WBEZ | LGBTQ http://www.wbez.org/tags/lgbtq Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Transitioning fierceness http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/transitioning-fierceness-109370 <p><p class="p1"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1466042_547063392045710_1828672922_n.jpg" style="height: 479px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="(Facebook/Kristen Kaza)" />&ldquo;When you have a population of street-based youth in a wealthy area, there&rsquo;s going to be conflict and tension,&quot; said Jacqueline Boyd, a co-founder of <a href="http://projectfiercechicago.org/" target="_blank"><strong>Project Fierce Chicago</strong></a>, a new organization aimed at creating a long-term homeless living facility for LGBTQ youth.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">Boyd&#39;s criticisms stemmed around the Lakeview neighborhood specifically, an area both known for its large and affluent LGBTQ population and its recent spate of derisive attitudes towards the actions and presence of LGBTQ youth in the neighborhood (especially those of color).&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">While the majority of LGBTQ services are in the Lakeview area, there is a dearth of resources on the South and West Sides of the city. Especially relevant is the more than 15,000 homeless youth in Chicago. Boyd estimates that a quarter are LGBTQ youth.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">&ldquo;They&rsquo;re trying to grow and develop in the same way that everyone else is, but there&rsquo;s no housing,&quot; she said.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">In order to combat these numbers, Project Fierce Chicago aims to create a new model for long-term and stable transitional housing for this population.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">&ldquo;The Lakeview area has not developed [resources] of its own accord an answer,&quot; Boyd began. &quot;If it was a priority for the Lakeview area, it would have happened.&rdquo;</p><p class="p2">Fundraising efforts are currently underway, including tomorrow&#39;s Slo &#39;Mo Spectacular: A Soulful Holiday Shindig! Featuring 18 performers including r&amp;b band Sidewalk Chalk, Psalm One, and JC Brooks, fundraising efforts will go to future Project Fierce Chicago costs.</p><p class="p2">Their goal is to house 5-10 homeless youth with the expectation of housing them and providing resources (such as mental health or job resources and nutritional guidance) until they are independent and stable, eventually adapting this model to other parts of the city. Organizers are aiming towards finding a two or three-flat in the South Shore, Austin, or West Garfield Park neighborhoods, areas that are close to public transportation and are generally supportive of this living model.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">Despite their articulated goals, Boyd makes a point of noting that their pursuits will adapt to what the youth themselves want and need.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">&ldquo;We have all of these visions and dreams for people in transitioning, but what that is going to look like is going to be directly related to what the youth want.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">Because despite beliefs about their station in life, they will ultimately have a greater sense of what is needed in their own lives as they transition out of homelessness.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">&quot;They know the needed to have skills in to have control of your past and your destiny,&quot; Boyd said.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2"><em><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/410617875731906/" target="_blank"><strong>The Slo &#39;Mo Spectacular: A Soulful Holiday Shindig!</strong></a> takes place on Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Bottom Lounge (1375 W Lake). Tickets are $15 and the event begins at 8 p.m.</em></p></p> Fri, 13 Dec 2013 15:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/transitioning-fierceness-109370 Tackling the stigma of bisexuality http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/tackling-stigma-bisexuality-108978 <p><p><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bisexual%20pride%20flag.jpg" title="(WIkipedia/Commons)" /></p><div><p dir="ltr">October is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/01/october-1-lgbt-history-month_n_4013850.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices">LGBTQ History Month</a> &ndash; a time to honor gay rights pioneers of the past and celebrate the monumental progress that has been made. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">But prejudice against the &quot;B&quot; in LGBTQ, bisexuality, still holds a tremendous amount of power, as its legitimacy continues to be called into question in straight and queer communities alike.</p><p dir="ltr">People who identify as bisexual &ndash; that is, having an attraction to both genders, although not always simultaneously or equally &ndash; are often called liars, branded as promiscuous, or shamed into invisibility by those who don&#39;t understand how bisexuality could be anything more than a &quot;phase&quot; or a &quot;coverup.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">A <a href="http://chicago.gopride.com/news/article.cfm/articleid/47341876">groundbreaking report</a> from the San Francisco Human Rights Commission has defined the bisexual &ldquo;erasure&rdquo; problem this way:</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;Bisexuals experience high rates of being ignored, discriminated against, demonized, or rendered invisible by both the heterosexual world and the lesbian and gay communities. Often, the entire sexual orientation is branded as invalid, immoral, or irrelevant. Despite years of activism, the needs of bisexuals still go unaddressed and their very existence is still called into question. This erasure has serious consequences on bisexuals&#39; health, economic well-being, and funding for bi organizations and programs.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Ultimately, bisexuality myths only serve to amplify stereotypes about people who don&#39;t settle at one end of the homo/hetero binary, while also perpetuating stigmas that keep &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biphobia">biphobia</a>&quot; alive and well.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Myth 1: You&#39;re either gay, straight, or lying. </strong><strong>Bisexuality does not exist. </strong></p><p dir="ltr">In addition to being rude and presumptuous, this oft-used maxim is just flat out <a href="http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/21/1134808/-I-m-not-Gay-Straight-OR-Lying">wrong</a> in dismissing all bisexual people as wolves in sheep&#39;s clothing.</p><p dir="ltr">Granted, many bisexual individuals hold a preference. For example, I identify as bisexual, and while I hold a sexual attraction to both genders, I tend to be more romantically attracted to men. This is why I choose the term &ldquo;heteroromantic bisexual.&quot; Others may prefer another descriptor under the <a href="http://bidyke.tumblr.com/post/36276376222/new-bisexual-umbrella-d-i-needed-to-make-this">bisexual umbrella</a>, or choose not to label themselves at all.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Myth 2: Bisexuality is just one stage in the coming out process for gays and lesbians.