WBEZ | lgbt http://www.wbez.org/tags/lgbt Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en US announces protections for transgender workers http://www.wbez.org/news/us-announces-protections-transgender-workers-111265 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flag.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON &nbsp;&mdash; The Justice Department is now interpreting federal law to explicitly prohibit workplace discrimination against transgender people, according to a memo released Thursday by Attorney General Eric Holder.</p><p>That means the Justice Department will be able to bring legal claims on behalf of people who say they&#39;ve been discriminated against by state and local public employers based on sex identity. In defending lawsuits, the federal government also will no longer take the position that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bans sex discrimination, does not protect against workplace discrimination on the basis of gender status.</p><p>The memo released Thursday is part of a broader Obama administration effort to afford workplace protection for transgender employees. In July, President Barack Obama ordered employment protection for gay and transgender employees who work for the U.S. government or for companies holding federal contracts.</p><p>The new position is a reversal in position for the Justice Department, which in 2006 stated that Title VII did not cover discrimination based on transgender status.</p><p>&quot;The federal government&#39;s approach to this issue has also evolved over time,&quot; Holder wrote in the memo, saying his position was based on the &quot;most straightforward reading&quot; of the law.</p><p>The memo covers all components of the Justice Department as well as all U.S. Attorneys&#39; offices. The Justice Department does not have authority to sue private employers, and the new memo does not affect that.</p></p> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/us-announces-protections-transgender-workers-111265 HIV diagnosis leads two friends down different paths http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/hiv-diagnosis-leads-two-friends-down-different-paths-110823 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps-140919-Mark-Rick-bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&ldquo;Drug addiction is really exhausting,&rdquo; Mark S. King says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps, recorded at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago&rsquo;s Loop, in conjunction with the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association&rsquo;s annual convention. &ldquo;I was here in this very hotel maybe eight years ago, and was in a room upstairs for five days and never left my room.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Why&rsquo;s that?&rdquo; his friend Rick Guasco asks him.</p><p>&ldquo;Because I had a crystal meth pipe in my mouth and was smoking and injecting crystal meth for five days.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s kind of surprising to hear you say that,&rdquo; Guasco says. &ldquo;So how did you fall into it?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;What happened to me&hellip;It was about 1996 and we had just gone through 15 years of pure hell in the gay community, with AIDS. And I had certainly seen that. I had lived through the &lsquo;80s as an HIV-positive person in West Hollywood. And in 1996, at long last, we had these medications that came out&hellip;and for the first time almost since the crisis began the dying seemed to almost stop in its tracks.</p><p>&ldquo;And It was kind of at that nexus of new medications beginning and gay men looking for a reason to celebrate. And it wasn&rsquo;t long until crystal meth started creeping into that equation, creeping into our community.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s where drug addiction takes you: It makes your world very, very small. You keep shutting out everything else and you&rsquo;re left in a small room, in a hotel room, with you and the drugs and nothing else.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Those of us who have lived with HIV for a longtime&hellip;We came out of it one or two ways: Either we came out of it with a strong sense of empathy and sadness and wanting to do our best to help and understand. Or you come out of it with a real sense of judgment and bitterness, as if this is a new phenomenon amongst young people.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I do feel a little sad and scared for younger gay men. I&rsquo;m not judgmental. I worry for them,&rdquo; Guasco says. &ldquo;I had developed Kaposi&rsquo;s Sarcoma&hellip;the spots. And there were more of them on my legs, and I started to get nervous, worried. And I fell into the sense of denial. The first spot came in May. I didn&rsquo;t get tested until December. And a week before Christmas that year, I found out that yes, indeed, I was HIV-positive.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We have two HIV warhorses here,&rdquo; King says. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re learning as we go along. And that&rsquo;s what I try to keep in mind when we are speaking to other gay men, young or old, about how best to get a handle on this epidemic.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 08:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/hiv-diagnosis-leads-two-friends-down-different-paths-110823 Morning Shift: LGBT blue collar workers still face adversity http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-06-20/morning-shift-lgbt-blue-collar-workers-still-face <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ex.png" alt="" /><p><p>We take a closer look at an Illinois exoneree and how he&#39;s trying to put his life back together. And, we talk about the risks some LGBT blue collar workers still face. Then, the sounds of pianist Kuang-Hao Huang, who previews Make Music Chicago.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-lgbt-blue-collar-workers-still-face/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-lgbt-blue-collar-workers-still-face.