by Fred Kuhr
For the first time in its 10-year history, Grab Magazine’s cover logo was not red, but black, as a way for the publication to mourn the loss of co-founder and co-publisher Mark Nagel.
That was the February 19 issue of the magazine. Two weeks earlier, on February 4, Nagel died at home from an epileptic seizure. He was 57.
In an open letter to readers, Grab publisher Stacy Bridges detailed how the two men met while working at Gay Chicago Magazine. They both left that publication in 2009 to launch Grab.
“For over 26 years, Mark recognized the vital role the press plays in the advancement of the LGBTQ community. His work has emphasized the importance of providing a localized publication for our community, businesses and causes,” Bridges wrote. “… Mark was also involved in many organizations and helped anyone he could. In the 1990s at the height of the AIDS epidemic, Mark delivered meals to people who were dying. I once asked him how he stayed strong, and his response was, ‘I had to, I wanted to be there when no one else was there to help them.’”
According to Chicago’s Windy City Times, Nagel “leaves behind a long legacy of work and philanthropy in the the community. Besides his work at the magazine, Nagel also helped produce the annual Grabbys adult entertainment awards and gave both his time and money to several area-charities, especially ones assisting persons with HIV/AIDS. … Nagel was involved with, among other organizations and projects, Center on Halsted, Ride for AIDS Chicago, Chicago House, Heartland Alliance and Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN); indeed the philanthropic component of the Grabbys ceremony benefits that latter organization. Nagel was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in 2017.”
Activist Lori Cannon recalled Nagel’s tireless philanthropy to Windy City Times. “Mark was tireless in his commitment in finding ways to support Open Hand Chicago,” which Cannon founded in 1988. “Some of the best food drives we had in our 30-year history were because of Mark Nagel and his unique talent of reaching out to celebrities, or promoting locations where barrels would be put up for collection.”
Brad Balof, the general manager of Chicago landmark video bar Sidetrack, posted on Facebook: “Mark Nagel made Chicago a better place. The landscape of our community will be different without him, but he changed it for good. You will be missed by many!”
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