News, Wit & Commentary for Lesbians
JIC Post:By Lorene YueChicago Tribune A conservative Illinois Christian group is once again chastising a corporation for sponsoring the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago.The Illinois Family Institute in Glen Ellyn is squaring off against Walgreen Co. for its $100,000 contribution to Olympic-style games to be held in July. Walgreens joins PlanetOut Inc., which runs an online network for the gay community and the national gay television network Q Television, as a Platinum-level sponsor of the event.The Illinois Family Institute recently attacked Harris Bank and Kraft Foods for each contributing $25,000 to the Gay Games VII."The Gay Games are about homosexuality, and I think it's wrong for Walgreens to sponsor it," said Peter LaBarbera, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute. "They've taken the step of becoming an official sponsor, which is putting the Walgreens name to endorsing this event."LaBarbera wants Walgreens to rescind its funding; otherwise he will encourage members of his group to consider boycotting the drugstore chain."There are a lot of prochoice people who don't like the idea of shopping at Walgreens if they are supporting the Gay Games," he said.Walgreens officials said they are participating in the Gay Games to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS. The company's pharmacists have been serving HIV-positive patients since the early 1980s, said Michael Polzin, Walgreens spokesman."Each year, we raise millions of dollars in our stores for research education and building awareness for heart disease, diabetes and cancer," he said. "This is one way of giving back to the community."LaBarbera said he has no problem with AIDS awareness and education, but he takes issue with a company providing funds to support the event."If they want to donate HIV drugs, that's one thing," LaBarbera said. "Homosexual behavior itself is a leading cause of HIV."The Gay Games will be an eight-day event held throughout Chicago. More than 10,000 athletes are expected to compete. Chicago officials expect about 100,000 spectators to attend.Chicago, one of the original bidders for the 2006 games, became the host city when negotiations to hold the event in Montreal failed last year. Since then, Chicago Games Inc. has been scrambling to raise the $9 million needed to hold the event. Chicago Games officials said they are nearly halfway to their goal of raising $1 million from corporate sponsors.The backlash from conservative groups hasn't hurt fundraising, said Tracy Baim, co-vice chair of Chicago Games."They keep doing this, and corporate America keeps coming," said Baim, who is also publisher of the Windy City Times, an alternative newspaper. "When we meet with [potential] sponsors, we are very upfront with being targeted by the IFI. It brings a higher visibility to the discrimination we face."
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