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-lgbt-blue-collar-workers-still-face" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: LGBT blue collar workers still face adversity" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 07:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-06-20/morning-shift-lgbt-blue-collar-workers-still-face The music of Brazil's favelas http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-06-11/music-brazils-favelas-110320 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP392232449892.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The 2014 World Cup begins in Brazil tomorrow. There&#39;s an official World Cup song, but it doesn&#39;t necessarily include any of the homegrown sounds coming out of Rio&#39;s favelas. &nbsp;We&#39;ll explore the roots of favela funk with Morning Shift and Radio M host Tony Sarabia.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-the-music-of-brazil-s-favelas/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-the-music-of-brazil-s-favelas.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-the-music-of-brazil-s-favelas" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: The music of Brazil's favelas" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 11:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-06-11/music-brazils-favelas-110320 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 Morning Shift: A look at the latest rideshare legislation http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-05-16/morning-shift-look-latest-rideshare-legislation <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cover Flickr kaysha.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We get an update on the future of the rideshare industry. We compare the office styles of baby boomers and millennials. And, a preview of prom weekend taking place for some CPS students.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-a-look-at-the-latest-rideshare-legis/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-a-look-at-the-latest-rideshare-legis.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-a-look-at-the-latest-rideshare-legis" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: A look at the latest rideshare legislation" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 16 May 2014 08:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-05-16/morning-shift-look-latest-rideshare-legislation Could Illinois' next governor undo same-sex marriage? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/could-illinois-next-governor-undo-same-sex-marriage-109844 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/thumb_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicagoan Christie Pettitt-Schieber has spent a lot of time thinking about the future of same-sex marriage in Illinois. Apparently, so has her girlfriend of two years.</p><p>As Pettitt-Scheiber tells it: &ldquo;She goes on Etsy all the time, and she will, pull up, like, hundreds and hundreds of engagement rings, and then force me to look at the website and go, &lsquo;Do you like this one? Do you like this one? What do you think about this one?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But before they take the plunge, Pettitt-Schieber, 26, asked Curious City a more fundamental question about Illinois&rsquo; gay marriage law, which was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-says-he-will-sign-marriage-equality-bill-month-109084" target="_blank">approved by the legislature</a> late last year and is set to take effect statewide on June 1st.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Could the next governor reverse the same-sex marriage legislation that just passed?</em></p><p>Gay marriage has been a hot-button political issue in Illinois for a few years, and the allegiances and beliefs involved don&rsquo;t always break along party lines. After months of furious lobbying and nose-counting by both backers and opponents, the bill to legalize same-sex marriages passed by a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-says-he-will-sign-marriage-equality-bill-month-109084" target="_blank">narrow margin</a> in the state House in early November.</p><p>But the foundation of Christie&rsquo;s question gets to an apolitical issue: the relationship between the branches of Illinois government.</p><p><strong>Illinois Civics: 101</strong></p><p>To find out whether an Illinois governor could unilaterally undo the state&rsquo;s same-sex marriage law &mdash; or any law, for that matter &mdash; we called up Charles Wheeler, director of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield and an expert on the state constitution.</p><p>Wheeler&rsquo;s answer is pretty straightforward: &ldquo;No.&rdquo;</p><p>But there&rsquo;s a civics lesson behind that &ldquo;no.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;The Illinois governor has no ability to unilaterally rewrite the statutes,&rdquo; Wheeler said. The only way a governor could undo a state law was by the same way it was done in the first place: with the approval of a majority of state Senators and Representatives.</p><p>The closest an Illinois governor can get to ruling by fiat is an executive order, Wheeler said. But the <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/commission/lrb/con5.htm" target="_blank">Illinois Constitution</a> only lets governors use that power to reorganize parts of state government, not to magic away laws they dislike. And even then, the legislature can overturn an order.</p><p>But that doesn&rsquo;t mean governors haven&rsquo;t tried.</p><p>When former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached by the Illinois House in 2009, the charges against him weren&rsquo;t limited to the corruption that would later send him to prison. Buried in the <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/95/HR/09500HR1671.htm" target="_blank">laundry list</a> of Blagojevich&rsquo;s misdeeds was Article 9, which accused him of &ldquo;utter disregard of the doctrine of separation of powers&rdquo; when he unilaterally expanded a state healthcare program that the legislature rejected.