WBEZ | lesbian http://www.wbez.org/tags/lesbian Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Transgender man learns to accept love http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/transgender-man-learns-accept-love-110424 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 140627 Nick Heap.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&ldquo;I was the oldest of three girls and I had really only male friends for most of my growing-up years,&rdquo; Nick Heap says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;I had long, long blonde hair, long enough I could actually sit-on-it, blonde.&rdquo;</p><p>Nick grew up female and transitioned to male as an adult. He recorded his story as part of a partnership between StoryCorps Chicago and the<a href="http://transoralhistory.com/"> <u>Trans Oral History Project</u></a>.</p><p>As a kid, Nick was a &ldquo;tomboy&rdquo; who enjoyed riding around the neighborhood on his dirt bike, without a shirt on. His parents were supportive of expressing his identity as much as they understood it, but he struggled to understand himself.</p><p>In seventh grade, Nick wrote anonymous love letters to a girl at school who figured out pretty quickly who was writing them. &ldquo;Within days it was all over the school,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The harassment I would get after that was daily.&rdquo;</p><p>Nick&rsquo;s parents were called into the principal&rsquo;s office, but they stood firm: &ldquo;Is she causing an academic disruption in the classroom?&rdquo; they asked. &ldquo;So she wrote some notes to another kid. Kids do that.&rdquo;</p><p>Nick says that years later he talked to the girl who passed his notes around. She became a family counselor as an adult and they were able to talk through the experience in a healing way.</p><p>Even with that kind of support, for a long time it felt like he was on the outside looking in.</p><p>&ldquo;It was really hard feeling like I was utterly alone,&rdquo; Nick says. &ldquo;Now that I am passably male one hundred percent of the time, I am finally free to express those aspects of myself that are feminine, safely. But for so long, I spent so much of my life being ultra-masculine.&rdquo;</p><p>Over time, Nick has learned to have more patience with his family and himself.</p><p>&ldquo;For so long in my life, I couldn&rsquo;t feel the love of all the people around me,&rdquo; Nick says. &ldquo;It was like I was walking around inside a shell of armor. And their love just couldn&rsquo;t get to me. I couldn&rsquo;t feel it. I saw it, I knew it was there, I just couldn&rsquo;t feel it. And today that&rsquo;s not the truth. I can absolutely experience all this amazing love that has been all around me all the time and I&rsquo;m able to give that back to people now.&rdquo;</p><p>In June,<a href="http://storycorps.org/outloud/"> <u>StoryCorps launched the &ldquo;Out Loud&rdquo; initiative</u></a> to collect stories from LGBT people. One of these stories will be broadcast nationally on NPR each week for the next year.</p><p>The Trans Oral History Project continues to collect stories in partnership with StoryCorps Chicago. They <a href="http://transoralhistory.com/uploads/toolkit/ilive-interactive.pdf">recently published a toolkit</a> for gay-straight alliances and community organizations that work with LGBT youth.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 07:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/transgender-man-learns-accept-love-110424 Latina lesbians facing terminal illness celebrate life, love in wedding http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/latina-lesbians-facing-terminal-illness-celebrate-life-love-wedding-110272 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/wedding_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It was about 30 minutes before Carol Boyd was going to tie the knot Sunday. She was upstairs at the Chicago Urban Arts Society in Pilsen, touching up her makeup, while her two daughters fluffed up the skirt on her wedding dress.</p><p>&ldquo;Thank you,&rdquo; she told them. &ldquo; My daughters are giving me away, I&rsquo;m like the proudest mom on earth.&rdquo;</p><p>She took photos, then headed downstairs with her daughters and friends running lookout. She was trying to avoid even the briefest glimpse of her bride-to-be. The couple wanted to honor the traditional custom and be surprised.</p><p>&ldquo;Now we get to take exactly what everybody else gets to take, a marriage certificate, a marriage license,&rdquo; Carol said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m excited, I&rsquo;m happy, and I&rsquo;m proud to be able to do this today and make history.&rdquo;</p><p>In a hallway off to the side of the reception area, her future bride, Mae Yee, was pacing. She has a shaved head, and was sporting a white brocaded vest and a red bow tie.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m a little nervous,&rdquo; Mae said, laughing. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m getting married for the first time for real, I mean &lsquo;real&rsquo; real, this is like federal real.&rdquo;</p><p>They were about to join three other lesbian couples in a ceremony called &ldquo;A Big Queer Latina Wedding.&rdquo;&nbsp; They were among dozens of couples -- gay, lesbian and straight -- who took part in various mass weddings across Chicago to celebrate June 1, the first day same-sex marriages became legal in Illinois.