Plaque Sponsor

Lori Cannon, Paul Highfield & Ronald Puskarits, Paul Desousa & Patrick F. Torres, Angela Foster & Eddie Seslowsky, Elizabeth Liechty

1958 - 1992

"You just have to keep doing what you can.
Because, someday, there are going to be survivors."

- Daniel Sotomayor

Daniel Sotomayor grew-up in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. He graduated from the American Academy of Art with a degree in graphic arts. His life changed in 1987 when he was infected with HIV – the virus that causes AIDS. At the time, vital young men would come down with minor flu-like symptoms and be dead in six weeks. Fueled by his diagnosis, in 1989 Daniel became involved with the Chicago chapter of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power – ACT UP/Chicago. His graphics and designs helped to support the fledgling organization. At the same time, Daniel also used his artistic skills to become the first openly gay, and openly HIV-positive, syndicated political cartoonist in the country. He produced almost 150 editorial cartoons about AIDS covering such topics as politics, religion, public policy, the insurance industry, modern medicine, law enforcement, family dynamics, popular culture, and the gay community itself. As a central figure in ACT UP/Chicago’s elaborately staged public protests, Daniel made headlines in 1990 by unfurling an enormous banner stating “WE DEMAND EQUAL HEALTHCARE NOW” from the Cook County Building in downtown Chicago during the National AIDS Action for Healthcare. Though Daniel and ACT UP eventually parted ways, he continued to fight AIDS on his own. In 1991, at the annual gala for “Impact” – the preeminent LGBTQ political action committee in Illinois at that time – Daniel challenged Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley with a banner that read, “DALEY TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT AIDS”. For this Daniel was bodily thrown out of the hotel by Impact’s organizers. The years he endured being demonized, while battling the institutions and individuals arrayed against People with AIDS, had taken a toll on his own health. In January 1992, Daniel was rushed to the hospital. The end was near. But, in the year since Daniel had been ejected from the Impact Gala, much had changed in Chicago’s LGBTQ community. On February 2, 1992, as he lay dying, Daniel received Impact’s “Alongi Award” for his tireless activism. That night, one thousand people leapt to their feet to honor the man they had once rejected. Daniel Sotomayor died three days later on February 5, 1992. His closest friends continue to work on behalf of the LGBTQ community in memory of the man who inspired them.

Plaque Sponsor

Lori Cannon, Paul Highfield & Ronald Puskarits, Paul Desousa & Patrick F. Torres, Angela Foster & Eddie Seslowsky, Elizabeth Liechty


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Latinx

Faith Construct Agnostic

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch AIDS Era (1980-present)

Field(s) of Contribution

Art, Music, Literature & Theater

Civics, Government, Politics, & Law


Social Justice

Commemorations & Honors

Joseph Alongi Award for Activism; Impact Illinois (1992)

Posthumous Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame Inductee (1992)


Original Biography Author
Victor Salvo
Biography Edited By
Owen Keehnen
Biography Vetted, Edited, and Certified By
Lori Cannon | Program Manger Heartland Alliance Health
Image Rights Usage Granted By
The Legacy Project | Gay Chicago Archive
Image Source for Bronze Casting
Paul Adams
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell