elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Larry McKeon & Ray Korzinski

Larry McKeon (June 30, 1944 – May 13, 2008) was an American politician who served as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives from Chicago. Serving from January 1997 to January 2007, he was the first-ever openly gay member of the Illinois General Assembly and was also HIV-positive. Ray Korzinski represents the great love of McKeon’s life: the couple met in Chicago in the ’80s. Both had recently fled abusive, alcoholic relationships; both were in recovery; and both were hauling some heavy baggage. Korzinski had been largely ostracized by his immediate family, McKeon recalls. After the two men had lived together for five years, Korzinski tested positive for HIV. The virus complicated Korzinski’s bout with a rare form of lymphoma, which he attributed to exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange in Vietnam. Korzinski died 12 weeks after learning that he was infected with HIV. It was during those last few weeks of Korzinski’s life that McKeon discovered that he, too, was HIV-positive. “He felt a lot of guilt,” McKeon said. “He thought he had it and passed it to me. We talked about it before he died. “It doesn’t matter who did what, or when. It just is.”

McKeon died at the age of 63 in Springfield, Illinois, after suffering a stroke. Following his death, numerous political figures issued statements praising his life and achievements, including U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

He held degrees from California State University at Los Angeles and completed some doctoral work at the University of Chicago. A veteran of the United States Army, McKeon had been a lieutenant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department before moving to Chicago.

McKeon was elected to the House in 1996 from a Chicago district then-numbered the 34th and was sworn in the following January. He served on the committees on Labor, Aging, and several other subjects. During the 2002 redistricting, his district became the 13th.

In July 2006, he announced his intention to retire from the legislature at the end of his term in January 2007. As he had already won the March 2006 Democratic primary election without opposition and thus had become the party's nominee for re-election, it fell to the five Democratic ward committeemen in his district to select a replacement nominee, who would run with no Republican opponent in the November 2006 general election. They selected the openly gay (and openly HIV-positive) Greg Harris.

Many of McKeon's campaigns won the backing of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_McKeon

Further Readings:

Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community by Tracy Baim
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Agate Surrey (September 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1572841001
ISBN-13: 978-1572841000
Amazon: Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community
Amazon Kindle: Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community

Out and Proud in Chicago takes readers through the long and rich history of the city's LGBT community. Lavishly illustrated with color and black-and white-photographs, the book draws on a wealth of scholarly, historical, and journalistic sources. Individual sections cover the early days of the 1800s to World War II, the challenging community-building years from World War II to the 1960s, the era of gay liberation and AIDS from the 1970s to the 1990s, and on to the city's vital, post-liberation present.

More LGBT History at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Gay Classics

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Tags: days of love tb

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