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Of course, some people do come out as bisexual before eventually coming out as gay or lesbian to their friends and family. But to stereotype all bisexuals as being in some phase of transition, or just &ldquo;experimenting&rdquo; before finally accepting themselves as exclusively gay or straight, is not only an unfair and prejudicial assumption, but a scientifically inaccurate one as well.</p><p dir="ltr">A number of studies, including those conducted by renowned sexologist Alfred Kinsey, have shown that sexuality is <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_orientation">fluid</a> and exists on a spectrum. In 1948, Kinsey&#39;s work &quot;Sexual Behavior in the Human Male&quot; found that &quot;46 percent of the male population had engaged in both heterosexual and homosexual activities, or &#39;reacted to&#39; persons of both sexes, in the course of their adult lives,&quot; which is just one example to make up the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinsey_scale">vast middle</a> that many of us occupy, but often feel too afraid to admit even to ourselves.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Myth 3: Bisexuality is okay for women, but not for men.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">This bias is deeply rooted in patriarchy, and the corresponding myth that women only pretend to be bisexual to attract men. The idea that bisexuality is more acceptable in women may also stem from the overwhelming visibility of woman-on-woman sexuality in comparison to men, especially in pornographic films, mainstream movies, and onstage at MTV award shows.</p><p dir="ltr">For example, Katy Perry&#39;s hit song &quot;I Kissed A Girl (And I Liked It)&quot; is a little racy, but hardly shocking enough to turn off a mainstream audience. However, would a man singing &ldquo;I Kissed A Boy (And I Liked It)&rdquo; in a similarly bisexual context be greeted with the same enthusiasm? &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Countless men both in and out of the public eye have proudly affirmed their bisexuality (and &quot;<a href="http://www.towleroad.com/2013/10/morrissey-im-not-gay-i-am-humansexual.html">humansexuality</a>,&quot; in Morrissey&#39;s case) over the years. Here are just a few:&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.bowiegoldenyears.com/articles/7609-playboy.html">David Bowie</a>, in a 1976 interview with Playboy:</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;It&#39;s true &ndash; I am a bisexual. But I can&#39;t deny that I&#39;ve used that fact very well. It&#39;s the best thing that ever happened to me.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/1f52wp/til_billy_joe_armstrong_came_out_as_bisexual_in/">Billie Joe Armstrong</a>, in a 1995 interview with The Advocate:</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;I think I&#39;ve always been bisexual. I mean, it&#39;s something that I&#39;ve always been interested in. I think everybody kind of fantasizes about the same sex. I think people are born bisexual, and it&#39;s just that our parents and society kind of veer us off into this feeling of &#39;Oh, I can&#39;t.&#39; They say it&#39;s taboo. It&#39;s ingrained in our heads that it&#39;s bad, when it&#39;s not bad at all. It&#39;s a very beautiful thing.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/clive-davis-comes-out-in-new-memoir-20130219">Clive Davis</a>, in his 2013 memoir &quot;The Soundtrack of My Life&quot;:</p><p>&quot;After my second marriage failed, I met a man who was also grounded in music. Having only had loving relationships and sexual intimacy with women, I opened myself up to the possibility that I could have that with a male, and found that I could ...You don&#39;t only have to be one thing or the other. For me, it&#39;s the person.&quot;</p><p>Finally, to all who have been ostracized, invalidated, or shamed into silence because of your sexual orientation, especially those who have been told to &quot;pick a side&quot; or &quot;you can&#39;t have it both ways,&quot; know this: you&#39;re okay just the way you are. I promise.</p></div><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 25 Oct 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/tackling-stigma-bisexuality-108978 What weddings look like in 2013 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/what-weddings-look-2013-108908 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/slow%20motion.png" style="height: 348px; width: 620px; " title="Still from a viral video by newlyweds Quang and Ellie, who had a slow-motion video booth for guests at their wedding reception. (Vimeo/Super Frog Saves Tokyo)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">Romantic partners of the Pinterest and Etsy era are waiting longer to tie the knot, adopting more unconventional ceremonies, and sometimes breaking from tradition altogether to keep their weddings inexpensive and quirky.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>According to a study released this summer by Bowling Green State University&#39;s National Center for Marriage and Family Research, the <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-07/bgsu-mrl071813.php" target="_blank">U.S. marriage rate</a> has hit a new low at 31.1, or 31 marriages per 1,000 previously unmarried women. In 1920, that percentage was 92.3.&nbsp;</p><p>Meanwhile, the average age at woman&#39;s first marriage is 27, its highest point in over a century.</p><p>Other differences in wedding style are the direct result of changing social mores, from gay marriage becoming legal in <a href="http://gaymarriage.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004857" target="_blank">14 states</a>&nbsp;to a gradual decline in religious commitment (roughly <a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2013/07/02/growth-of-the-nonreligious-many-say-trend-is-bad-for-american-society/" target="_blank">a third of U.S. adults</a> under age 30 do not identify as &quot;a&nbsp;religious person,&quot; according to the Pew Research Center) likely contributing to more secular ceremonies as well.&nbsp;</p><p>So, which customs have millennial couples decided to preserve, rewrite or throw out for their nuptial day?</p><p>Here&#39;s just a sampling of 13 wedding trends that stood out in 2013:&nbsp;</p><p><strong>1. Public proposals.</strong></p><p>While I&#39;m fairly certain that I would die of embarrassment if proposed to in this manner, the recent spate of viral proposal videos has only escalated in cuteness over the years. For example, this <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4HpWQmEXrM" target="_blank">flash dance proposal</a>,&nbsp;filmed at a Salt Lake City Home Depot in September and now amassing over 10 million views on YouTube,&nbsp;proves that the fad is here to stay&mdash;at least for now.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>2. Creative photoshoots.</strong></p><p>If unmarried folk must suffer through a barrage of lovey-dovey Facebook albums come wedding season, then they might as well be interesting. Kudos to <a href="http://www.neatorama.com/2013/09/26/Movie-inspired-Engagement-Photos/#!luyRl">this duo</a>&nbsp;for going full movie nerd in their engagement photos, and to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/12/zombie-engagement-photo-_n_3916649.html" target="_blank">this wedding party</a> for staging a &quot;bloody awesome&quot; zombie-inspired shoot.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>3. Slow motion.</strong></p><p>After the footage from this couple&#39;s <a href="http://jezebel.com/well-this-is-one-very-adorable-wedding-video-1218944786/1225260547" target="_blank">Brooklyn reception</a>&nbsp;went viral, the clamoring for slow-motion video booths at every hipster wedding from Austin to Portland began in earnest.</p><p><strong>4. Wedding movies.