Since its inception in 1989, OPALGA has become one of the largest community based, multipurpose lesbian and gay membership organizations in Illinois.
OPALGA produces and sponsors a vast array of regular events and activities aimed at the Oak Park area LGBTQ community and our families and friends. These events are essential to our success and represent an important part of our programming. Our premiere event is the OPAL Gala, which is our annual fundraising banquet. This event gives us an opportunity to celebrate our association and to recognize the outstanding efforts of those in the community who support us.
The mission of the Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association is:
- to promote positive attitudes and advocate for full equality for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community of the greater Oak Park area;
- to promote institutional change through positive efforts to educate public and private bodies;
- to provide opportunities for sharing information and resources among its membership;
- to provide educational, social and cultural opportunities for its members;
- to celebrate the contributions that the Organization and its members make to the welcoming communities of the greater Oak Park area.
Founded in 1989, OPALGA became one of the largest community-based, multipurpose lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) membership organizations in Illinois, boasting membership from Oak Park, the surrounding suburbs, and Chicago. Now in its third decade, OPALGA has evolved into an organization that functions as a benefactor, using its fundraising capacity to benefit other organizations that provide direct programming or advocacy services to the LGBTQ community.
- Raises funds to benefit organizations and agencies providing direct services to the LGBTQ community. Recipients include PFLAG (local chapter), PCC Community Wellness Center (Aids Prevention Program), Howard Brown Health Center (Lesbian Community Care Project and Broadway Youth Center), and the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance.
- Sponsors and produces social and cultural events aimed at the greater Oak Park community, such as coffeehouses, periodic theatre or restaurant outings, meet and greet encounters, picnics, art and house walks.
- Hosts monthly potlucks to which members and guests bring a dish to share and enjoy social interaction.
- Provides diversity and anti-hate public forums with local community organizations.
- Coordinates education, outreach and training for members and assists other local groups and organizations in this capacity.
- Maintains communications with OPALGA members through its website, Facebook, regular e-blasts, and periodic mailings.
- Succeeded in having the Village of Oak Park’s Human Rights Ordinance amended to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment (by Village and Village contractors), housing and public accommodations.
- Proposed and supported the Village of Oak Park extending Domestic Partnership Benefits to same-sex partners of Village employees.
- Proposed and supported the passing of a Domestic Partnership Registry for same-sex couples in Oak Park. This was the first of its kind in Illinois and became a model for other communities to develop their own.
- Worked with and educated Oak Park and River Forest High School administrators to amend it