INDIVIDUAL | Inducted 2013

Gaylon B. Alcaraz, 42, for almost 20 years of work on behalf of women’s reproductive freedom, the interests of African American lesbian and bisexual women, adolescent health, and other social concerns. She was a founder of Affinity Community Services, a South Side social-justice group, and is the Chicago Abortion Fund’s executive director.

Gaylon Alcaraz is an activist, organizer, and human-rights advocate who currently serves as executive director of the Chicago Abortion Fund. In that role, she works to advocate for low-income women seeking to exercise the freedom to control their reproductive life. She also serves on boards of the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health and the Midwest Access Project.

Alcaraz was a founding board member of Affinity Community Services when it transformed itself from a collective to an Illinois not-for-profit agency. Affinity is an organization that advocates for the rights of black lesbian and bisexual women in the Chicago area and was inducted in 2002 as an organizational member of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. During her board tenure at Affinity, Alcaraz assumed leadership roles in all areas of the group’s work, including service as vice president of the board.

For almost 20 years, Alcaraz has worked on behalf of sexual-minority women and of efforts to combat violence, promote gender equity, heighten health access, protect reproductive rights, and address issues of race and culture. She has consistently applied her knowledge toward quality improvement, increased access, and challenges to frameworks that suppress the exploration of diversity. In so doing, she has worked for the welfare of all women, black lesbians, and children.

Alcaraz is also a writer and poet. Her book Tales of a Woojiehead appeared in 2002. She has been published in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Defender, Streetwise, and the East Coast’s Venus magazine.

Born and raised in Chicago, she received B.A. and M.A. degrees from DePaul University in 2008 and 2011. She was a member of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations’ former Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues, and she has been an active member or officer of numerous groups, including the Ogden Corners Resident Council, the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, United Sisters (US), and the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

Honoring her work for reproductive rights, health, and justice, she has received awards from the Chicago and the Northwest and Northwest Suburban Illinois chapters of the National Organization for Women; Choice USA; and the Chicago Foundation for Women.