A Message from Anna DeShawn: Affinity’s New Board President

A Message from Anna DeShawn: Affinity’s New Board President

To say I’m honored to be the new Board President of Affinity Community Services is an understatement. Affinity has been a cornerstone in the Chicago LGBTQ community for nearly 22 years and she continues to thrive. Back in 2002 I was introduced to Affinity through the XPU drop-in program. This was a drop in specially for young people. I was nervous and hesitate but Renisha, Peaches, & Felicia welcomed me with open arms.

All of us have an Affinity story. Some are funny, some make us cry, but all of them remind us how important Affinity is to our lives. Affinity is the common thread that binds us together.

I wanted to take a few moments and share my Affinity story with you.

I grew up on the Southside of Chicago where I was unsure if being my authentic self would be fully accepted. As I grew up and went off to predominantly white universities I longed for a larger community that looked like me and shared similar values. Thank God for Google. I searched for black lesbians in Chicago and found Affinity.

I was away at school and every break I would tell myself all types of reasons why I couldn’t go. What if someone sees me? What if my parents find out? What if.. well eventually I stopped the what if’s and just went. The XPU drop-in was happening and I was going to go. I did and 12 years later I’m still here.

When Kim asked me to join the Board there were two questions I kept asking myself, “What if Affinity didn’t exist?” and “What am I doing to help sustain it?” The “what if” questions came back and really hit home. What if Affinity didn’t exist? What if the founders & initial supporters weren’t brave enough to demand space and visibility for Black lesbians on the Southside. What if Affinity had to close and I didn’t do my part to help sustain it. I wrote Kim back and started the process of becoming a Board member. I’m still here and if you’re reading this you are here with us.

You are Affinity. I am Affinity. We are Affinity and we need you to be an active participant in the sustainment of the organization. We need your time, talent, and treasures. Make the decision to give today. Your continued support is what makes us great!

I’m Anna DeShawn and #IAmAffinity.
President, Board of Directors

p.s. Feel free to leave me a comment or email me directly at anna.deshawn at affinity95 dot org. I’d love to hear from you.