She’s one of Chicago’s Very Own.
To find the windy city times on the web, go to http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/
For information on the creating change conference go to https://www.creatingchange.org/