Mayoral Candidate Brandon Johnson headlined a fundraiser for his campaign at Sidetrack Video Bar on March 25. The standing room only event drew a wide array of LGBTQ activists and community leaders, as well as supporters from all over the city. According to current polls, Johnson is in a dead heat with rival candidate Paul Vallas. The run-off election will be held on April 4, though citywide open voting has already started.
Sidetrack general manager Brad Balof started the event by noting that owners Art Johnston and Pepe Pena couldn't be present, as they were on tour with the documentary film Art and Pep. Activist and Morten Group CEO Mary Morten and activist, author and former political candidate Precious Brady Davis also spoke about the importance of this election.
Brady Davis said, "This is a once-in-a-generation moment where we have the opportunity to move away from the ways of machine politics that [both] benefit the few and leave the most marginalized behind. Earlier this year, I sat down with Brandon Johnson before he declared his candidacy for mayor. I was taken with his candor, his compassion, and I trust with his leadership at the helm of our city, a tale of two cities will end."
She later said, "In a moment when we are seeing LGBTQ books banned, gender-affirming care being trivialized, drag queens made as villains and Black trans people being murdered, we can't sit this one out."
Johnson then took the stage and said, "People call me radical because I love people."
He later added, "The LGBTQ community is not a community unto itself, but is just one community among many that make up Chicago. We have got to bring change to the city of Chicago and stop this history of a tale of two cities."
Johnson also quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., when he said, "We've got to figure out how to make a change here in Chicago. ... If we can figure it out in Chicago we can figure it out anywhere else in the world."
Equality Illinois CEO Brian Johnson closed out the event by appealing for financial and volunteer support for Johnson's campaign. He said, "I know you're always getting hit up for money...but if justice were free, we would have it already. We have a mayoral candidate who will move us forward instead of one who will hold us back."