</p><p>Complicating matters more recently is a ruling <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/judge-allows-same-sex-couples-marry-cook-county-starting-now-109751" target="_blank">last month</a> by Chicago Federal Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman, ordering that gay couples in Cook County must be issued marriage licenses immediately, rather than waiting for the new law&rsquo;s original June 1 start date. Coleman <a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/140221%20Federal%20gay%20marriage%20ruling%20Cook%20County.pdf" target="_blank">wrote</a> that the state&rsquo;s current prohibition of same-sex marriages (which is still in effect until June) violates the U.S. Constitution. That ruling <a href="http://www.senatormccarter.com/index.cfm?sectionid=22&amp;parentid=21&amp;sectiontree=21,22&amp;itemid=532" target="_blank">put an end</a> to one downstate Illinois Senator&rsquo;s move to repeal the gay marriage law.</p><p>For Wheeler, all of this adds up to one conclusion: &ldquo;I would be willing to bet any amount of money that Illinois will not repeal same-sex marriage.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Answers from the candidates</strong></p><p>Given that any repeal of the gay marriage law would take an act of political will (versus executive decree), Curious City asked the two Democrats and six Republicans running in the March 18th gubernatorial primary whether they would work to overturn same-sex marriage.</p><p>Some answers required some tooth-pulling (as you&rsquo;ll hear in the <a href="#playlist">audio excerpts</a>&nbsp;below), but here&rsquo;s what they had to say.</p><p><strong>Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn:</strong> &ldquo;The Governor led the charge to make Illinois the 16th state to embrace full marriage equality, and he is proud to have gotten the job done,&rdquo; spokeswoman Brooke Anderson wrote in an email. &ldquo;This was a major step forward for Illinois. As long as he&rsquo;s Governor, he will defend this law and make sure all couples have equal rights in Illinois.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Democrat Tio Hardiman, anti-violence advocate:</strong> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the law. If somebody was to bring some legislation to my desk, we would look at it. But ... I plan to enforce that law. People need to be happy in their lives. I&rsquo;m not here to, you know, try to play God with people&rsquo;s lives.&rdquo;</p><p>The four candidates running for the Republican Party&rsquo;s nomination <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/videogallery/79102861/Live-Republican-candidates-for-Illinois-governor" target="_blank">were asked a similar question recently</a> by the Chicago Tribune editorial board.</p><p><strong>Republican Illinois State Sen. Bill Brady:</strong> &ldquo;I&rsquo;d be consistent with my position,&rdquo; Brady said. He clarified that he would sign a repeal &ldquo;if it came to me,&rdquo; but added &ldquo;it&rsquo;s unrealistic to even address the issue.&rdquo; Brady <a href="http://ilga.gov/legislation/votehistory/98/senate/09800SB0010_11052013_001000C.pdf" target="_blank">voted against the bill</a> in the legislature.</p><p><strong>Republican businessman Bruce Rauner: </strong>&ldquo;I would not sign it if there hasn&rsquo;t been a referendum on it. I wanna see what the voters want on that issue. I won&rsquo;t take any action on that issue unless I see what the voters want.&rdquo; Rauner has repeatedly refused to reveal how he feels about gay marriage.</p><p><strong>Republican Illinois State Sen. Kirk Dillard:</strong> &ldquo;If [a repeal] got to my desk [I would sign it], but that&rsquo;s not gonna happen. Let&rsquo;s focus on things like the economy and how we&rsquo;re gonna fix the state&rsquo;s finances.&rdquo; Dillard <a href="http://ilga.gov/legislation/votehistory/98/senate/09800SB0010_11052013_001000C.pdf" target="_blank">voted against the bill</a> in the legislature.</p><p><strong>Republican Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford: </strong>&nbsp;&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not gonna get to the desk. It&rsquo;s not gonna pass. It&rsquo;s not gonna get there. It is the law. ... I did not support the bill from the religious standpoint of it.&rdquo; Rutherford was out of the legislature when the same-sex marriage bill was passed, though he previously <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/votehistory/96/senate/09600SB1716_12012010_006000C.pdf" target="_blank">voted in favor</a> of same-sex civil unions when he was a state senator.<a name="playlist"></a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/26498163&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>It&rsquo;s all politics</strong></p><p>If the unilateral repeal of gay marriage by an Illinois governor is legally impossible, it&rsquo;s also politically improbable, said Gregg Durham, an Illinois pollster who has worked with many Republican candidates (though he said he is not currently working for any gubernatorial campaign.)</p><p>Durham said the Republican candidates&rsquo; hesitation to talk about repealing gay marriage &mdash; even if they believe it should be repealed &mdash; is because it&rsquo;s a losing issue for the Illinois GOP.</p><p>&ldquo;I would tell them to run away as fast as they could from the question,&rdquo; Durham said.</p><p>Why?</p><p>Public opinion, for one: Durham&rsquo;s polling reflects growing approval of same-sex marriage in Illinois, and more resignation from people who are still opposed to it.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re starting to hear less and less about changing it, and more about, &lsquo;Fine, can we get onto more important issues now?&rsquo;&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Durham also cites the political math in Springfield. Democrats enjoy large majorities in both houses of the General Assembly, and the party has two powerful leaders &mdash; House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. Both exercise broad control over which bills are actually called up for a vote.