</p><p>May and Carol Yee both hope the state&rsquo;s new same-sex marriage law leads to greater mainstream acceptance, but their particular wedding vows go even deeper than that.</p><p>Carol&rsquo;s a colon cancer survivor, and Mae has stage IV breast cancer. She&rsquo;s going to chemo every 21 days, hoping to prolong their life together as much as possible.</p><p>Mae said marriage means she can take care of her family financially, even if she&rsquo;s not here anymore.</p><p>&ldquo;I get sick, I can say, &lsquo;This is my wife, and these are my kids, and please let them in,&rsquo; and they have to abide by that, so I&rsquo;m very, very happy about that.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Oh my goodness, today is amazing, &ldquo; said Jessica Carillo, who organized the Latina event, which was sponsored by United Latino Pride and Lambda Legal. &ldquo;Today is a day closer to sort of being seen more equal in the eyes of our families, in the eyes of our community. For Latinos, marriage is a huge milestone. Marriage is, sort of what you&rsquo;re meant to do, to build a family.&rdquo;</p><p>Carillo said many Latinos face the twin challenges of Catholicism prohibiting same-sex marriage, and having parents who grew up in another country.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re bringing the ideas from back home, they&rsquo;re bringing whatever those biases in the way they grew up,&rdquo; Carillo says, adding the younger generation is growing up here with new ideas. &ldquo;And so when you mix those two things, there&rsquo;s a clash.&rdquo;</p><p>Carillo said she hopes same-sex marriage becoming legal will lead to more acceptance by Latinos and society.</p><p>But even though this was a day of celebration for LGBT people across the state, Evette Cardona said there&rsquo;s work to be done. She co-founded Amigas Latinas, an organization that seeks to empower and educate LGBT Latinas, with her wife, the city&rsquo;s Human Relations Commissioner, Mona Noriega.</p><p>&ldquo;While today we celebrate these four couples, tomorrow there&rsquo;s 10 times the number of families that won&rsquo;t accept their lesbian daughters,&rdquo; Cardona says. &ldquo;In the communities of color, if you are rejected by your family, and you also experience rejection by the mainstream community, where do you turn?&rdquo;</p><p>In fact, the parents of one of the brides, Juanita Gonzalez, didn&rsquo;t attend the wedding. But she found support in her aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as the family she&rsquo;s formed with her wife, Janet Cecil. Janet has two daughters, and a granddaughter, and they all stood by as the couple spoke their vows and exchanged rings.</p><p>When Juanita broke down midway through, one of Janet&rsquo;s daughters reached out to pat her back, and her little granddaughter did the same.</p><p>The couple, grandmothers now, were best friends in high school. Juanita says she knew she loved Janet at 16. But Janet thought it was wrong for her to feel this way about a woman. They moved in other directions, but said they kept finding their way back to each other, until they finally became a couple. Janet&rsquo;s friends and family&rsquo;s reaction? Essentially, &lsquo;Finally.&rsquo;</p><p>Like the other couples, Carol and Mae Yee shared their vows with laughter and tears, the promises to care for each other in sickness and health, deep with meaning.</p><p>&ldquo;...I vow to love you with every being, even after my last breath,&rdquo; Mae said. &ldquo;I promise to cherish each moment God has given us together for the rest of our lives &hellip;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I love you whether you&rsquo;re fat or fit, and when you&rsquo;re hurt, and when you&rsquo;re sick&hellip;&rdquo; Carol vowed.</p><p>The couple runs a charity together in their spare time called Humble Hearts, providing the homeless with food, clothing and furniture.</p><p>Carol said that didn&rsquo;t leave much for a fancy wedding with a reception, so she was grateful for the all-volunteer event in Pilsen, which was free for everyone attending.</p><p>Before the ceremony, a tearful Carol said of her bride, Mae: &ldquo;She&rsquo;s here today to live long enough to actually be married. It&rsquo;s my gift to her, it&rsquo;s me committing to her for better or worse, sickness and health. She&rsquo;s got a lot of sickness right now, but I&rsquo;m not going anywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>On this, their wedding day, there was no sickness in sight, only joy.</p><p>When the music started, they jumped out onto the dance floor with the three other newly married couples. And their first dance?</p><p>The song made famous by Etta James, &ldquo;At Last.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a WBEZ producer/reporting covering religion and culture.</em></p></p> Tue, 03 Jun 2014 07:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/latina-lesbians-facing-terminal-illness-celebrate-life-love-wedding-110272 Life in Northwest Indiana's steel closet http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/life-northwest-indianas-steel-closet-110264 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/steel.PNG" style="height: 470px; width: 325px; float: left;" title="" />As Illinois gears up for its first legal same-sex marriages, across the border in Indiana gay marriage is still officially banned.