Andy Thayer

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Andy Thayer
Born (1960-05-01) May 1, 1960 (age 64)
OccupationPolitical activist
WebsiteGay Liberation Network

Andy Thayer (born May 1, 1960) is an American socialist, LGBTQ rights and anti-war activist. He is co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network, one of the largest LGBTQ direction-action groups in Chicago.[1] He is also the co-founder of Chicago Coalition Against War & Racism.[2]

Early life[edit]

Thayer was born in the state of New York. He and his family lived in Holland, New York. His father designed missile parts, and his mother was an activist who helped draft dodgers of the Vietnam War escape to Canada.

At the age of 17, Thayer wrote articles against corruption in his high school newspaper at Holland Central High School. His articles led to the school shutting down the school newspaper. Thayer later studied journalism at Northwestern University in 1978.[3]

Gay Liberation Network[edit]

Thayer founded the Gay Liberation Network in September 1998 under the original name "Chicago Anti-Bashing Network" which was changed to the Gay Liberation Network in 2004. The group is one of the largest and most-active LGBTQ direct-action groups in the area of Chicago.[4]

Anti-war activism[edit]

Thayer organized heavily against the Iraq War and the use of drones. In 2003, Thayer was an organizer of the March 2003 Iraq protest[5] and march that ended up with the arrests of 500-700 people on Lake Shore drive. Thayer was among those arrested.

On March 18, 2006, Thayer organized another march against the Iraq war down Michigan Avenue. Despite having permits, Thayer was directed by police to have the march earlier; Thayer refused to change the time, and started the march at 7pm, the original time he planned for and had on the permit.[6]

In 2012, Thayer was one of the lead organizers of the NATO protests in Chicago. Thayer commented that the march was more than against the wars that NATO causes, but the use of taxpayer money for war that could be used elsewhere such as healthcare and education. He stated that "NATO has an indirect effect on the life and death issues of many people; take for example, health care, where millions go without, but when aligned with NATO the effect is devastating."

March 20th, 2003 demonstration and arrest[edit]

On March 20, 2003, Thayer as one of the leaders of the Chicago Coalition Against War & Racism held a demonstration against the Iraq War that drew an estimated 10,000 – 15,000 people.[7] Thayer was among those who were arrested.

The demonstration led to the arrest of anywhere from 500-700 people on Lake Shore Drive. Some of whom were demonstrators others who may have been bystanders.[8]

A class action suit (Vodak v. City of Chicago) was filed approved by the city. In 2012, $6.2 million were awarded to those arrested in a settlement [9]

March 19th, 2005 demonstration and arrest[edit]

On March 19, 2005 Thayer, as head of the Chicago Coalition Against War & Racism, organized a demonstration against the Iraq war which attracted over 1000 demonstrators. The demonstration was scheduled for March 19, but Thayer was denied a permit to demonstrate by the city of Chicago.[10] Despite warning from the city and the Chicago Police Department (CPD), Thayer decided to hold the demonstration anyway in a form of a press conference.[11]

Thayer was arrested on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Oak Street[12] after holding a press conference instead of a march. Thayer was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and violation of the permit ordinance. Thayer later appealed the arrest in 2005[13] arguing that the city violated his first amendment rights, but was officially denied in September 2012. As a result of his charges, Thayer was fined $1,000 by the city.[14]

FBI raid and investigation[edit]

In 2010, Thayer was one of twenty-three activists that had their house raided by the FBI due to "the material support of terrorism."[15] The FBI claimed that Thayer and the other antiwar activists were providing material support to terrorist organizations like Hamas, the F.A.R.C. and many others.[16]

No arrests were made in the investigation as there has not been any connection made between Thayer and terrorists groups.

