Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker will received the Ruth Ellis Award at the Coalition of Rainbow Alliances’ (CORAL) Ritz gala in March.
Ruth Ellis, a Springfield native, was a Black lesbian activist in the early 20th century. Born in 1899, she came out as lesbian at 16. Moving to Detroit with her partner in 1936, they turned their home into a refuge for Black LGBTQ youth before the Civil Rights Movement and Stonewall. Detroit’s Ruth Ellis Center, which continues to provide shelter and aid for LGBTQ youth in Detroit, was named in her honor.
This is the first year that CORAL has given the award. The organization said that Priztker is receiving the award because changes he’s made in state government and pro-LGBTQ legislation he has signed. He has also embraced the community, appearing at LGBTQ events and flying the Pride flag on the Statehouse and Governor’s Mansion.
CORAL also wanted to recognized the governor for his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying his decisions had helped protect Illinois residents, including members of the LGBTQ community.