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Everyone still counts at CORAL’s Ritz

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Springfield’s Coalition of Rainbow Alliances (CORAL) held its Ritz gala after a two-year hiatus on Saturday, March 26.

The event drew a record crowd, with more than 300 people attending. The Ritz is an annual celebration of the Springfield and Central Illinois LGBTQ community. Each year community awards are given out. Since the the gala was suspended for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, two years worth of awards were given this year.

The honorees are:

2020 Community Service Awards
Ruth Ann Bertram
Lee Korty

2021 Community Service Awards
Roz Stein
Rex Shadow

2022 Community Service Awards
Sunshine Clemons
Rob Weis

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker was given the Ruth Ellis Award.

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. Before the Ritz, the organization said that Priztker received 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.

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