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Chicago Is Hosting an LGBT Job Fair and Every City Needs to Follow Suit


Finding and keeping work remains perilous for many LGBT people. But an event in one of the nation's biggest cities is helping queer folks find employment and climb the ladder.

While studies show that many people believe LGBTQ people are a protected class when it comes to employment, more than half of U.S. states do not have antidiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. In addition, "right to work" laws actually make it easy to fire in many states without any cause. Laws can only protect so much when a group is "outside" the mainstream.

And the further a person is outside that mainstream, the more difficult it is to get a job, and hold down a job in a conservative work environment. This is true for LGBT youth who have experienced homelessness, for the transgender community, and for LGBTQ seniors.

In Chicago we put together a job fair in 2014 just focused on youth who had experienced homelessness. More than 100 people showed up to hear from experts and turn in resumes for potential work. This year we decided to expand the job fair to be for all LGBTQ people and allies, and we have more than 70 companies, nonprofits, and governmental organizations seeking employees in Illinois.

We wanted our mainstream colleagues to feel welcome, because our community does not discriminate, even if we experience discrimination ourselves. We are trying to provide a resource for jobs at all levels, from those first entering the workforce to senior manager to part-time work for seniors.

Our community is a reflection of mainstream society. That means we can't play into the stereotype that we are all wealthy, white, and young. We have very vulnerable populations within, and we have to make sure we look at the "whole life" of our community. We all have a true right to work and to find work that feeds our soul while also paying our bills.

This event is hosted by Windy City Times with Center on Halsted, Pride Action Tank, Chicago House, Association of Latino/as Motivating Action, Affinity Community Services, TransTech Social Enterprises, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Out & Equal Chicagoland, Lambda Legal, LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois, Northalsted Business Alliance, and the Human Rights Campaign, with additional support from Ann Sather Restaurant.

Confirmed exhibitors, in addition to the sponsors, include AARP; About Face Theatre; AIDS Healthcare Foundation; AON; AT&T Aunt Martha's Health & Wellness; Blue Plate Catering; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma & Texas; BMO Harris Bank; Chicago Commission on Human Relations; Chicago Marriott; Chicago Women in Trades; Christy Webber Landscapes; Cook County Health and Hospitals System; Department of Children and Family Services; Elevate Energy; Experis/Manpower Group; Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; Gap Inc. and Old Navy; Goode Plumbing; Google; Groupon; Heartland Alliance; Hilton Worldwide; Howard Brown Health; Hyatt Corporation;, sponsored by Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity; The John Marshall Law School; KPMG; Lyric Opera; Mariano's; MB Financial Bank; Metropolitan Family Services; Morningstar; Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago; Navy Pier; Northern Trust PLC; Northwestern Department of Medical Social Sciences; Pace Suburban Bus Company; Paul Mitchell The School; Planned Parenthood of Illinois; Primerica; Redbox; Renewal Care; The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago; Roxy Insurance; Senior Helpers; Speciality's Cafe & Bakery; State of Illinois Department of Rehabilitation; Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A.; Test Positive Aware Network; Thresholds; TransUnion; Trunk Club; Uber; United Airlines; Uptake; Vienna Beef; Walgreen Co./Walgreens; WBEZ; Z-axis Factory; and Zurich North America

The job fair will be held Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Center on Halsted. Find out more here.

TRACY BAIM is the publisher and executive editor of Windy City Times.

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