</strong></p><p>Professional videographers who can make any wedding ceremony look like &quot;The Notebook&quot; or an Instagram-filtered version of Taylor Swift&#39;s &quot;Love Story&quot; are in high demand these days. Some of these mini-movies might be a little too high on the schmaltz factor; but in my opinion, beautiful videos like <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/03/devon-jordan-gay-wedding-video_n_4037542.html" target="_blank">this one</a>&nbsp;are reason enough to keep the trend alive.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>5. Out with the garter and bouquet toss.</strong></p><p>These <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/29/bouquet-toss_n_3354144.html" target="_blank">centuries-old customs</a>&nbsp;have fallen out of favor with many a modern couple, because let&#39;s face it: throwing a bouquet to a rabid horde of single ladies is<em> </em><em>so</em> 1950s, and reaching under your wife&#39;s skirt in front of 100+ guests is more than a tad bit awkward, not to mention tacky.</p><p><strong>6. In with mint green.</strong></p><p>From bridesmaids&#39; dresses to floral arrangements to trendy ombre cakes, the thousands of Pinterest boards devoted to this popular shade don&#39;t lie: a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pinterest.com/3dmemoirs/hot-wedding-trends-for-2013-1-the-color-mint/" target="_blank">mint vogue</a>&nbsp;is upon us.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>7. Foot your own bill.</strong></p><p>With more partners choosing to marry later in life (i.e. when they are more financially stable), the old rule of the bride&#39;s parents paying for the wedding has fallen by the wayside. Considering the not-so-subtle ties to fathers selling their daughters back in <a href="http://offbeatbride.com/2010/12/the-dowry-tradition" target="_blank">dowry times</a>, this update is a decidely welcome change.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>8. Live-stream it.</strong></p><p>Can&#39;t make it to an out-of-town wedding? No problem. In the age of all things digital, you can virtually attend a loved one&#39;s ceremony via Skype, FaceTime, or a streaming company devised for this very purpose, <a href="http://www.idostream.com">I Do Stream</a>. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>9. More desserts.</strong></p><p>Why buy just one or two very expensive wedding cakes when you could have a more cost-effective candy table, cupcake tower, platter of cronuts, bouquet of cake pops, an ice cream sandwich bar, or my personal favorite, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bridal-guide/sweet-as-pie-15-wedding-i_b_2875646.html" target="_blank">wedding pie</a>?&nbsp;</p><p><strong>10. Food trucks.</strong></p><p>Forget the fancy catering service. All you need is a food truck of delicious tacos, barbeque or <a href="http://glo.msn.com/living/hottest-and-wackiest-wedding-trends-7337.gallery?photoId=57004" target="_blank">In-N-Out burgers</a> to keep your hip and hungry guests thoroughly satisfied.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>11. Spectacular sendoffs.&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Throwing rice may be the old standard for departing newlyweds, but modern weddings have kicked the tradition up a notch with sparklers, flower petals, bubbles, and even <a href="http://offbeatbride.com/2011/09/rice-tossing-alternatives" target="_blank">glowing lanterns</a>&nbsp;released into the sky for extra drama.</p><p><strong>12. No bridal party.</strong></p><p>Back in March,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.today.com/style/death-wedding-party-couples-scale-back-1C8923876" target="_blank">Today.com</a>&nbsp;reported &quot;the death of the wedding party,&quot; citing a trend of more couples deciding to scale back financially and skip the stress of bridal parties altogether. Apparently, &quot;the days of having 15 bridesmaids are over,&quot; although no word yet on whether the amount of bridezillas will also decline as a result.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>13. Mason jars.&nbsp;</strong></p><p>In case you hadn&#39;t heard, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/17/mason-jar-ideas_n_3943075.html" target="_blank">mason jars are the new wine glasses</a>.</p><p>What other wedding trends have you noticed this year?</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. You can find Leah on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">&nbsp;Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 15 Oct 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/what-weddings-look-2013-108908 Interracial love on TV is the new normal http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-07/interracial-love-tv-new-normal-108249 <p><p><img alt="" and="" as="" class="image-original_image" fitzgerald="" goldwyn="" grant.="" kerry="" olivia="" pope="" president="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Scandal.jpg" starring="" title="Still from &quot;Scandal,&quot; starring Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn. (ABC)" tony="" washington="" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">One of the hottest TV romances to enrapture audiences over the past year has been the steamy liaison between a fictional President and his former Communications Director, played by Tony Goldwyn and Kerry Washington, respectively, on the ABC smash hit <i>Scandal.&nbsp;</i>However, the &quot;scandalous&quot; aspect of their affair has been mostly focused on their clashing levels of political power (and the fact that the President is cheating on his First Lady), not the outdated, potentially hamfisted conundrum of a white man dating a black woman.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">At one point, Olivia Pope (Washington) mentions the <a href="http://www.racialicious.com/2012/12/13/table-for-two-scandals-brush-with-history/" target="_blank">Sally Hemings-Thomas Jefferson</a> nature of their relationship. President Fitzgerald &quot;Fitz&quot; Grant (Goldwyn) is stung by the comment, and later remarks, &quot;You&#39;re playing the race card because I&#39;m in love with you? Come on! Don&#39;t belittle us.&quot; Interestingly enough, I didn&#39;t give much thought at all to the interracial aspect of their pairing until Olivia brought it up.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">I suppose the subject cannot be ignored completely, nor should it be; however, the choice of <em>Scandal </em>creator Shonda Rhimes to make their racial disparity more of a non-issue than a huge brouhaha may be the biggest watershed moment of all.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><i>Orange is the New Black</i>&nbsp;is another example of show that proves times are changing for the better. Not only does the Netflix prison dramedy contain a diverse range of romantic entanglements&mdash;from a Latina prisoner&#39;s dalliance with her white guard to a a plethora of same-sex encounters that nimbly defy racial divides&mdash;but the series also depicts an interracial family with appropriately subtle nuance and grace.</p><p><img a="" abc="" alt="" class="image-original_image" crazy="" eyes="" from="" gets="" her="" is="" new="" orange="" parents.