|Kit Duffy in April.|
This post is a revised and extended version of what I posted on my personal Facebook.
Kit had recently had heart surgery and had several complications. One of her friends visited her in hospital and posted updates to Kit’s timeline, which meant all her friends could be kept up to date. Things didn’t seem to be going well, and I feared that she might not make it. She apparently died peacefully, which is what we all hope for when our time comes.
I met Kit when Chicago's Mayor Harold Washington appointed her as his liaison to the city's LGBT communities, and through her work she practically copyrighted the term "straight ally". Since I was a grassroots LGBT activist at the time, our paths crossed MANY times. We had a lot of wonderful chats during those years, and I learned so much from her: She wasn't just a friend, she was an important mentor, as she was for so many activists in that era.
More recently, we reconnected on Facebook, as I have with so many old friends, and we shared a lot of fun and laughs along the way. I am so very grateful for that, and so sad that we never had the chance to meet up again in real life.
She was a very important part of the struggle for the civil and human rights of LGBT Chicagoans, and throughout the state. "Kit's fingerprints are on almost everything we have in the gay community in Illinois today," another former activist colleague, Rick Garcia, said for Kit’s obituary in Windy City Times. "I really think that she is the midwife of the successes we have in Illinois,” he added. I agree.
She was a friend to so many, and she was respected even by people who disagreed with her politics, which is a testament to her, I think, and so very rare these days. She was one of a kind, and I honestly don't think we'll see someone like her again.
I'll miss Kit terribly, but I'm happy that she didn't suffer.
Farewell, my friend—and thank you for everything.
The photo of Kit above is a cropped version of a photo she posted on Facebook last April, as she took part of Chicago’s mayoral election. She remained true to her progressive politics and values to the very end.
See also: “Kit Duffy, liaison for change”, part of Windy City Times’ AIDS@30 series.