LGBTQ+ community gifts seniors Valentine’s Day cards

Patrons of Replay make Valentine’s cards for seniors living at the Town Hall apartments (Photo by Jo MaMa)

By Yvonne Krumrey
Medill Reports

“Roses are red, crystals are shiny, I hope this is the best V-Day you have ever seen. This year is crazy, but I am happy if you are happy,” reads a card written by a second-grader, to someone he’s never met.

His card was one of 200 that were delivered to LGBTQ seniors in Chicago last weekend, through the Chicago Black Drag Council’s Valentine’s Day card drive at the LGBTQ+ supporting Town Hall Apartments, 3600 N. North Halsted St., in Lakeview.

The council paired with Our Art of Giving, a nonprofit that brings comfort items to those in need, and five Halsted bars — Roscoe’s, Replay, Sidetrack, Scarlet and Progress Bar — to orchestrate safe drop-off locations for those wanting to contribute.

Replay, 3439 N. Halsted St., offered free Truly’s hard seltzer for people who brought in cards. Progress Bar, 3359 N. Halsted St., laid out craft supplies for patrons to make cards while having a drink.

On Feb. 5, Jo MaMa, a Chicago drag queen and co-chair of the Chicago Black Drag Council, tweeted a picture of a poster that reads, “Awaken your inner artist and create a unique Valentine’s Day card for a local LGBTQIA+ senior!” When asked what the requirements for the cards are, she suggested that crafters simply use “compassionate common sense.”

“Senior members of our community are often overlooked and have been hardest hit during this pandemic,” said Jo MaMa. “Loneliness is such a big thing, and especially as you get older, it becomes even harder to reach out to the community and forge new bonds.”

While seniors struggle to forge bonds during the coronavirus pandemic, children at Bennett Day School in West Town delivered some warmth to Town Hall’s LGBTQ+ seniors.

Derry MacDermott, a second grade teacher at Bennett, used class time as an opportunity to decorate cards for the seniors.

“We have a quiet time everyday after recess, and I play some calming music,” MacDermott said. “And today we wrote letters.

“Nothing is better than an 8-year-old spewing love garbage from their mouth,” MacDermott said.
On Friday, nearly 200 cards were collected from the bars on Halsted and delivered to Town Hall’s doorstep in time for Valentine’s Day.

“Hopefully this will lead to some connections to emphasize that bond, and hopefully get some communication going that will be long-lasting beyond just this one event,” Jo MaMa said.

“Everybody loves their grandma and grandpa, and we have them here in our community, so let’s make them smile.”

Yvonne Krumrey covers social justice at Medill. You can follow her on Twitter at @yvonnekrumrey.