="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Crazy-Eyes-Parents.jpg" the="" title="Still from &quot;Orange is the New Black,&quot; when Crazy Eyes gets a visit from her parents in prison. (Netflix)" visit="" when="" /></p><p>The parents of black inmate Suzanne &quot;Crazy Eyes&quot; Warren just happen to be <a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/uzo-aduba-on-adoption-informing-her-orange-is-the-new-black-character" target="_blank">white</a>; a shock to some viewers, maybe, but also a moment that feels heart-tuggingly genuine and perhaps even relatable to audiences who may have otherwise written her off as another &quot;crazy&quot; black woman stereotype. Did being adopted by a seemingly nice, affulent, &quot;normal&quot; white couple contribute to her issues later in life? As with the rest of the complex female characters on OITNB, I can&#39;t wait to delve deeper into Crazy Eyes&#39; backstory and find out.</p><p>Of course, interracial families don&#39;t seem like such a big deal to most people in 2013; in fact, white parents adopting black or Asian children are usually perceived as more <em>en vogue</em> than unconventional. But when a Cheerios commercial nonchalantly featuring a white mother, black father and cute-as-a-button biracial daughter can cause a <a href="http://gawker.com/cheerios-ad-starring-interracial-family-predictably-sum-510591871" target="_blank">racist uproar</a> in the new millenium, I am reminded that we still have a long way to go.&nbsp;</p><p>The fact of the matter is that TV shows still take great risks in veering from the norm, especially when the shows&#39; leads (not just their quirky supporting characters) are the ones to defy previously ironclad boundaries of race, sex and gender roles in relationships.&nbsp;</p><p><img a="" abc="" adopted="" alt="" an="" and="" as="" biological="" children.="" class="image-original_image" couple="" family="" gay="" interracial="" multi-ethnic="" of="" polo="" raising="" saum="" sherri="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/The%20Fosters_ABC%20Family.jpg" starring="" style="float: right; " teri="" the="" title="Still from &quot;The Fosters,&quot; starring Sherri Saum and Teri Polo. (ABC Family) " /></p><p>Enter <em>The Fosters</em>, a new drama series from ABC Family about an interracial lesbian couple and their multi-ethnic family of foster, adopted and biological children. Yes, devoted families just like theirs exist outside the world of television, but rarely are they portrayed front and center as a brood akin to <em>7th Heaven</em>.&nbsp;</p><p>Thankfully, change has arrived in full force, whether the bigots like it or not. And while interracial relationships on TV are still considered &quot;groundbreaking&quot; in this day and age, my hope is they won&#39;t even bat an eye in the years to come.</p><p>We may not live in a post-racial world; but as an unremittingly hopeless romantic at heart, I&#39;d still like to believe that love is colorblind.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px; ">Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer for WBEZ and co-host of&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2&amp;ign-mpt=uo%3D2" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 14px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px; " target="_blank">Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. Follow her on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 14px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px; " target="_blank">Twitter</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 14px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px; " target="_blank">Facebook</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com/" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 14px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px; " target="_blank">Tumblr</a>.&nbsp;</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 01 Aug 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-07/interracial-love-tv-new-normal-108249 Chicago Pride Parade crowd tops 1 million http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-pride-parade-crowd-tops-1-million-107906 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/PrideParade2013.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago police say more than 1 million participated in the Chicago&#39;s Pride Parade.</p><p>The number is a big spike from last year&#39;s roughly 850,000. Organizers said the Supreme Court&#39;s recent decisions energized people and pleasant weather during the day helped.</p><p>A coalition of supporters known as Illinois Unites for Marriage had promised a diverse, statewide group at the event.</p><p>The annual Pride Parade took place Sunday on the city&rsquo;s North Side.</p><p>It kicked off at noon on Montrose Avenue and Broadway Street, eventually winding its way down to Diversey Parkway and Sheridan Road on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side.</p><p>The Illinois Senate approved legislation in February that would legalize same-sex marriage. But the House adjourned last month without voting on the measure, after sponsor Rep. Greg Harris said he didn&#39;t have the votes for it to pass.</p><p>But most attendees didn&rsquo;t have politics on their mind as they danced and celebrated pride for the gay community.</p><p>State politicians made an appearance despite the fact that they didn&rsquo;t call the same sex marriage bill up for a vote in the Illinois House just a few weeks ago.</p><p>Illinois Governor Pat Quinn made his way down the parade route and even though he&rsquo;s expressed his support for same sex marriage, riled up a few people in the crowd.</p><p>Erin Dunmoore from Will County said she felt like he and others were pandering to the crowd.</p><p>&ldquo;They are talking the talk but not doing what counts, so that&rsquo;s disappointing.&rdquo;</p><p>Some people in attendance were there for the first time.</p><p>Karen Enciso came from Mexico and said she was quite impressed with the turnout.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m straight, but we are individuals, there has to be no difference. Sexuality is a decision and everyone has to be free for that.&rdquo;</p><p>Alexander Roi, who has attended the parade for the last 17 years, said Illinois needs to step up and move towards equality for all.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody else is going to be doing it. It&rsquo;s about taxes, it&rsquo;s about rights, it&rsquo;s about everything equal for everyone.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Mariam Sobh is the midday and weekend news anchor at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/mariamsobh" target="_blank">@mariamsobh</a>. The Associated Press contributed to this report. </em></p></p> Mon, 01 Jul 2013 07:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-pride-parade-crowd-tops-1-million-107906 Take 'Pride' in gay cinema http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-06/take-pride-gay-cinema-107890 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/weekend.jpg" style="height: 455px; width: 610px; " title="Tom Cullen and Chris New play lovers in the 2011 British film &quot;Weekend.&quot; (Sundance Selects)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">This week, the U.S. Supreme Court declared a key part of DOMA <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/26/read-the-supreme-court-declares-doma-unconstitutional/" target="_blank">unconstitutional</a>, and also struck down Prop 8 to allow <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/supreme-court-prop-8_n_3434854.html" target="_blank">full marriage rights</a> to gay couples in the state of California.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>To celebrate this momentous victory (and gear up for the 44th <a href="http://chicagopride.gopride.com" target="_blank">Annual Chicago Pride Parade</a> on Sunday, June 30), why not have a movie marathon of the greatest LGBTQ films of all time?</p><p>Here&#39;s my top 15:</p><p><strong>15. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0960730/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1" target="_blank">Beautiful Darling</a></strong></p><p>A captivating documentary about the colorful and ultimately tragic life of Andy Warhol superstar (and one of the most beautiful transgender women to emerge from any era) Candy Darling.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>14. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0318997/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Angels in America</a></strong></p><p>Though technically a television miniseries, this filmed adaptation of a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angels_in_america" target="_blank">Pulitzer-Prize winning play</a>&nbsp;earns a spot on this list because of the exceptional acting (especially Al Pacino as the fiercely closeted, AIDS-stricken attorney Ray Cohn) and a powerful story about the shifting social and political climate of the 1980s that still resonates today.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>13. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0171804/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Boys Don&#39;t Cry</a></strong></p><p>Hilary Swank gives a stunning, Oscar-winning performance as Brandon Teena, a real-life transgender teen who was raped and murdered in 1993 rural Nebraska after a group of men discovered his secret.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>12. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1714210/?ref_=sr_3" target="_blank">Weekend</a></strong></p><p>This 2011 British drama about two men who meet and begin a sexual relationship the week before one of them plans to leave the country is reminiscent of <em>Before Sunrise</em>: a smart and perceptive take on star-crossed lovers that feels achingly, intimately real.</p><p><strong>11. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112651/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">The Celluloid Closet</a></strong></p><p>If you are intrigued by the depiction of homosexuals on film&mdash;from the heavily-censored Golden Age of Hollywood through the renaissance of the early 1990s&mdash; then this documentary (featuring interviews with Tony Curtis, Shirley Maclaine, Tom Hanks and Harvey Fierstein) is a must-see.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>10. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1315981/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">A Single Man</a></strong></p><p>Directed by fashion designer Tom Ford, this artful and exquisite film tells the story of a college professor (Colin Firth) secretly grieving the death of his male partner in 1960s Los Angeles.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>9. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0248845/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Hedwig and the Angry Inch</a></strong></p><p>Writer/director/star James Cameron Mitchell is a lightning rod of camp and innovation, turning his groundbreaking off-Broadway musical about an <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedwig_and_the_Angry_Inch_(musical)" target="_blank">angry transgender rock star</a>&nbsp;into a movie that both satisfies the show&#39;s cult following and invites a new audience into Hedwig&#39;s irresistably bizzaro world.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>8. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0842926/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">The Kids Are All Right</a></strong></p><p>Some people hate this movie; I love it. The family dynamic, especially the committed yet complex relationship between long term partners Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore), is a breath of fresh air in modern filmmaking: a remarkable story that portrays gay parents and their children like any other &quot;normal&quot; (loving, devoted and slightly dysfunctional) family on the block.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>7. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0275491/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Bad Education</a></strong></p><p>Pedro Almódovar is one of my favorite directors, and this film is one of his most ingenious masterpieces to date. The effect of religious schooling and sexual abuse on the lives of two men&mdash;estranged friends who grow up with a wealth of secrets and lies between them&mdash;is told with eye-popping color, frenzied edits and a story so full of shocking twists and turns that it must be seen to be believed.</p><p><strong>6. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1013753/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Milk</a></strong></p><p>Sean Penn&#39;s Oscar-winning performance as gay rights hero&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Milk" target="_blank">Harvey Milk</a>&nbsp;is a triumph, and director Gus Van Sant also does a fine job in bringing Milk&#39;s inspiring true story to richly cinematic life. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>5. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0388795/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Brokeback Mountain</a></strong></p><p>In 2005, this beautiful and heartwrenching film about the forbidden love between two cowboys (played by A-listers Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger) not only changed the way that typically conservative audiences perceived gay romances onscreen, but also broke down the barriers for films featuring homosexual love interests to enjoy mainstream success.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>4. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119590/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Ma Vie en Rose</a></strong></p><p>As another film that changed the dialogue about LGBTQ issues in the U.S. and around the world, 1997&#39;s&nbsp;<em>Ma Vie En Rose</em> (&quot;My Life in Pink&quot;) should be required viewing for every parent or peer of a transgendered child. The story of a little boy named Ludovic who dresses like a princess and dreams of becoming a girl was revolutionary at the time, and continues to ring true for any family learning to accept their child for who they are.</p><p><strong>3. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109045/?ref_=sr_6" target="_blank">The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert</a></strong></p><p>This 1985 Australian comedy was a huge hit overseas, and it&#39;s not difficult to see why. Two drag queens and a transsexual (an endlessly delightful trio played by Guy Pierce, Hugo Weaving and Terrance Stamp) put on a cabaret in the middle of the desert. Hilarity ensues.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>2. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102494/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">My Own Private Idaho</a></strong></p><p>Take the perfect casting of River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves as gay hustlers, combine with the surrealist direction of Gus Van Sant and add a non-linear storyline set against the backdrop of early &#39;90s Portland for a film that re-defined &quot;indie&quot; for a new generation.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>1. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100332/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Paris is Burning</a></strong></p><p>In my opinion, this chronicle of New York City&#39;s drag scene in the late 1980s (including the vivacious, voguing performers who dream of becoming something more) is one of the most important and influential documentaries ever made. Do yourself a favor and see it&mdash;because if your experience watching this film is anything like mine, then it will change your life forever.