In Memoriam: Lois Bates

Lois Bates, a community activist, and transgender health manager at Howard Brown Health Center, died of kidney failure on Nov 17, 2011.

“I’m at a loss for words right’s now, it’s a huge loss for the entire LGBT community particularly for the transgender community,” says Keith Green, Director of Federal Affairs, AIDS Foundation of Chicago. “Lois had a clear understanding of the issues that affected the transgendered community and could articulate those thoughts well. And now her voice is gone, it’s a loss for the entire LGBT community as a whole. “

Bates, a longtime fixture in Chicago’s LGBT community, was co-founder of the Chicago Transgender Coalition. She has worked with several community service organizations including as operations manager for the Minority Outreach Intervention Project, and as board member and vice president of Chicago’s two Black Gay Pride organizations. Bates was also a minister at the Pillar of Love Fellowship United Church of Christ.

Gregory Norells, whom worked alongside Bates at the Minority Outreach Intervention Project and Windy City Black Pride, commented on the loss. “Every young activist in the city knew of Lois and her good spirit. Her motives were always clear, to nurture. She had a vested interest to nurture all.”

Dream Girls Pageantry Systems promoter Antonio King, serenaded Bates and brought her to tears at the Phil Esteem/Chicago Black Gay Pride Awards in 2006. King, whom recognized Bates for her contributions to the transgender community this past summer at his annual pageant, said “Lois was the most compassionate and genuine person I’ve ever met in my entire life.”

Bates’ Facebook page is full of posts from well wishes offering their thoughts of the community activist they include:

“Such a tremendous lost to our community! Lois, thanks for touching lives across the country especially mine many years ago and never change WHO and WHAT you were to ME. My sister, my friend, rest in peace,” said Vicky Valentino.

“You will surely be missed Lois! You were a great friend and mentor to so many in the community! You will always be loved and never be forgotten! May you rest in peace,” said Lady Tajma Hall.

Joy Morris, Executive Director of TransActions Chicago and the 2011 Esteem Award finalist for Outstanding Service – Transgender,  issued the following statement on Monday afternoon. “Lois Bates dedicated her entire life to improving and empowering the lives of others,” Morris said. “She was a mentor and friend to not just Chicago but to the nation. Lois, thanks for a job well done, many are called, few are chosen, RIP.”

Jamal Edwards, Howard Brown Health Center’s CEO and 2011 Esteem Award finalist for Outstanding Service – Male, dedicated his award to Bates. “She really speaks to me about what I think is important about Howard Brown,” said Edwards at’s Esteem Awards, annual event which took place this past summer. The organization issued the following statement on its website. ” Howard Brown is saddened by the loss of our valued colleague, Lois Bates, Manager of Transgender Health Services. Please join us in honoring Lois’ work at Transgender Day of Remembrance at 6:30pm on Sunday November 20, at Center on Halsted (3656 N. Halsted, Chicago). “

Connie Dupree, Bates’ best friend, whom talked to Bates for hours on the telephone weighed in on the loss. “Lois was a great friend, a sister, an inspiration to me. She was so much a part of my family that part of me is gone,” said Dupree.”She will be greatly missed but she’s in a better place.”

PrideIndex will continue to update this story as additional information become available.