</p><p>And even with those hefty majorities, and the support of some heavy-hitting Democratic pols, the gay marriage vote was still a tough one for rank-and-file lawmakers. And the difficulty wasn&rsquo;t just for Republicans, whose party platform defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.</p><p>Durham&rsquo;s own polling also showed opposition from some Democrats in Chicago and southern Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;No one likes to pay for real estate twice,&rdquo; Durham said. &ldquo;The passage of that bill took a long time and a lot of effort by a lot of people. Now they don&rsquo;t wanna go back and have a second vote on it &mdash; anybody, probably on either side of the issue.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe">Alex Keefe</a> is a political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028">Google+</a>.</em></p><p><em>Note: This report received additional support through <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center">Front &amp; Center</a>, an occasional WBEZ series funded by The Joyce Foundation. </em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 12 Mar 2014 15:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/could-illinois-next-governor-undo-same-sex-marriage-109844 LGBT members in NW Indiana fight against same-sex marriage amendment proposal http://www.wbez.org/news/lgbt-members-nw-indiana-fight-against-same-sex-marriage-amendment-proposal-109682 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Indiana LGBT two-way.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Indiana is a step closer to cementing the state&rsquo;s ban on same-sex marriage for possibly years to come. The state already outlaws same-sex marriage.</p><p>On Monday a senate committee passed a measure that would enshrine the ban in the state&rsquo;s constitution. Pushed by Governor Mike Pence, it goes before the full Senate later this week.</p><p>But not everyone supports the constitutional ban, known as House Joint Resolution 3. The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce says it could hurt in attracting top talent to the state.</p><p>And some members of the LGBT community wonder why the Hoosier state is moving in the opposite direction of neighboring Illinois.</p><p>They recently sat down for a conversation with WBEZ&rsquo;s Michael Puente at our bureau in Crown Point, Ind.</p></p> Tue, 11 Feb 2014 11:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/lgbt-members-nw-indiana-fight-against-same-sex-marriage-amendment-proposal-109682 Reeling Film Fest returns with a different take on queer cinema http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-10/reeling-film-fest-returns-different-take-queer-cinema-108773 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/reeling photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>After three decades, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/reeling.filmfest">Reeling: The Chicago LGBT International Film Festival</a> is making a few changes.</p><p>There&rsquo;s the new name, which now includes bisexual and transgender in the title (though most still know the fest by its shorthand name, Reeling).</p><p>The fest also has a new location, at the <a href="http://www.thelogantheatre.com/">Logan Theatre </a>in Chicago&rsquo;s Logan Square neighborhood.</p><p>And there&rsquo;s a new approach to what constitutes queer cinema, thanks to new programming director <a href="http://www.knightatthemovies.com/Knight_at_the_Movies_About_Me.html">Richard Knight Jr</a>. The lineup was announced Wednesday night.</p><p>&ldquo;I wanted to bring some films into the festival that were not exclusively gay, gay gay,&rdquo; said Knight. &ldquo;... It&rsquo;s certainly there. But it&rsquo;s not like two guys meeting in a bar sort of thing.&rdquo;</p><p>One of those films will close the fest. Ludwig II is about a 19th century Bavarian monarch. The film isn&rsquo;t explicitly a work of queer cinema, but Knight saw it differently.</p><p>&ldquo;When you see the movie, it&rsquo;s gay. He&rsquo;s in love with the horsemaster, he has erotic dreams, he kisses him,&rdquo; said Knight. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not very often that you see a $70 million epic around a gay figure.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>As the longtime film critic for Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/windycitytimes.php">Windy City Times</a>, Knight said he took the job at Reeling because he loves queer cinema and the thought of showing these films was &ldquo;tantalizing.&rdquo;</p><p>But getting audiences onboard hasn&rsquo;t been as easy. In recent years the festival has struggled to find funding. Last year organizers took a break to assess the situation and, as it turns out, retool the festival.</p><p>Knight said he&rsquo;s had had to learn in short order how to balance his artistic interests with commercial realities.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s more of a consideration than I thought it would be,&rdquo; said Knight. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know how (executive director) Brenda Webb has done this for 30 years.&rdquo;</p><p>The 31st Reeling Film Festival opens Nov. 7.</p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter and co-hosts the WBEZ podcasts <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels</a> and <a href="https://soundcloud.com/strangebrews">Strange Brews</a>. Follow her on<a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter</a>,<a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn"> Facebook</a> and<a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram</a></em></p></p> Thu, 26 Sep 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-10/reeling-film-fest-returns-different-take-queer-cinema-108773 Should we use the 'L word' for Jane Addams? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/should-we-use-l-word-jane-addams-108619 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JABE%20ADDAMS%20TOPPER.jpg" title="" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F109020582&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Note: we also aired a segment about Jane Addams&#39; work and the Hull-House legacy on<a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-09-06/afternoon-shift-jane-addams-columbia-college-creative-writing">&nbsp;the Afternoon Shift</a>. You can listen to that <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/should-we-use-l-word-jane-addams-108619#Afternoonshift">segment here</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p>In the early 20th century, <a href="http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/_learn/_aboutjane/aboutjane.html">Jane Addams</a> was among the most famous women in America. The Chicagoan worked, lived and <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=aAnLrCOHRQ8C&amp;pg=PA181&amp;lpg=PA181&amp;dq=love+on+halsted+street,+louise+knight&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=RWB0IeyMbw&amp;sig=JT3I6ZKzYfEY2sNnG9AKxHffSrI&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=6rknUpXxEIaayQHLiIDQDQ&amp;ved=0CC4Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&amp;q=love%20on%20halsted%20street%2C%20louise%20knight&amp;f=false">loved </a>on Halsted Street in the <a href="http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/_learn/_abouthullhouse/abouthullhouse.html">Hull-House settlement</a> she co-founded with <a href="http://asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/sophiasmith/mnsss64_bioghist.html">Ellen Gates Starr</a>. Her career was one of struggle and triumph as she organized, fought for social services on behalf of immigrants, children, women and other disenfranchised groups. At one point the FBI considered her &ldquo;<a href="http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/_museum/_museum/historyoncall/fbifile.html">the most dangerous woman in America</a>.&rdquo; In 1931 she became the first American woman to earn the <a href="http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1931/addams-bio.html">Nobel Peace Prize</a>. Addams passed away in 1935.</p><p>The only two remaining buildings of Addams&rsquo;s once 13-building Hull-House settlement are easy to miss on the vast campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago, which overtook the area. And recent UIC graduate Adam Peterson used to pass by them when he was a student on his way to an American feminist history class. It was in this class that he learned about Jane Addams, but he says the class didn&rsquo;t touch on her private life.</p><p>&ldquo;We did touch on her background as a white, middle class, well-educated woman who just didn&rsquo;t want to be married and be a housewife,&rdquo; Adam says. &ldquo;But then there were just these ambiguities that were said in passing [about her sexuality], but not fully discussed.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>This glossing-over prompted him to ask us this carefully worded question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Could Jane Addams be considered a lesbian with the current use of that terminology?</em></p><p>If you&rsquo;re looking for a quick &ldquo;Yes, she was&rdquo; or &ldquo;No, she was not&rdquo; answer, you&rsquo;re out of luck. People most involved in Jane Addams&rsquo; history and legacy showed me and Adam that it&rsquo;s worth asking about the lesbian label, but it can be a problem. And, if you do apply it, it&rsquo;s best not to do it so quickly.</p><p><strong>The brunette in a yellow confection dress</strong></p><p>Let&rsquo;s start with an art history mystery. In 2006, a lifetime after Jane Addams passed away, <a href="http://arthistory.aa.uic.edu/faculty.php?profile=lisalee&amp;subj=5">Lisa Yun Lee</a> took up the position of Director of the<a href="http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/hull_house.html"> Jane Addams Hull-House Museum</a>. One day she came across a fetching painting of a brunette in the museum&#39;s back offices.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WEB%204.jpg" style="float: right; width: 300px; height: 400px;" title="Jane-Addams Hull-House Director Lisa Yun Lee discovered this painting in 2006, which sparked some discussion into Jane Addams' relationship with Mary rozet Smith. (WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)" /></p><p>Lee says the painting was initially described to her as being a great example of the work of <a href="http://schwartzcollection.com/artists/alice-kellogg-tyler">Alice Kellogg Tyler</a>, an accomplished painter who taught at the Art Institute of Chicago. She also taught at Jane Addams&rsquo; Hull-House settlement.</p><p>But, Lee says, &ldquo;As soon as I started asking &lsquo;Who is <em>that</em> person in the painting,&rsquo; there were hushed tones and confusion. And people said, &lsquo;Well, some people say that it&rsquo;s Jane Addams&rsquo; partner.&rsquo; Other people say it&rsquo;s her biggest business supporter. Other people said, &lsquo;Well, of course. It&rsquo;s her lesbian lover.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>The more Lee prodded, the more she realized the depth of debate surrounding the woman in the painting and her relationship with Addams. Lee says Hull-House started to dig through the historical record and &ldquo;ask different kinds of questions.&rdquo; At this point the staff realized this woman was indeed Jane Addams&rsquo; chosen partner in life.</p><p><strong>Mary and Jane</strong></p><p>This woman was Mary Rozet Smith. Lee says until people debated the painting, Smith had pretty much been written out of the historical record. But as more surfaced about her relationship with Jane Addams, Smith&rsquo;s fuzzy place in the Hull-House settlement&rsquo;s history became clearer.</p><p><a href="http://www.uic.edu/depts/lib/specialcoll/services/rjd/findingaids/MSmithf.html">Smith came from a wealthy Chicago family</a> that made a fortune through manufacturing. She was drawn to the work of the Hull-House settlement, taking on several roles: philanthropist, benefactor (some might say a sugar mamma), and Jane Addams&rsquo; lifelong companion.