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Honorable Mentions </strong>(not so much because I love them, but because they are beloved): <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089015/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Desert Hearts</a> (1985),&nbsp;<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115736/?ref_=sr_3" target="_blank">Bound</a>&nbsp;(1996), <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069089/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Pink Flamingos</a>&nbsp;(1972), <a href="http://wiki" target="_blank">But I&#39;m a Cheerleader</a>&nbsp;(1999)&nbsp;and <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073629/" target="_blank">The Rocky Horror Picture Show</a>&nbsp;(1975).&nbsp;</p><p>What are your favorite LGBTQ films?</p><p><em>Leah writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a> or <a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 28 Jun 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-06/take-pride-gay-cinema-107890 'God is not a bully' spreads message of love to LGBTQ people http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-06/god-not-bully-spreads-message-love-lgbtq-people-107761 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ap091027012540-8d220f817238e983ba45441089b07fd1e3a1148a-s3.jpg" title="Andreas Schoelzel/AP" /></p><p>When I came out in my church I was 16 and still wearing ascots for ties. I was a mop of hair looking for guidance in the faith that had given me a home. I chose to be a Baptist because of its overt grounding in community and its personalism over the Latin coldness of my mother&rsquo;s Catholicism. Being a Baptist was a call to dance, and there can&rsquo;t be a revolution without dancing.</p><p>Then I was called into the Pastor&rsquo;s office. He gave me a choice. I could choose either my &ldquo;desires&rdquo; or my religion. The church could never be a home for my perversion.</p><p>But it wasn&rsquo;t just God&rsquo;s flock that was after me. God himself was waiting for me&mdash;with a sniper rifle. The Pastor told me about the high rates of HIV, depression, suicide and death from drug use in the gay community as empirical evidence of divine wrath.</p><p>&ldquo;God&rsquo;s waiting to cut you down,&rdquo; he claimed. &ldquo;And he&rsquo;ll get you eventually, when you least expect it.&rdquo;</p><p>I left the church, where I&rsquo;d been renowned for my poetry. I even placed in a national competition for it, but I felt like that voice would never be heard. I hugged the people who loved me goodbye, the ones who vocally supported my coming out. They felt like I could make a difference.</p><p>However, the pastor&rsquo;s hate spoke louder. I wasn&rsquo;t strong enough yet to let Him hate me, so I gave him up. I closed the door.</p><p>A new movement is working to tear down the barriers to entry for those who have been excluded from the church and told they didn&rsquo;t fit the definition of God&rsquo;s love. God Is Not a Bully is a video project in which LGBTQ people share the message that &ldquo;God is love, not hate&rdquo; by telling their personal experiences of religion and finding embrace for exactly who they are, all of it.</p><p>&ldquo;I know that the bullying rhetoric of religion and of people in power in the Church has a devastating effect on queer people,&rdquo; Cathy Knight, the project&rsquo;s Executive Director, said. &ldquo;Young people in particular look up to clergy folks, believe what they say as authority as they develop their own belief system. When clergy espouse that LGBTQ people are an abomination and a sin, that message is internalized. The shame and heartache begins.&rdquo;</p><p>For Knight, this speaks to her own journey as a person of faith, where she and many of her friends struggled with the pain that comes from feeling like you have nowhere to belong.</p><p>&ldquo;I attended United Methodist Churches for years, hearing the annual sermon that I was a sinner because of my sexual orientation,&quot; Knight said. &ldquo;The confusion of the message and how I felt about myself had to be numbed out. I turned to drugs to stay sane. I was a drug addict, but I kept going to church.&rdquo;</p><p>She found spiritual guidance by discovering a congregation that affirmed multiplicity of identities, where she could be an out lesbian who also followed the message of Jesus Christ. Knight believes that there&rsquo;s an internal struggle within the church right now toward opening the doors and closing the windows, where the Pope can say that atheists can be good people and go to heaven but the institution of the church retracts it.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s hard to change something that often doesn&rsquo;t want to change,&rdquo; Knight said.</p><p>God Is Not a Bully doesn&rsquo;t hope to change religion, but provide a resource for its queer followers.</p><p>Anna DeShawn, the founder of E3 Radio and a collaborator on the project, says that many single out queer people for marginalization by highlighting the Clobber scriptures&mdash;or the Bible verses devoted to condemning homosexuality&mdash;and taking a literal interpretation.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re used to control people,&rdquo; DeShawn said. &ldquo;If we did that for every verse in the Bible, we wouldn&rsquo;t eat meat and we would be sacrificing sons.&rdquo;</p><p>DeShawn hopes that sharing the stories will challenge the restrictive messages of hate and reclaim God by changing the conversation.</p><p>&ldquo;We embarked upon this project to uplift and encourage young people who are struggling with their sexuality and their faith,&rdquo; DeShawn said. &ldquo;The stories that have been shared are real and my hope is that the message will touch the hearts of those that watch.&quot;</p><p>In a video on the project&#39;s <a href="http://www.cwac.us/video/my-god-not-bully-videos" style="text-decoration:none;" target="_blank">website</a>, Emily McConnell discusses her own personal understanding of religion as a child, inspired by her diverse upbringing.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t agree with any fundamentalist idea of God,&rdquo; McConnell said. &nbsp;&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t agree with anybody who told me that any group of people were automatically condemned for something they didn&rsquo;t have a choice in.&quot;</p><p>Instead McConnell understood God as &ldquo;universal&rdquo; and his love as &ldquo;extending to those of all kinds.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Any kind of sexuality [is] a gift from God,&rdquo; she argued.</p><p>You can find McConnell&rsquo;s story along with those of others on the God Is Not a Bully website. The campaign will post videos throughout the month of June for pride month.</p><p>Their videos won&rsquo;t open every window to religion. But for queer religious people struggling in the dark like I was, they offer some much needed light.</p><p><em>Nico Lang writes about LGBTQ issues in Chicago. You can follow Nico on <a href="http://www.facebook/nicorlang">Facebook</a>, <a href="http://www.twitter.com/nico_lang">Twitter</a> or <a href="http://achatwithnicolang.tumblr.com">Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 19 Jun 2013 00:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-06/god-not-bully-spreads-message-love-lgbtq-people-107761 Want to get back at the politicans who denied marriage equality? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-06/want-get-back-politicans-who-denied-marriage-equality-107564 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS5276_IMG_2395-scr.JPG" style="height: 210px; width: 280px; float: right;" title="File: Mayor Rahm Emanuel. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />The failure of the Illinois state legislature to pass the marriage equality bill has certain folks suggesting payback for those elected officials at, of all misguided and silly things, the annual Pride Parade coming up June 30. There&rsquo;s even <a href="http://www.change.org/petitions/deny-entry-of-illinois-politicians-in-44th-annual-chicago-pride-parade" target="_blank">a petition</a> over at Change.org asking that politicians be denied entry into the parade. It&rsquo;s already garnered more than 1,800 signatures.<br /><br />But as Tracey Baim very reasonably explains in a current editorial in <em>Windy City Times</em>, it&rsquo;s a <a href="http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Editorial-Politicians-and-Pride/43080.html" target="_blank">questionable tactic</a>.&nbsp; For starters, the only two state reps who are registered to participate are Greg Harris and Sarah Feigenholtz. Denying them would actually be denying ourselves.<br /><br />And, anyway, it&rsquo;s too late: the Parade is set, whomever was going to come and party with us decided to do so before the vote on marriage equality. Want to make a political calculation out of the parade? Count the absences, then cross reference them with the promises we&rsquo;ve been hearing this last year.<br /><br />Over at the <em>Reader</em>, Ben Joravsky makes some <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2013/06/05/gay-marriage-breakdown-the-republican-state-of-chicagos-democratic-politics" target="_blank">salient observations</a>&nbsp;about the vote: It boils down to House Speaker Michael Madigan and Mayor Rahm Emanuel suckering the LGBTQ community for bucks and votes in exchange for their &ldquo;concern&rdquo; and &ldquo;support.&rdquo;<br /><br />As Joravsky explains, there&rsquo;s a Democratic majority, with a sitting governor who&rsquo;s promised to sign the marriage equality bill, and a speaker whose better known as the Great and Powerful Oz. The math doesn&rsquo;t add up, especially when you factor in the passing of Emanuel&rsquo;s pet project, the $300 million <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/sports/20113457-419/with-rahms-depaul-plan-weve-entered-a-new-arena-of-stupidity.html" target="_blank">giveaway to the Catholic Church</a> at McCormick Place. I&rsquo;m referring to the new DePaul stadium, a project announced and passed in less than a month&rsquo;s time, with barely a breath for citizens to respond.<br /><br />Think about that and the years it&rsquo;s taken to bring marriage equality up for consideration. Think about the kind of power that can put that kind of deal together in such a blink of the eye but then chooses to sit on its hands for marriage equality.<br /><br />Michael Madigan and Rahm Emanuel both claim to be strong LGBTQ supporters.<br /><br />So what happened?<br /><br />Joravsky suggests that keeping the LGBTQ community on the precipice of equality means we keep giving to make it happen. A personal ATM, that&rsquo;s what he says we are to Madigan and Emanuel.<br /><br />And I don&rsquo;t think he&rsquo;s wrong.<br /><br />But I also think there&rsquo;s a different deal going down, and it&rsquo;s less about us and more about Madigan. By denying Gov. Pat Quinn important legislative victories&mdash;same-sex marriage, pension reform&mdash;he&rsquo;s setting the stage to run daughter Lisa against him.<br /><br />Some activists recently called for <a href="http://progressillinois.com/posts/content/2013/06/03/marriage-equality-advocates-disappointed-we-were-promised-vote-video">holding Lisa Madigan responsible</a> based precisely on this reasoning.&nbsp; That too would be disappointing: We don&rsquo;t visit the sins of the fathers on their children in this country, and Lisa Madigan has been an unwavering&mdash;and real&mdash;supporter.<br /><br />And some even called for Harris&mdash;the gay Representative who led the pro-marriage charge&mdash;to pay a price for backing away from calling a vote. Madness, if you ask me. Has anyone been more dedicated?<br /><br />Want to get back at those state legislators who actually screwed us? Don&rsquo;t vote for them. Don&rsquo;t vote for their acolytes. Don&rsquo;t vote for Emanuel, no matter how chiseled and flirty he is at the next big gay event. Keep your hands in your pockets and don&rsquo;t give a dime to any of them.<br /><br />Want to get some respect? Stop playing the spurned lover.</p></p> Thu, 06 Jun 2013 09:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-06/want-get-back-politicans-who-denied-marriage-equality-107564 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 The Kate Hunt saga http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-05/kate-hunt-saga-107375 <p><p>The deadline came Friday and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-05/hate-air-lgbtq-setbacks-107291#comments">Kate Hunt, the Florida 18 year-old</a> accused&nbsp; of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/19/kaitlyn-hunt-florida-teen-felony-same-sex_n_3302713.html">&quot;lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 to 16 years-old,&quot;</a> rejected a plea deal offer by the state&rsquo;s attorney, meaning the case goes to trial June 20.<br /><br />The <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/05/21/gay-teen-underage-girlfriend/2347989/">deal would have meant</a> two years of house arrest, one year of probation and a conviction of child abuse (rather than be required to register as a sex offender for life). It would have, in effect, kept Hunt from going to college and likely ended any chance she could ever have a career involving minors, including her choice of nursing. In other words: Hunt would have been stigmatized for life.<br /><br />When news broke of the case &ndash; a pair of high school Juliets apparently caught in the web of homophobia and laws aimed at adult predators of minor children &ndash; there was a wave of sympathy for Hunt, whose family has come out in force to defend her, creating a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/groups/FreeKate/?fref=ts">Facebook page</a> to explain their side, raising funds for a legal defense, and selling &ldquo;Free Kate&rdquo; t-shirts to that end.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-05-27%20at%202.18.25%20PM.png" style="height: 218px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="Kate Hunt supporter at a Florida Pridefest event (Facebook)" /></p><p>But in the last week or so, at least two events have caused some reconsideration. Those include the decision by the state&rsquo;s attorney and sheriff&rsquo;s office to release the arrest affidavit (which includes details of both sexual acts and, in its dry clinical language, actually reads like the worst pornography &ndash;&nbsp;and, no, I&rsquo;m not going to link it: it&rsquo;s easy enough to find) as well as recordings from <a href="http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/kaitlyn-hunt-phone-calls-released-by-indian-river-county-sheriffs-office">a taped conversation between the two girls</a>, and the decision of <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/teen-rejects-plea-deal-same-sex-relationship-case-article-1.1354721">her younger girlfriend&rsquo;s family</a> to finally speak to the press.<br /><br />Not surprisingly, the families tell different stories. These events seemed to have affected the some folks, even over at <em>Daily Kos</em>, who&rsquo;d originally come out strong for Hunt, and woulnd up <a href="http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/05/20/1210464/-Falling-in-love-with-another-girl-lands-Florida-teen-in-criminal-jeopardy#">taking back a petition</a> supporting her. (A petition at <a href="http://www.change.org/freekate">Change.org</a> continues full steam ahead).