The Subway is a magical, magical place. The sweating masses, skittering rats, incessant saxophonists — all naturally a breeding ground for … romance? I’m not talking about I-love-yous and eternal vows, or even first dates out at that swanky bar you’ve been meaning to take someone to. The romance of the Subway is softer, quieter, and rarely makes its presence fully known but in the afterthought of a fleeting encounter, after the train has moved along and you’ve found yourself with a ten-minute walk home to reminisce on that intimate stranger with the hairy wrists.
“I also want to go to Boystown while I’m here,” was my next suggestion.
“The neighborhood has changed,” Adia, a Boystown resident, told me in a cautious, you-better-watch-out tone.
“I know,” I replied. “It’s in every local paper.” On Independence Day eve, a man was stabbed on Halsted right between Roscoe Street and Belmont. The incident involved a horde of African-Americans, dashing and shouting, and a bystander catching it on tape and posting it on YouTube. It seems social media is not a cure for Genovese syndrome.
“I grew up there, my mom still lives there, and as an African-American, it just makes me sad to see it all go down in my neighborhood,” Whitney said.
The video rekindled tensions, racial or otherwise, and launched another round of finger pointing in the gay community. On one side, the mostly white local residents and business owners who cited crime as the main concern and went insofar as to creating a Facebook page, Take Back Boystown. On the other side, the urban youth advocates who defend the Center on Halsted’s community services for queer kids of color.
Columns, Not Your Average Prom Queen, Place »
The area of Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood nicknamed Boystown has evolved over time into a gay Mecca. It is a part of the city where men holding hands on the street is commonplace, and most businesses proudly display HRC or rainbow stickers in the windows. It is the home to the annual Chicago Gay Pride Parade. Gay bars and clubs are a part of the draw, but the neighborhood is also home to a beautiful LGBT community center that offers meeting space, programming and events. Unfortunately, for the same reasons that make Boystown a great place to visit, this gay watering hole is host to much more serious LGBT related issues.
Columns, Ideas, Not Your Average Prom Queen, Place »
As the resident of a big city (Chicago) and the former resident of an extremely touristy city (DC) I think a lot about the qualities an Urban (with a capital U) person. I also think a lot about the types of conformity, crazy efforts to fit in, and downright stupidity that is often associated with this desire to be cool and to be a part of the city in which you live. Although pretty confident about my knowledge and street cred in both DC in Chicago, when I travel I often find myself feeling like its the first time I’ve ever seen a building taller than a barn.
This is a meditation on finding confidence in new environments.
Young gays these days seem to have a common narrative: grow up angst ridden in a small town in the closet, endure tortuous years in Jr. High and High School and then flee. Flee the oppression of small town america for a gay Mecca found in the urban centers of the world. Gay ghettos await the arrival of these newly hatched gay chickens after they graduate from high school or college looking for the new gay experience. Acceptance, beautiful gay men as far as the eye can see, and gay culture all await the newly hatched gay when they enter the US gay meccas of New York, LA, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago.
If there is one drive that I dread on tour it is driving through West Texas. It’s more than just long. It’s boring as well. I’m not sure what the population is between El Paso and Dallas, but I can’t imagine there are more than 50,000 people living in the cities that dot the 650-mile stretch combined. Of course I’m not dealing with concrete facts, what fun would that be? The point is that there is nothing. I don’t mean there is nothing like Wisconsin or Iowa where there is a lot of forest and farmland. I mean there is nothing at all. No houses, no restaurants, no farms, there is rarely more than desert brush. So I downed an energy drink in Las Cruces, NM (just over the border) and steeled myself for the long boring journey.
Almost ten years ago my buddy and I embarked on a mostly foolish but very exciting journey to bike New Zealand. There was a lot that I took away from that trip but more than anything I remember the views of the ocean from the Western shore of the South island. I was told over and over again that there was no other view like it in the world. Eventually locals would recant, “well, maybe in Big Sur.” Ever since then I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to drive the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and make a judgment for myself. This May I finally got the chance to do just that.
Events, New York City, Place »
In my experience, gay men feel like they have to ascribe to some sort of pre-determined lifestyle. This seems to be even more prevalent amongst folks that are older than me. It’s more than sex. It’s traverses all aspects of life. It applies to our musical and artistic tastes, physical appearance and ideas of beauty, even where we should live, work or eat. We talk a lot about being a supportive and uplifting community but we’re lying to ourselves if we don’t admit that there is a social hierarchy fueled by judgment and exclusivity. If there is one thing that defines what I hope to do with my music, it is my desire to create an experience that is creative, powerful and most importantly, inclusive. There are few times in my career where I felt that come together more than in Seattle and Portland.