</p><p>Hoosiers say attitudes there are starting to soften, but some workplaces are still more closeted than others.</p><p>A new book reveals a little-known community of LGBT steelworkers who punch in every day at Northwest Indiana&rsquo;s huge steel mills.</p><p>&ldquo;Steel Closets&rdquo; by the author <a href="http://www.annebalay.com/" target="_blank">Anne Balay</a>, documents life in the macho environment of the steel mills where LGBT workers face discrimination and are often afraid to report it to the union.</p><p>Balay, a former English professor at Indiana University Northwest in Gary and the University of Illinois at Chicago, spent five years interviewing some 40 current and former steelworkers for her book.</p><p>She and retired lesbian steelworker Jan Gentry joined WBEZ&rsquo;s Michael Puente at our Crown Point bureau.&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 02 Jun 2014 10:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/life-northwest-indianas-steel-closet-110264 Gay advocacy group wants Chicago to suspend sister city program with Moscow http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-advocacy-group-wants-chicago-suspend-sister-city-program-moscow-108236 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Moscow Sister City_130731.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>LGBT advocacy group Equality Illinois wants Chicago to suspend its sister city program with the Russian capital of Moscow.</p><p>The <a href="http://chicagosistercities.com/sister-cities/moscow/">program</a> organizes local events, such as the Russia Day celebrations and the Russian-American Business Forum, to help strengthen cultural and commercial ties between the two cities.</p><p>Russia recently passed a law that bans people from holding gay pride rallies and informing minors about the LGBT community.</p><p>Equality Illinois also calls for Illinoisans to cancel business dealings with or travel plans to the eastern European country.</p><p>Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov says some local businesses have already stopped selling Russian products.</p><p>&ldquo;We live in a city that is very conscious of treating everyone with equal dignity and respect, and by us partnering with Moscow, a city that&rsquo;s... the opposite of where Chicago stands, I think we&rsquo;re going to send a strong message by saying that enough is enough.&rdquo; Cherkasov said.</p><p>Chicago Sister Cities International says they must continue the program so LGBT Russians might still feel welcome here. A statement from the organization also noted that it&rsquo;s important to keep the lines of communication open.</p><p><em>Lee Jian Chung is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow him <a href="http://www.twitter.com/jclee89">@jclee89</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 30 Jul 2013 17:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-advocacy-group-wants-chicago-suspend-sister-city-program-moscow-108236 Construction begins on Midwest’s first affordable housing for LGBTQ seniors http://www.wbez.org/news/construction-begins-midwest%E2%80%99s-first-affordable-housing-lgbtq-seniors-107501 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/photo (1)(1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Construction vehicles knocked down walls at a building in Lakeview Monday to prepare for what will soon become the region&rsquo;s first LGBTQ-friendly senior affordable housing development.</p><p>The $26 million dollar development will occupy a part of the old 23rd district Town Hall police station on Halsted and Addison streets, as well as the now-vacant space next to it. The building will be home to 79 studio and one-bedroom apartments, as well as a space for community programming run by <a href="http://www.centeronhalsted.org/" target="_blank">The Center on Halsted</a>.</p><p>The development has been in the works for a while. By Lakeview Ald. Tom Tunney&rsquo;s count, he&rsquo;s been working on the issue for at least 10 years. Tunney, one of the first openly gay Chicago aldermen, says the work won&rsquo;t stop once the center opens.</p><p>&ldquo;The selection process is going to be interesting because the demand is gonna be amazing,&rdquo; Tunney said. &ldquo;And getting it open and learning in general how to integrate the community center with the housing component, I think there&rsquo;s gonna be a few challenges there.&rdquo;</p><p>Some Chicagoans have already voiced interest in living in the building. Tom Genley said the senior center would be a safe zone, and thus he was eyeing one of the apartments.</p><p>&ldquo;Here, because I can be me, an out gay man. Here, because I do not have to hide my true self,&rdquo; Genley said. &ldquo;Here, because the closet is for clothes.&rdquo;</p><p>But alongside the celebration and hard-hat photo-ops was an air of disappointment over the Illinois House of Representatives&rsquo; decision not to call a vote on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. During her remarks about the housing project, Representative Sara Feigenholtz called the last weekend of the legislative session one where a lot of &ldquo;broken dreams happened.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We just didn&rsquo;t quite get it done yet,&rdquo; Feigenholtz said. &ldquo;But we&rsquo;re gonna go back and we&rsquo;re gonna get it done.