<br /><br />From everything I can tell, here&rsquo;s the story:<br /><br />* There is a three-year, seven-month difference in age between Hunt and the younger girl.<br /><br />* They met at school, where they were classmates and peers because the younger girl is in an International Baccalaureate program. They were also on the varsity <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/05/21/gay-teen-underage-girlfriend/2347989/">basketball team together</a>. In the arrest affidavit, Hunt says she didn&rsquo;t think about the age difference because the girl acted older. The younger girl is actually taller and looks older than Hunt.<br /><br />* The relationship began sometime in the fall, when Hunt was 18 and the girl was 14. They had sex twice: once in a school bathroom (this really seems to get some people because it sounds so lurid but &ndash; seriously &ndash; is this that far-fetched for a pair of high school kids?) and another time at Hunt&rsquo;s house, after the girl ran away from home and Hunt went to pick her up.<br /><br />* The relationship appears to be a first for both girls. Hunt&rsquo;s mother said she&rsquo;d only dated boys up until this point. In the recorded phone, Hunt tells the younger girl she&rsquo;s in love with her.<br /><br />* Hunt&rsquo;s mother says she assumed the younger girl&rsquo;s parents, Jim and Laurie Smith, knew about the relationship. She does not describe Hunt as a lesbian &ndash; she considers the relationship a normal part of teen experimentation &ndash; but she does accuse the Smiths of being religious anti-gay zealots. She says they should have come to their family first before going to the authorities to deal with the matter between families. At one point, she also sad the Smiths waited until Hunt turned 18 to get her arrested, an accusation which appears to be contradicted by the arrest warrant.<br /><br />* The Smiths say the <a href="http://www.cbs12.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_7589.shtml">same sex issue is not their concern</a>, that it&rsquo;s the age difference (something they might have given some thought to before signing off on their daughter&rsquo;s IB matriculation). They also say they twice warned Hunt to stay away from their daughter (which means that either Hunt didn&rsquo;t share this with her family, or her mother deliberately ignores it in the retelling, or it never happened). They also <a href="http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/05/22/anti-gay-bias-or-fair-punishment-new-details-emerge-about-high-school-students-lesbian-relationship-with-a-minor/">blame Hunt</a> for their daughter&rsquo;s running away. They claim they went to authorities when all else proved futile.<br /><br />* I can&rsquo;t find anything about the Smith&rsquo;s religious affiliations but the State&rsquo;s Attorney on the case, Bruce Colton, who claims this is not a LGBTQ issue, is a Republican who was <a href="http://www.dougholder.com/2012-florida-christians-voter-guide-candidate-endorsements/">endorsed by Christian voting groups</a> in the last election. Colton also recently dropped similar charges against <a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/kaitlyn-hunt-charged-with-felony-but-another-teen-freed-for-similar-charges">another 18 year-old girl</a> in a case involving a 15 year-old girl, so why he seems to be doubling down on Hunt is somewhat of a mystery.<br /><br />* Hunt&rsquo;s mother says Hunt was kicked out of high school, in spite of two judges orders allowing her to stay, because the Smiths pressed the school board. There may be some truth to that, but it&rsquo;s also true that sex in school bathrooms is against the school&rsquo;s student code and may be at least, the technical reason for her expulsion.<br /><br />* The Hunts have been careful to insist the younger girl is not cooperating and has said the relationship is consensual. But the younger girl has no legal right to consent in Florida. And she has either cooperated or been coerced into cooperation in both the arrest affidavit and the recorded phone call. She&rsquo;ll be called to the stand during the trial, though her testimony may not be necessary for conviction: Hunt admitted both sexual encounters to the arresting officer after she was Mirandized. Hunt could get as much as 15 years in jail and be required to register as a sex offender.<br /><br />* There is a chance that, even if convicted, Hunt could apply to have her record expunged under <a href="http://definitions.uslegal.com/r/romeo-and-juliet-law/">Florida&rsquo;s &ldquo;Romeo &amp; Juliet&rdquo; law</a>, which erases convictions when the partners have less than a four year age difference. In the meantime, a Republican state senator, Thad Altman, has said <a href="https://www.facebook.com/groups/FreeKate/permalink/196758677142825/">he&rsquo;ll introduce a bill</a> that will ease matters for high schoolers caught up in laws aimed at adult child predators.<br /><br />All of which brings me back to my original take on this story: It seems like a fairly typical high school romance blown completely out of proportion, particularly by the parents.<br /><br />First, the Smiths: it seems, they don&rsquo;t seem to know much about what their daughter is up to (they found out about the relationship from the basketball coach, who told Mrs. Smith, an assistant to the coach). They didn&rsquo;t seem to have given much thought to what having their daughter attend school with older kids might mean &ndash; older kids, let&rsquo;s be honest, right smack in the midst of sexual discovery. I am also mystified they didn&rsquo;t seek out the Hunts in trying to keep things under control. Their warnings to Hunt seems to ignore that their daughter sought out Hunt when she ran away.<br /><br />What is the relationship with their own daughter? Kids don&rsquo;t run away without a reason. Everybody in Indian River nows who their daughter is now, and would have known even without the Hunts&rsquo; media campaign. How smart was it to expose her to all that? And is putting their kid on the witness stand against her girlfriend a good idea &ndash; I don&rsquo;t mean legally, I mean psychologically? While I&rsquo;m sure a sexually active 14 year-old can be unnerving to parents regardless of orientation, I&rsquo;m not convinced by any of the Smiths&rsquo; public statements &ndash; all very gay neutral &ndash; that they aren&rsquo;t particularly freaked out by their daughter&rsquo;s same sex attraction. They say they want to hold Hunt responsible and don&rsquo;t want her to do jail time. But they have also rejected Hunt&rsquo;s offer to leave the state and never contact their daughter. What do they want then? It&rsquo;s unclear.<br /><br />And second, the Hunts: I get their crazy-over-the-top protect-my-baby above all things campaign. I get her legal defense is an extraordinary expenditure they didn&rsquo;t anticipate and that they need help. I admire the unconditional support they&rsquo;re giving their child. But the campaign has also been a Pandora&rsquo;s Box. The Hunts, I&rsquo;m sure, didn&rsquo;t anticipate the details of their daughter&rsquo;s tryst would be splashed in newspapers all over the world. They&rsquo;ve also created a public gay persona for Hunt which may or may not mirror her actual sexual identity. Even if somehow Hunt gets off, or the charges are reduced to a misdemeanor, this story will follow her forever.<br /><br />In other words, both of these girls will need a long, long recovery from this ordeal.</p></p> Mon, 27 May 2013 10:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-05/kate-hunt-saga-107375