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Paul Varnell, longtime columnist in gay media, dies at age 70

Paul Varnell, a longtime columnist for the gay press, died Dec. 9 of complications from pneumonia and a stroke. He was 70.

He was a board member of Parents and Friends of Gays in Chicago from 1983 to 1984; chaired the Media Committee of the Illinois Gay and Lesbian Task Force from 1983 to 1990 ( for part of that time he was also IGLTF's research director ) ; was a member of the Chicago AIDS Task Force from 1982 to 1990; was a co-founder of CARGO, the Chicago Area Gay Republican Organization, in 1984; and helped to promote the Gay History Month founding in 1994.

While his activism peaked in the late 1980s, Varnell found his true voice as a columnist in gay media, especially with Windy City Times in the 1990s. He was among the writers and other staff who left WCT in 1999 to start Chicago Free Press, and he was a columnist there until the paper fired him, for economic reasons, in late 2009, a few months before it folded.

His often-conservative political views were well known around the country, and frequently his columns would provoke angry letters.

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