&rdquo;</p><p>Democratic state Rep. Greg Harris of Chicago decided not to call a House floor vote on the bill that would&#39;ve made Illinois the 13th state to allow gay marriage. Harris said he didn&#39;t have the votes but also vowed to bring back the issue.</p><p>The Center on Halsted has been working with <a href="http://www.heartlandalliance.org/" target="_blank">The Heartland Alliance</a>, a local anti-poverty organization, state and city officials on the financing and construction for the affordable housing development.&nbsp; All 79 units will be subsidized, and will cost no more than 30 percent of a given resident&rsquo;s income. Construction on the building is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2014.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer/Reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 03 Jun 2013 16:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/construction-begins-midwest%E2%80%99s-first-affordable-housing-lgbtq-seniors-107501 A trip to the Pleasure Palace: Why Chicago needs bathhouses for women http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-05/trip-pleasure-palace-why-chicago-needs-bathhouses-women-107151 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/28382_118595761501142_2202481_n.jpg" style="height: 208px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Cassandra Avenatti attends Queerer Park event in 2010. (A/S/L Media/Leon Andrew Hensley)" />If you are a gay man looking to go out in Chicago on a Saturday night, a spider web of events spin out from Boystown. Lakeview has Sidetrack and Spin. Rogers Park offers Mayne Stage and Jackhammer. Edgewater boasts Big Chicks and the Granville Anvil. If you&rsquo;re downtown, check out Second Story and the aptly named Downtown Bar. The South Side offers Jeffery Pub, Club Escape and InnExile.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But where are the lesbian spaces? In recent years, many queer and lesbi-friendly bars have closed up shop in Chicago, including T&rsquo;s, which abruptly announced closure in March. Many Andersonville residents were shocked, as the bar was one of the last remnants of &quot;<a href="http://www.dykediva.com/columnists/clare_andersonville.php" target="_blank">Girls&rsquo; Town</a>,&quot; the neighborhood carved out during the late &#39;80s and &#39;90s.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Chicago&rsquo;s last full-time lesbian bar went under in 2009. Last month, West Hollywood&rsquo;s The Palms shut down after 50 years of business and the West Village&rsquo;s Rubyfruit Bar and Grille <a href="http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E04E6DB1439F937A35754C0A96E9C8B63" target="_blank">closed in 2008</a>. When Michigan&rsquo;s The Chrome Cat settled its tabs one last time, it was one of the last lesbian bars in <a href="http://www.mlive.com/living/index.ssf/2011/04/chrome_cat_in_lansing_one_of_m.html" target="_blank">the whole state</a>. The site <a href="http://lostwomynsspace.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">Lost Womyn&rsquo;s Space</a> tracks the disappearance of lesbian spaces across the country, a graveyard of empty buildings and lost histories.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">T&rsquo;s closure forced <em>AfterEllen</em> editor <a href="http://www.afterellen.com/people/are-lesbian-bars-going-extinct" target="_blank">Trish Bendix</a> to ask what many were thinking, &ldquo;Is this the end of an era?&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">There is certainly a &ldquo;<a href="http://femmesdelaville.tumblr.com/post/46770599323/ts-is-gone-why-should-i-stay" target="_blank">gaping hole</a>&rdquo; where the scene used to be. Like many formerly lesbian-centric neighborhoods, Andersonville is increasingly gay male and yuppie-dominated.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Formerly lady friendly bars The Closet and Big Chicks have seen an influx of male clientele crowd out the womenfolk, although Big Chicks offers nights to give feminine and queer-identified folks an inclusive space to dance and feel safe.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Doll House and Joie de Vine offer lady-centric events for queer Chicagoans, and inclusive events like Slo Mo and Chances Dances create programming for folks across gender expressions and sexualities.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Rogers Park&rsquo;s Parlour may go the furthest, The queer bar offers events ranging from hip-hop nights to events for lipstick femmes.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In an interview with <em><a href="http://thelstop.org/2012/01/the-women-behind-parlour/" target="_blank">The L Stop</a></em>, Parlour co-owner Jennifer Murphy stated that her goal is to &ldquo;impact [not just] the lesbian community but the GLBT community as a whole.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">As a response to the transphobia and marginalization reported in spaces like the Michigan Womyn&rsquo;s Festival, Murphy hopes to rethink female space.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;It has been our intention not to create boundaries within genders and sexuality,&rdquo; Murphy said. &ldquo;Parlour is here to explore and open minds to new and exciting experiences.