Remembering Chicago journalist Paul Varnell
 

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posted Friday, December 16, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 50

Remembering Chicago journalist Paul Varnell
by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

My friend Paul Varnell, the well-known syndicated Gay journalist, has died.

Paul was one of the most independent persons I ever have known. It wasn't easy to get close to him, and I figure I got as far as anyone did. He was a journalist, he was an opinion columnist, he was a thinker, he was a libertarian and, I think, a Libertarian, he was an intellectual. He liked classical music and opera, he was a voracious reader. His columns raised the intelligence quotient of all the Gay papers he appeared in. He was an activist with the Illinois Gay & Lesbian Task Force and other entities.

He and I, as a journalistic exercise, tried to get a marriage license in Cook County - in 1989! And when rebuffed, we filed human-rights complaints with the city and the state. We lost. We claimed sex discrimination but they told us it was sexual-orientation discrimination and that that wasn't illegal at that time in Illinois. The Sun-Times made a big story of our little effort. We turned down an invite to appear on Oprah. I suppose everyone is unique, but Paul was unlike anyone I've ever known. I think it was the degree of his independence and the degree of his self-sufficiency that stood out. He had very specific ideas about how he wanted to live his life - and that is exactly how he lived it, each day and without compromise.



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