</p><p>Addams sums up an early encounter with Smith in this unfinished poem dating from 1895:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20poem.jpg" title="" /></p><p>Scholarship suggests Smith and Addams&rsquo; lives became deeply entwined. Over 40 years they wrote letters and love poems to one another. Addams requested that most of her letters be burned upon her death; she had felt they were too intimate. (Note: <a href="http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/jowh/summary/v009/9.4.freedman.html">Burning letters was not uncommon</a> at the time.)</p><p>The pair also vacationed together and traveled around the world, sometimes calling ahead to request a double bed, which was not unusual for women friends to do. Addams had Smith listed as an emergency contact on her passport. They also made major financial decisions, such as co-owning a home in Maine. At one point they considered adopting a child together.</p><p>As for that large painting of Smith in the yellow dress? Addams sometimes traveled with it &mdash; wrapping it up and schlepping it with her across country.</p><p>Historians say that when Rozet Smith passed away in 1934 (a year before Addams), Jane received condolences from far and wide, not unlike a widow in heterosexual relationship.</p><p>But what does this all mean? Does this kind of evidence equate to proof that the pair were lesbians?</p><p><strong>Women who love women</strong></p><p>What does the word <em>lesbian </em>mean? Well, if you use an expansive definition that does not by necessity have to include sex, then many people agree that, yes, Addams and Smith were lesbians. (After all, even married couples can have little or no sex, yet their heterosexuality is not called into question.)</p><p>Several sources tell me the most important thing to consider is what, exactly, having a relationship like this meant<em> in Jane Addams&rsquo; time.</em></p><p>One good person to ask is <a href="http://www.uic.edu/depts/wsweb/people/faculty/demilio/demilio.html">John D&rsquo;Emilio</a>, a professor of Gender and Women&rsquo;s Studies and History at the University of Illinois. And conveniently, his office is a few short blocks from the Hull-House museum.</p><p>He defines a lesbian as &ldquo;a woman who turns to other women for the love, and emotional support and intimacy that most human beings like to have in their personal lives.&rdquo;</p><p>With this definition in hand D&rsquo;Emilio feels comfortable assigning the lesbian label to Addams and Smith, even though he says it&rsquo;s impossible to know whether Smith and Addams had sexual contact. And even if we were to find out, he says, he wouldn&rsquo;t change where he lands on the use of &quot;lesbian.&rdquo;</p><p>But how does D&rsquo;Emilio take those letters that were burned and deemed &ldquo;too intimate&rdquo; by Jane Addams? Could those have contained &ldquo;smoking gun&rdquo; evidence for those bent on equating sexual contact with the term lesbian? &nbsp;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/web%202.jpg" style="float: right; height: 300px; width: 400px;" title="A photograph of Jane Addams and Mary Rozet Smith inside the Hull-House Museum. (WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)" /></p><p>&ldquo;They just wouldn&rsquo;t have been writing about that,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s just no way. This is not the world of Hugh Hefner and <em>Playboy</em>. So that&rsquo;s not what they were writing about. But what they were writing about was the open expression of how much the other person meant and how much I need you!&rdquo;</p><p>Even though D&rsquo;Emilio is confident in saying Jane Addams was a lesbian, he can understand why others might not feel comfortable using the term. And, he says, he prefers using the term &ldquo;woman-loving woman.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>A decoder ring for history</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.uic.edu/depts/wsweb/people/faculty/brier/brier.html">Jennifer Brier</a> is an Associate Professor of Gender and Women&rsquo;s Studies and History at UIC. Her take on the question?</p><p>&ldquo;I would say no,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;As a historian I would say no. As a lesbian who exists under the current definition &mdash; sometimes I&rsquo;d like to say yes. But in the end, I say no.&rdquo;</p><p>She says &ldquo;lesbian&rdquo; <em>was </em>a term used in Addams&rsquo; time, but Brier says Addams wouldn&rsquo;t have used it to describe herself and that &ldquo;it wasn&rsquo;t a phrase that had meaning for her.&rdquo;</p><p>Brier argues this point matters. She says it&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ahistorical">ahistorical </a>to assign the term to Addams retroactively, and that can be dangerous; shorthand terminology can bypass context and you can lose the richness and diversity of human behavior. We can also mistakenly believe that we understand what being a lesbian meant at the time. And Addams&rsquo; era indeed had very different relationship cultures. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;You need a decoder ring,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;And the decoder ring has to be adjusted to each historical period to actually function. It has to be tuned to the right frequency to understand what&rsquo;s happening at a particular moment in time.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Platonic love</strong></p><p>Since sex is so ingrained in our current culture&rsquo;s notions of what being a lesbian entails, it&rsquo;s worth noting that this was not the case in Jane Addams&#39; time; romantic relationships did not necessarily entail sex. On the question of whether Addams may have even been celibate, several experts tell me the general feeling is: &#39;Maybe, but it&#39;s impossible to know.&#39;&nbsp;</p><p>What historians do know is during the Victorian era <a href="http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/platonic%20love">platonic love</a> was in the air. It described a meeting of souls, not necessarily bodies, and was viewed as a pure kind of love that same-sex couples could enjoy. Men could share a Platonic love with men, and women with women. The intimacy in these relationships could be as deep as any hetersexual relationship, but they were not framed in terms of sex.