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Austin remembers beloved activist, city employee

Friday, November 10, 2017 by Katy McElroy

This weekend, Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Jimmy Flannigan invite the public to City Hall to celebrate the life of Ceci Gratias, District 6 constituent relations director and community activist. Gratias passed away on Sunday, Nov. 5., at the age of 53. An unwavering advocate for the LGBTQ community, Gratias served on the Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for nearly 20 years. She helped launch that group’s scholarship foundation, and was its first president and CEO. She volunteered and worked tirelessly advocating for LGBTQ rights and social justice, including in Pride festivals and parades, Queerbomb, Out Youth, Allgo, HRC-Austin, Lifeworks’ homeless youth program, MLK Day of Service, Hate Crimes Task Force and Austin Lyric Opera’s Triangle on Stage. This year, Gratias received the prestigious Bettie Naylor Visibility Award from the Human Rights Campaign Texas, and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce plans to commemorate her life and legacy in Washington, D.C., at its annual National Dinner. From a 2015 Austin Chronicle profile: “We challenge any local activist to match that range.” Gratias was a longtime friend of Flannigan’s, and upon his election to Council, he hired her to the position of constituent relations director. The Nov. 12 memorial will begin at 4 p.m. in the City Hall Plaza, with music by the Capital City Men’s Chorus. After the memorial, all are invited to join the procession down Congress Avenue to Oilcan Harry’s. Attendees are requested to wear purple, Gratias’ favorite color.

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