In response to the raids of the twenty-three activists, demonstrations were held across the country against the FBI's harassment of Thayer and the other activists.[17]

Chelsea Manning[edit]

Thayer is a supporter of transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Thayer has organized protests in support of Manning and serves on the advisory board for the Bradley Manning Support Network. For the past few years, Thayer has marched in the Chicago Gay Pride Parade with a message to pardon Manning of her crimes.[18]

Gay rights activism[edit]

Thayer founded the Gay Liberation Network in 1998. Thayer has organized protests for marriage equality and has called an end to the discrimination that LGBTQ people face. In February 2001, Thayer was arrested along with one other activist for attempting to chain and lock the doors of the Cook County's clerk building in protest of not being able to receive a marriage license. Thayer was charged with a felony and spent the night in jail and was later released on a $3,000 bail.[19]

In 2008, Thayer organized a protest against Prop 8 in Chicago, the amount of demonstrators was in the thousands.[20]

Thayer was one of the organizers and speakers at the 2013 March on Springfield for Marriage Equality on October 22.[21]

In 2011, Thayer was arrested in Moscow alongside Lt. Dan Choi for taking part in a gay pride parade unsanctioned by the city.[22]

In December 2013, Thayer visited Honduras to assist local LGBTQ activists with the fight for equality and to help monitor the Honduras presidential election.[23]

Thayer is also an outspoken opponent of Cardinal George in Chicago due to Cardinal George's hateful remarks against homosexuality.

Personal life[edit]

Thayer is openly gay and currently lives in Chicago in the Uptown neighborhood. Thayer got engaged in November 2013 and married in the summer of 2014. Thayer is also an atheist.[24]

Other activism[edit]

Thayer is also an activist for economic equality, labor, and immigration rights. He has participated and organized actions for Occupy Chicago. Thayer also supports abortion rights.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Andy Thayer Bio". Huffington Post.
  2. ^ "Andy Thayer, Author at Shadowproof". Shadowproof. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  3. ^ "G-8 protest organizer agent of 'change' or 'pain in the butt'?". Sun Times.
  4. ^ "Chicago Anti-Bashing Network". Archived from the original on 2014-05-17. Retrieved 2013-12-28.
  5. ^ "Andy Thayer". WTTW News. Retrieved 2019-09-03.
  6. ^ "Everyone Loves A Parade". Chicago Reader. 16 March 2006.
  7. ^ "10 years after invasion of Iraq, protesters remember shutting down Lake Shore Drive". WBEZ. Archived from the original on 2017-02-03. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  8. ^ "Two Perspectives On The 2003 Iraq War Protest That Shut Down Lake Shore Drive". Chicagoist. Archived from the original on 2017-03-13. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  9. ^ "Final bill for 2003 Iraq War protest arrests is more than $11 million". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  10. ^ "Chicago Media Action". Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  11. ^ "Chicago Indymedia: 3000 Rally and March in Chicago on March 19". Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  12. ^ "Chicago Indymedia: DEFEAT! ANTI-WAR PROTESTERS ACQUIESCE TO STATE/POLICE AUTHORITY!". Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  13. ^ "Casetext". Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  14. ^ "7-Year Fight With CPD Comes To An End For Anti-War Activist | ChicagoTalks". Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  15. ^ Fridell, Ahndi (24 September 2010). "FBI searches Midwest homes". Reuters. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  16. ^ "Radicals Leading Occupy Chicago Under Investigation for Terror Links". New Media Journal. Archived from the original on 2014-07-14.
  17. ^ Forrestal, Frank. "Protests denounce FBI raids in Chicago and Minneapoli". The Militant.
  18. ^ "Bradley Manning Support Network".
  19. ^ Hawkins, Karen. "Felony charges against 2 gay men at marriage protest". Windy City Times.
  20. ^ Bartosik, Matt (14 November 2008). "Anti-Prop 8 Protest Draws Thousands, Closes Streets". NBC Chicago.
  21. ^ BWW News Desk. "March on Springfield Rally Set for Illinois Marriage Equality on 10/22". Retrieved 2019-09-03.
  22. ^ "Chicago gay rights activist, Andy Thayer, and Lt. Dan Choi arrested in Moscow". Go Pride Chicago.
  23. ^ Clark, Matthew (10 December 2013). "LGBT delegation to Honduras reports human-rights abuses". Windy City Times.
  24. ^ Thayer, Andy (8 November 2013). "The Long Road to Equal Marriage Rights in Illinois". Huffington Post.

External links[edit]