</p><p>Lisa Junkin, the interim director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, says that Addams&rsquo; early writing expresses belief in platonic love and &ldquo;wanting to channel sexual impulses, believing that people should channel them essentially toward social justice &mdash; doing good in the world.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WEB%201.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Newspaper clippings about Jane Addams as a social reformer are on display at the Hull-House Museum. (WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)" />This idea of diverting sexual energy to more high-minded pursuits was present for men and women, and in the era&rsquo;s lexicon, too. John D&rsquo;Emilio says instead of using the phrase &ldquo;to come&rdquo; for male ejaculation, the phrase used at the time was &ldquo;to spend.&rdquo;</p><p>As D&rsquo;Emilio tells me about this facet of history, he breaks into a mock conversation that may have actually taken place in the Victorian era: &ldquo;Did you <em>spend</em> your seed? Well, I sure hope not because we&rsquo;re a people who believe in saving!&rdquo;</p><p>D&rsquo;Emilio says the ethic among the middle class at the time was to be prudent and industrious, and that too much sex was the opposite of that. Sex exhausts your resources.</p><p><strong>Boston marriages</strong></p><p>Addams and Smith referred to their relationship as a marriage in some writings, and this era enjoyed another kind of sanctioned love that came with a term: Boston marriages. D&rsquo;Emilio characterizes Boston marriages as deep relationships and commitments between two middle-class, college educated women.</p><p>Etymologically speaking, he says, the word &ldquo;Boston&rdquo; refers to the preponderance of women&rsquo;s colleges in Boston, while &quot;marriage&rdquo; is used because many of these women never married and lived a lifetime with another woman. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Think about it this way,&rdquo; D&rsquo;Emilio says. &ldquo;This is a generation in which sex is not out there in the public. Sex is supposed to be quiet and private and behind closed doors. And so Boston marriage becomes a very neutral and acceptable way of describing something, that if described in other terms might be scandalous.&rdquo;</p><p>It can be argued that Boston marriages could be considered a corollary of lesbian relationships today, but it&rsquo;s not clear whether sex was included in these setups.</p><p>D&rsquo;Emilio says &ldquo;Boston marriage&rdquo; was a term that acknowledged a relationship and intimacy &ldquo;without getting into the stuff we&rsquo;re not supposed to talk about.&rdquo; Ironically, D&rsquo;Emilio says in part because there were taboos against openly discussing sex, there was a kind of flexibility in what happened behind closed doors; it just wouldn&rsquo;t end up in polite conversation.</p><p>Professor Jennifer Brier adds it&rsquo;s important to remember Jane Addams was part of a subset of women who were of the class and means to be able to pioneer new ways to be a woman. There weren&rsquo;t many outlets for women at the time to be in non-traditional roles (especially leadership roles). The same goes for becoming trailblazers who open up new opportunities and jobs for women, immigrants, adolescents and new ways of existing in society &mdash; the basic work of Addams and Smith at Hull-House.</p><p>&ldquo;She [Addams] didn&rsquo;t rely on patriarchy in the way we think of today,&rdquo; Brier says. &ldquo;She didn&rsquo;t rely on men for her economic or emotional support. She made her life with women at the Hull-House.&rdquo;</p><p>And Addams was not the only woman at the Hull-House to buck gender norms. Other examples include Dr. Cornelia de Bey, who was a homeopathic doctor affiliated with the settlement and who lived with a woman and dressed in tailored, masculine garb. Hull-House co-founder <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=aAnLrCOHRQ8C&amp;pg=PA181&amp;lpg=PA181&amp;dq=love+on+halsted+street,+louise+knight&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=RWB0IeyMbw&amp;sig=JT3I6ZKzYfEY2sNnG9AKxHffSrI&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=6rknUpXxEIaayQHLiIDQDQ&amp;ved=0CC4Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&amp;q=love%20on%20halsted%20street%2C%20louise%20knight&amp;f=false">Ellen Gates Starr was also Addams&rsquo;s partner at one time</a>.</p><p><strong>An alternative label</strong></p><p>These questions around both labeling Jane Addams and the painting of Mary Rozet Smith never left former <a href="http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/hull_house.html">JAHHM </a>director Lisa Lee&rsquo;s mind. Instead, she felt the museum needed to represent the complex information around the painting and the era. And it wouldn&rsquo;t do to simply call Addams a lesbian.</p><p>So she and staff created an &ldquo;alternative labeling project&rdquo; to foster dialogue around the painting labels. The museum staff offered three labels (&ldquo;tombstones&rdquo; in museum lingo) to sum up the painting of Mary Rozet Smith and invited visitors to weigh in. They were:<object height="520" width="620"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157635410603458%2Fshow%2Fwith%2F9684980861%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157635410603458%2Fwith%2F9684980861%2F&amp;set_id=72157635410603458&amp;jump_to=9684980861" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157635410603458%2Fshow%2Fwith%2F9684980861%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157635410603458%2Fwith%2F9684980861%2F&amp;set_id=72157635410603458&amp;jump_to=9684980861" height="520" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620"></embed></object></p><p>Interim director for the <a href="http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/hull_house.html">JAHHM </a>Lisa Junkin was on staff for the alternative labeling project. She says they received many responses to the labels, ranging from hate mail to fan mail, and everything in between.