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Slo Mo&rsquo;s Kristen Kaza argued that roller derby leagues, meetup events and concerts have taken the place of the traditional bar scene.&nbsp; Kaza <a href="http://www.timeoutchicago.com/restaurants-bars/74870/where-the-girls-are" target="_blank">told <em>Time Out Chicago</em></a> that bars aren&rsquo;t as &ldquo;relevant&rdquo; for modern women as they were their queer predecessors or the same way they are men.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;Gay male bars receive significantly higher traffic because the men are usually there for the main purpose of meeting and possibly hooking up, and gay women often need an additional, or just alternative, motivation,&rdquo; she said.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Cassandra Avenatti, an influential organizer cited as one of <em>The L Stop</em>&rsquo;s &ldquo;<a href="http://thelstop.org/2013/03/top-ten-chicago-lesbians-to-look-out-for-in-2013-2/" target="_blank">lesbians to watch out for</a>,&rdquo; argued that changing views on LGBT folks might be a factor in lesbian bars&rsquo; relevance too.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;With the increased acceptance of queerness in mainstream culture, some queer folks might feel less compelled to frequent gay social spaces,&rdquo; Avenatti said. &ldquo;There may be less of a feeling of necessity or urgency around queer bars.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In a piece published last month on <em>The L Stop</em>, Avenatti argued that while queer women have been more active in the public sphere as organizers and activists, the lack of community spaces for women has moved female sex into the margins.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Avenatti said, &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t count how many times I&rsquo;ve been asked [...], &ldquo;What do women do in bed?&rsquo;&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Avenatti said terms like &ldquo;lesbian bed death&rdquo; give folks the mistaken impression that women &ldquo;hold hands and talk about puppies.&quot;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">She worries that even health providers have a profound lack of knowledge when it comes to lesbian intercourse, often feeling they don&rsquo;t have to address safer sex practices with queer female patients.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;If health care providers have little to no knowledge about the ways in which queer women have sex, they cannot appropriately counsel women on risk reduction,&rdquo; she said.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Women who have sex with women (WSW) are <a href="http://std.about.com/od/stdsspecificcommunities/a/lesbiansafesex.htm" target="_blank">at risk of STDs</a>, and although some resources exist, there isn&rsquo;t the same community solidarity around sexual health issues there is for gay men. According to Avenatti, questions on &ldquo;women&rsquo;s sexual health practices have remained largely unaddressed.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Avenatti argues more sex websites or bathhouses in the community could improve the conversation on female sex.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">For gay men, websites like Grindr and Scruff allow users to connect with each other in a space that allows them to express their sexuality. But among queer women, Avenatti said&nbsp; &ldquo;the pervading idea [is] that if you are interested in casual or anonymous sex, you are that kind of girl.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;Many women are socialized to view their sexual desire (and bodies) as negative or dangerous, and are instructed to keep their longing private, suppressed,&rdquo; Avenatti said. &ldquo;We are not allowed space to unapologetically explore our needs and claim sexual liberty, and many of us have internalized a degree of shame about our sexuality and our bodies.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">A first step to change that? Avenatti believes women need a bathhouse for public sex.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">For the past two decades, a bathhouse for queer women and transfolks has operated in Toronto&rsquo;s gayborhood, <a href="http://contests.eyeweekly.com/eye/issue/issue_12.10.98/music/CCbruce10.php" target="_blank">known as</a> the &ldquo;bathhouse capital of the world.&rdquo; Called the Pleasure Palace (or &ldquo;Pussy Palace&rdquo;), organizers <a href="http://www.academia.edu/579384/Reclaiming_raunch_Spatializing_queer_identities_at_Toronto_womens_bathhouse_events" target="_blank">saw the event</a> as a way to address the dearth of opportunities for &ldquo;women to develop a sexual imagination, literature, techniques, art or knowledge.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In a study of the Pleasure Palace, Catherine Nash and Alison Bain argue it&rsquo;s about more than sex.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;The bathhouse is more than just a building, a space or an &lsquo;event&rsquo;. It can be interpreted as a sexual sanctuary, a safe-haven, a second-home to some, a hiding place to others,&rdquo; they wrote.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Similar <a href="http://older.unews.ca/story/item/shedogs-bathhouse-an-experiment-in-loving-our-bodies/" target="_blank">events in Halifax</a>, like She Dogs, offer female attendees workshops on sex practices including how-to demonstrations.