Stephen Weiser

Survey


1) Birthdate:

1951


2) Birthplace:

Fall River, Massachusetts


3) Date you first mark as getting together with your partner Andrew Deppe:

October 1993


4) City/state where you live currently:

Chicago/Uptown


5) Education:

Boston University (BA,1973)
Washington University (JD/ Juris Doctor, St. Louis, 1978)
DePaul University Law School (LLM/Master of Laws, 1983)


6) Careers:

Assistant General Counsel, Blue Cross Blue Shield Illinois


7) Did you serve in the U.S. military?

Absolutely not.


8) How do you describe your sexuality and gender?

Gay male. Politically I identify as gay, but my sexual orientation is bisexual.


9) Do you have children and/or grandchildren?

Our adopted son Silvano Vanegas was born in 1983. He’s now married to Krystal Clouse and living in South Haven, Michigan.


10) What troubles did you face as a GLBT person?

I always had a sense I was different, and was always interested in the male body from three years old. I did not realize I was gay until I was 19, at which point I underwent a very homophobic and fearful period until I was 21.


11) Did you have mentors in the Chicago GLBT community?

Elaine Noble [the first openly lesbian or gay person elected to a state legislature in the U.S.] during my Boston days, during the period between 1973 and 1975.

Also Jim Kelleher, now diseased; he was a well-known alcohol/substance abuse counselor at Grant Hospital and served the recovery community in general.


12) Involvement in organizations (GLBT and/or mainstream):

Chicago Frontrunners (I co-founded together with Peg Grey and two other guys. I initiated the traditional Tuesday and Saturday after-run breakfasts as well.)

Congregation Or Chadash (Donor; and member since 1980; board member from about 1999-2005; co-president 2004 and 2005.)

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund (donor)

Center on Halsted (donor)

Sexual Compulsives Anonymous/SCA (In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s I was very involved in the LGBT efforts in groups promoting the recovery from sex addiction. I was one of the founding members of the Chicago chapter of Sexual Compulsives Anonymous/SCA and was one of the founders of the first SCA meeting on Monday nights as the New Town Alano Club.)


13) When you were coming out, what were your favorite Chicago GLBT bars?

I came out in Boston, but when I came to Chicago I went to the Bistro, the Gold Coast, the New Flight, Carol’s Coming out Pub near Halsted and Fullerton, and the Bushes.


14) What were the key issues faced in the GLBT community when you first came out?

When I first came out it was immediate post-Stonewall. So it was the time of the Lavender Revolution.


15) What issues do you see as key in the GLBT community today?

Gay marriage and the epidemic of crystal meth.


16) How have AIDS and/or other health issues impacted your life personally?

Many of my friends died; too numerous to mention all. But the most significant were the first love of my life, Dennis Benoit, and my dear friend Hank Jones, who was a leader in the Recovery Community.


17) How would you describe the “diversity” within the Chicago GLBT community?

LGBT people are divided along class, gender, and racial lines as the rest of the population; however, in some cases, sex and romance can bring us together across these lines.

The great thing about coming out in the ‘70s was that there were not a lot of bars or much choice. So it was a true melting pot.


18) If you consider yourself a “political” activist, how do you define this?

I would not say I have ever been a political activist until Bush II started the war in Iraq. I have never been as politically involved as I am now.


19) Describe what you feel your personal legacy is to the Chicago GLBT community.

The formation of Chicago Frontrunners and my contributions to the LGBT Jewish Community. I also served as a volunteer attorney in the early years of AIDS Legal Counsel.


20) This project is also about “defining moments.” Please discuss some of those in your life.

My attendance at the first New England Gay Conference in 1973 and my life with Andrew.




Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community, the book is edited by Tracy Baim and features the contributions of more than 20 prominent historians and journalists. It is published by Surrey Books, an Agate imprint, and is hard cover, 224 pages, 4-color, with nearly 400 photos.
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