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Democratic National Convention will be a celebration of diversity in Chicago, say queer staff

 Illinois rainbow gay pride flag tucked into suit pocket celebrate LGBTQ rights
Scott Olson/Getty Images

The convention will be a demonstration of all sorts of diversity, organizers say.

Cwnewser

As theDemocratic National Convention approaches, set to take place inChicago from August 19-22, an undercurrent of inclusivity runs through its planning stages.

According to a convention spokesperson, over 20 percent of the Democratic National Convention Committee staff identify asLGBTQ+, with five department directors among them. This is not just a statistical footnote; it’s a deliberate manifestation of the Democratic Party’s values of diversity and inclusion, the organizers say.

Senior director for communications Matt Hill is one of the key architects of this inclusive vision. Hill has a storied history with the President Joe Biden's team, having served as a spokesperson on Biden’s 2020 campaigns and as a senior spokesperson for the Biden Presidential Inaugural Committee. His role now involves overseeing thepress, surrogates, and studio teams, ensuring that the convention’s narrative is crafted and disseminated effectively.

“We are changing a lot of the ways we do things here at the convention to make sure we have the opportunities for the Democratic family to create content and meet people where they are,” Hill explained in an interview with The Advocate. His team’s efforts include welcoming 15,000 media members to Chicago and providing equal access to content creators. Hill’s strategy is forward-thinking, aiming to integrate traditional media with digital influencers to reach a broader audience.

Then there’s Liz Stovall, the venue technology project manager. Managing everything from construction to printing, Stovall is also the heartbeat behind ChiPride, the DNCC’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group. “I’ve been a leader in the queer community for years, and stepping into this role felt like a natural progression,” she shared with The Advocate.

ChiPride is more than just a resource group; it’s a sanctuary for support, advocacy, and shared experiences. Under Stovall’s leadership, it’s become a beacon of inclusivity within the DNCC, Stovall said.

“There’s a lot of desire to make people feel like they belong here,” Stovall said.

The convention’s commitment to LGBTQ+ representation extends to its business partnerships. Revel Global Events, a local women and LGBTQ+-owned business, has been tapped to manage the convention’s events, showcasing the best of Chicago’s vibrant enterprise scene. Additionally, the Chicago 2024 Host Committee is championing local LGBTQ+ businesses through a meticulously curated vendor directory and venue map.

Participants carry rainbow balloons 51st LGBTQ Pride Parade Chicago IllinoisKAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Stovall is a proud Chicagoan and an advocate for the city’s rich queer history. “Chicago hosted the first Pride parade, and our Gerber/Hart Library and Archives is a treasure trove of our history,” she said.

Other notable LGBTQ+ staff members include Gino Generelli, the lead systems administrator with over 20 years of experience in the Apple technology ecosystem and Chicago’s small business community. Mario Parker-Milligan, the associate director for constituency & allied groups, hails from Portland, where he managed the state party’s caucuses and constituency groups. He has extensive experience in student voter registration and progressive candidate recruitment. Damon Ngô, associate director for allied group outreach, previously managed coalitions at the Democratic National Committee, focusing on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders and youth and climate outreach and engagement.

Hill and his team are not just resting on their laurels but innovating. “We are creating state-of-the-art studios inside the United Center, where surrogates can talk to battleground state press, content creators, or tape their digital content,” Hill explained. This forward-thinking approach is designed to meet audiences where they are, making the convention’s message more accessible than ever.

The stakes are high, and the DNCC is poised to deliver a narrative that underscores the achievements of the Biden administration, particularly its pro-LGBTQ+ policies. “This administration is the most pro-LGBTQ in history, and we’re proud to showcase that,” Hill asserted. The convention will highlight past accomplishments and draw a stark contrast with the opposing party’s stance on important issues, including LGBTQ+ issues.

The Biden-Harris administration has a notable track record on LGBTQ+ rights, including signing comprehensive executive orders to prevent discrimination, reversing the ban on transgender service members, and signing the Respect for Marriage Act. The administration also established the White House Gender Policy Council and appointed the first LGBTQ+ Cabinet member, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Biden’s team put forth ADM Rachel Levine as the first transgender person confirmed by the Senate to an administration position and appointedKarine Jean-Pierre as White House Press Secretary.

Volunteers are being called upon to join this historic effort. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Stovall said. “Being part of the DNC, especially with such high stakes, is truly remarkable.”

Hill said the DNCC’s inclusive approach and innovative strategies promise to make the Democratic National Convention in Chicago a landmark event.

“It’s your chance to be a part of history, especially since the stakes are so high with this election,” said Stovall.

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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).