HYDE PARK — Brave Space Alliance, a Black- and trans-led organization based in Hyde Park, has supported thousands of Chicagoans throughout the pandemic. Now, back in-person, they’re full steam ahead into the summer with two new murals, renovations and new programs that continue to serve those in need.
The murals, unveiled Friday at an event DJ’d by Ariel Zetina, were designed over the course of roughly three months by Saúl Rodriguez, a Chicago-based muralist. One mural memorialized Mistress Velvet, a beloved activist for sex workers’ rights and dominatrix, who died in May. Velvet served on Brave Space Alliance’s original board.
The other mural depicts a number of respected LGBTQ+ leaders and activists in Chicago, including Brave Space Alliance co-founders LaSaia Wade and Stephanie Skora.
“These murals are about making sure that trans folks are documented,” said Brave Space Alliance Director of Communications Jae Rice. “Trans kids 30 years from now will be able to look at that and know that they will be remembered. It’s important for us to see people like me — Black folks, trans folks — in murals like this.”
Rodriguez, the artist, said the process was largely about giving back to Brave Space Alliance and to the community.
“It was all heart,” Rodriguez said. “This is so people know they have a safe space, a space where they know they can express who they are. It’s about knowing there are leaders in the community.”
The mural unveiling was also an opportunity for people to see the alliance’s new office renovations, including a 50 percent expansion to its food pantry space, expanded lobby space and the addition of the gender-affirming makeup room and The Den, where Brave Space Alliance will give out binders, underwear and hold trans-masculine support groups.
“We’re just really excited to have a beautiful, fully functional state-of-the-art office that our community can enjoy and that our work can be conducted in,” said Associate Executive Director Stephanie Skora. “Our community doesn’t deserve anything less than the best.”
Brave Space Alliance, located at 1515 E. 52nd Place, also launched its telehealth mental health program, where qualifying community members will be able to access telehealth services through partnering organizations PsySynergy and My Own Doctor.
“That’s a really exciting partnership. We’re going to be able to start serving people soon,” Skora said.
Brave Space Alliance will be continuing other programs, such as its hot meal giveaways every Tuesday as well as its food pantry and support groups for Black and trans individuals.
Looking ahead, it will also start a new round of renovations this fall.
“The second part of the renovation is expanding the space,” Skora said. “It’ll make sure that the whole office looks the same, and it’s also adding a computer lab to the space.”
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.