</p><p>&ldquo;Occasionally there&rsquo;s also a sense of fear or anger that we&rsquo;d be telling that story, especially around young people,&rdquo; Junkin says. &ldquo;There have been teachers who have cut off the educators from telling the story of the relationship or who have covered over the label when students walk by &mdash; even though both the educators and the label don&rsquo;t use the term lesbian with younger groups.&rdquo;</p><p>Beyond the celebration and hatred for bringing Addams&rsquo; sexuality into history, the public provided useful suggestions, too. One person pointed out that none of the labels gave information about Mary Rozet Smith beyond her relationship to Jane Addams.</p><p>Which, from Junkin&rsquo;s vantage, was a problem.</p><p>&ldquo;For us as feminist historians, as a feminist site, that&rsquo;s really problematic, right?&rdquo; Junkin says. &ldquo;We essentially gave her the &lsquo;wife treatment,&rsquo; which should be avoided.&rdquo;</p><p>Here&rsquo;s the label the museum settled on:</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5537/9685555669_1f36ecd159_b.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/slide%204%20web.jpg" title="" /></a></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><em>Click the above image to see a larger view.</em></span></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The museum staff culled through the inboxes crammed with email and the drawers filled with Post-it notes. After that, they reconceived their permanent exhibit. In 2010 the museum curated a new presentation of their permanent collection, including the display of photographs made of Addams and Smith together.</div><p>But that once-mysterious painting of Mary Rozet Smith? It now hangs prominently in the former bedroom of Addams.</p><p>Junkin says &ldquo;the goal was to show instead of tell, and let the audience come up with their own understanding based on the evidence we can provide.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>A new look at old sex</strong></p><p>Junkin says after the alternative labeling project of Mary Rozet Smith, the <a href="http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/hull_house.html">JAHHM </a>has made conversation about sexuality more prominent. It&rsquo;s also created new programming, including a four-year film series around the sex positive movement and contemporary issues of sexuality. It also built new displays mention Hull-House&rsquo;s role in progressive sex education. (Junkin says one of Chicago&rsquo;s first birth control centers was at the Hull-House). She adds that staff have made their displays and tours more inclusive.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LENA FOR WEB.jpg" style="float: left; width: 338px; height: 450px;" title="The Hull-House Museum's Lena Reynolds will be a tour guide for the museum's new Gender and Sexuality Tour. She stands next to a painting of Cornelia de Bey, a physician, activist and educational reformer once affiliated with the Settlement. She was known to dress in tailored, masculine garb. (WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)" /></p><p>In the first week of September, the museum debuts a new tour that directly places the Hull-House in queer history. The working title: the &ldquo;Gender and Sexuality Tour.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>The tour&rsquo;s mastermind, Christian Alfaro, is a UIC student and <a href="http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/hull_house.html">JAHHM </a>educator. Appropriately enough, he learned about Jane Addams&rsquo;s non-conformity by taking a tour led by Lisa Junkin, who talked about the painting of Mary Rozet Smith.</p><p>&ldquo;Representation like this is important,&rdquo; Alfaro says. &ldquo;It actually helped with my own self-identity.&rdquo; The sentiment prompted him to learn more about Addams and ultimately start the tour Hull-House residents&rsquo; challenge to gender conformity.</p><p><strong>Closing the circle</strong></p><p>I phone Adam Peterson, the curious fellow who prompted this conceptual odyssey in the first place, to let him know whom I&rsquo;d talked to and how they came down on Addams and the use of the &ldquo;L word.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Well it sounds like this is opening a whole can of worms,&rdquo; he says. (I agree)</p><p>But he finds it all fascinating, he says, and in the end more interesting than a simple yes or no.</p><p>It&rsquo;s reminiscent of what I hear from Lena Reynolds, a <a href="http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/hull_house.html">JAHHM </a>educator.</p><p>Reynolds says when she gives tours she doesn&rsquo;t use the term lesbian per se, but she does say that modern-day members of the LGBT community embrace Addams as one of their own.</p><p>&ldquo;She&rsquo;s part of this bigger movement even if it was a time before the movement existed,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Whether or not we want to put the word on it &hellip; that she was fighting for equality and acceptance and human rights is undeniable. And that she valued love is also undeniable.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Correction: This article initially misstated details concerning Jane Addams&#39; Nobel Peace Prize. She was the first American woman to receive that honor.&nbsp;</em></p><div>To learn more about the work of Jane Addams and the Hull-House settlement and how it continues today, listen to WBEZ&#39;s segment from <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift">The Afternoon Shift</a> below.<a name="Afternoonshift"></a></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F109175414" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/jbrandel-0" rel="author">Jennifer Brandel</a> is Senior Producer of Curious City and Interactive at WBEZ. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/JnnBrndl"> Twitter</a> and <a href="https://plus.google.com/117289484797285268506" rel="me">Google+</a></em></p></p> Thu, 05 Sep 2013 17:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/should-we-use-l-word-jane-addams-108619