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Gay male bathhouses often act as spaces of exclusion, throwing out trans visitors if patrons complain. Pleasure Palace has a zero tolerance policy for transphobia, and Avenatti feels that is crucial to its success.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;Many of the &lsquo;women only&rsquo; spaces that exist have organizers that define what they feel a woman is and allow attendance only by those who fit their definition,&rdquo; Avenatti said. &ldquo;A queer women&rsquo;s bathhouse event [should] be open to anyone who [identifies] as a woman, period.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Although many in the queer community feel that female-centric spaces affirm the binary, dismissing those who don&rsquo;t fit the ricategories, Avenatti &ldquo;wholeheartedly&rdquo; disagrees.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;Women-positive, women-centric spaces can be incredibly powerful and healing,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Spaces in which women, all women, can finally exhale, not worry about street harassment and other gender-based violence and exist in a space that affirms their experiences are essential.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">As female spaces rapidly disappear, Avenatti believes that these kinds of experiences for women are as &ldquo;important and relevant&rdquo; as ever. She said she would love to see a Pleasure Palace event spring up in Chicago as a way to celebrate a new era of sex-positive community building by giving folks a safe space to explore and challenge sexuality.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;I have had incredibly positive experiences with public spaces where nudity was required, like saunas,&rdquo; Avenatti said. &ldquo;Being in spaces where people did not react to nakedness or the thousand different, beautifully strange bodies was so life and body-affirming. I want everyone to have the opportunity to feel this way.&quot;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Nico Lang writes about LGBTQ life in Chicago. You can find Nico on<a href="http://www.facebook.com/nicorlang"> Facebook</a>,<a href="http://www.twitter.com/nico_lang"> Twitter</a> and<a href="http://achatwithnicolang.tumblr.com"> Tumblr</a>.</em></div></p> Tue, 14 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-05/trip-pleasure-palace-why-chicago-needs-bathhouses-women-107151 What gay sounds like: The linguistics of LGBTQ communities http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/what-gay-sounds-linguistics-lgbtq-communities-99994 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/GaysTheWord.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>There are no language markers common to all homosexual or same-sex identified individuals. But just as ethnic communities have ways of using language that tie them together, so too do many in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities.</p><p>Many also find it beneficial to code switch - adapt the way they speak and the language they use - depending on their surroundings.</p><p>William Leap, an anthropology professor at American University in Washington, D.C., coined the term &quot;Lavender Linguistics&quot; to describe the study of language used by LGBTQ speakers.</p><p>He is one of the organizers of an annual <a href="http://www.american.edu/cas/anthropology/lavender-languages/" target="_blank">Lavender Languages and Linguistics Conference</a> on the subject of how sexuality and gender identity relate to language.</p><p>Host Richard Steele interviewed Leap last week about who decides what gay sounds like and why the words we use to identify ourselves and others are so important.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 11 Jun 2012 14:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/what-gay-sounds-linguistics-lgbtq-communities-99994 Film series at Chicago Filmmakers focuses on lesbian films http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/film-series-chicago-filmmakers-focuses-lesbian-films <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Coquie Hughes.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Dyke Delicious Screening Series starts Saturday at <a target="_blank" href="http://chicagofilmmakers.org/cf/index.php">Chicago Filmmakers</a> with some films by local independent filmmaker <a target="_blank" href="http://seetruepeace.com/">Coquie Hughes</a>, including her latest, &quot;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1774499/">My Mama Says Yo Mama&rsquo;s a Dyke</a>.&quot; Hughes makes films covering a range of topics: lesbian love, motherhood, even the difference between good and evil. And, she does it all on a shoestring budget.</p><p>Hughes joined &quot;Eight Forty-Eight's&quot; Alison Cuddy to explain how she does all <br />&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 06 Jan 2011 16:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/film-series-chicago-filmmakers-focuses-lesbian-films Mell plans to marry in Iowa, despite civil unions bill http://www.wbez.org/story/civil-unions/deb-mell-gay-marriage-vs-civil-unions <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/gay cake toppers_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois State Representative Deb Mell says she plans to marry fiancée Christin Baker in Iowa, despite the likely passage of a civil unions bill next year.</p> <div>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re thrilled and grateful, obviously,&rdquo; Mell said about the law. &ldquo;But we really want that marriage license.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="../../../../../../story/civil-unions/civil-unions-bill-heads-illinois-senate">The Illinois Senate passed a bill</a> last week that would approve civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Governor Quinn has said he will sign the bill, which is expected to land on his desk sometime in January of 2011.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Mell comes from one of Illinois&rsquo; political dynasties; her father is 33rd Ward Alderman Dick Mell and her sister is Patti Mell Blagojevich. She is also a lesbian who has openly discussed her personal stake in the issue of gay marriage. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not even thrilled about civil unions,&rdquo; said Mell during <a href="../../../../../../story/culture/lifestyle/know-gay-marriage-debate">a talk at the Chicago History Museum in September</a>. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll be quite honest - I want access to the institution of marriage.&rdquo; Mell got engaged to her girlfriend Christin this year, and announced the engagement from the House floor.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Some gay rights advocates are celebrating the likely passage of the law, calling the bill a practical compromise in a political climate that may not have produced a gay marriage bill. Others, like WBEZ.org&rsquo;s Vocalo blogger Achy Obejas, <a href="../../../../../../blog/achy-obejas/civil-unions-some-kinda-legal">call the victory bittersweet</a>, arguing that the new law will grant gay couples &ldquo;all the rights of marriage except one: the ability to call their union what it really is.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="../../../../../../blog/justin-kaufmann/roll-call-how-your-lawmaker-voted-civil-unions">Mell voted in favor</a> of the civil unions bill, despite whatever reservations she may have had. Speaking with great emotion in her voice, she urged her colleagues to vote &ldquo;yes&rdquo; for the measure during the debate on the floor of the Illinois House.&nbsp;&ldquo;I assure you we are a family and we deserve the same rights that you enjoy,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Today with your yes vote, Christin and I can become family under the law.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Mell says she and Baker plan to marry in Iowa, where she went to college and where gay marriage became legal in 2009. And in the audio excerpt posted above, Mell explains why marriage is fundamentally different to her, her partner and their families, and shares the story of their engagement. The story is taken from her September talk at the <a href="http://www.chicagohs.org/">Chicago History Museum</a>, which was moderated by Laura Washington. The protagonists may be unorthodox, but it&rsquo;s a classic proposal story, right down to the part where she hides the ring in the crème brulee.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified's vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Rep. Mell's talk at the </em><a href="http://www.chicagohs.org/"><em>Chicago History Museum</em></a><em> took place in September of 2010 and was recorded by </em><a href="../../../../../../amplified"><em>Chicago Amplified</em></a><em>. Click </em><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wbez/id364380278" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em> to subscribe to the Dynamic Range podcast, and click </em><a href="../../../../../../story/culture/lifestyle/know-gay-marriage-debate"><em>here</em></a><em> for the full conversation with Rep. Mell. </em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Correction: an earlier version of this story misspelled Ms. Baker's name.</em></div> <p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 10 Dec 2010 22:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/civil-unions/deb-mell-gay-marriage-vs-civil-unions Life in rural communities for gay youth http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/life-rural-communities-gay-youth <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2010-October/2010-10-28/rainbow flag.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A neighborhood like Chicago&rsquo;s Boystown is a fairly safe--even welcoming--urban space for gay youth. But, not all gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and questioning teens are eager to flee the farm for life in the big city.</p><p>Mary Gray is a sociologist and associate professor <a href="http://www.indiana.edu/~cmcl/faculty/gray.shtml">Indiana University in Bloomington</a>. She spent time with rural gay youth for her She documents their experiences in her book <em><a href="http://www.queercountry.fromthesquare.org/">Out in the Country: Youth, Media and Queer Visibility in Rural America</a>.</em> Gray learned that city life doesn&rsquo;t always equal easy life for gay teens. We spoke with her about her findings.</p></p> Thu, 28 Oct 2010 13:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/life-rural-communities-gay-youth