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Ideas, Place »

c. Julie Michelle (http://iliveheresf.com/?p=1988)

“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.

Politics »

As Brazil's Economy Surges, Thousands Left Behind on Streets of Rio

Poor, unstably housed New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS are having a significantly harder time finding apartments as a result of two policies adopted by the city’s Human Resources Administration.

That is the key conclusion drawn from a survey of case managers released this week by Shubert Botein Policy Associates, an analysis and advocacy group based in New York City.

In March, the Human Resources Administration changed two long-standing policies regarding the payment of fees on behalf of low-income people who receive rental assistance through HRA. First, HRA halved the amount it will pay to a broker who is working on behalf of an HRA client. Second, HRA will no longer provide cash security deposits to landlords who work with clients. Instead, landlords are given vouchers, which they can use to request compensation for damages caused by a tenant.

Politics »

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To be sure, acting out is unhealthy and oftentimes illegal. However, it is understandable in this context. It is the responsibility of those with resources, not only money but common sense and decency, to make all areas welcoming to our gay kids. It is also our responsibility to let all community members know that illegal acts, particularly violence, can result in jail, prison, and sometimes even disability or death. People who violate these shared social norms against violence have to face the penalty, whether the violence occurs on the south side or the north side and this must be made clear in a healthy way. A healthy way in this instance would be an avenue that lets these kids know that if they think it is bad here, it is even worse in jail and that the inequality they experience now will be much worse with a criminal record. These are the facts. We need to take an honest inventory of our city and our gay community and confront the social problems we see head on with common sense and inclusivity. We are all a part of that sometimes silly rainbow, made up of a diversity of colors, cultures and voices. Let’s take care of our own wherever they live in order to make our entire community a safer, healthier environment and make racism and homophobia relics of the past.

Columns, Not Your Average Prom Queen, Place »

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

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.

Ideas »

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My real concern is about how our community defines violence and who we label as criminals. Boystown residents are scared for their lives, but many of them have instant access to safety. For instance, has anyone spoke about the fact that this highly-circulated video of the public Boystown stabbing was shot on a small camera, by the owners standing on their private balcony. They weren’t in any harm’s way. But if you read most news reports, it would seem that the residents of Boystown were under direct attack. While robberies and muggings occur, a majority of the fighting is not only black on black, but gay on gay crime. I reluctantly share that a lot of illegal activity happens all the time in Boystown (and in most gay spaces in general.) Who is able to get away with it is a different story, and there’s a big difference on the types of bodies policed.

Columns, Sexuality, Zack's Ramblings »

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Four years spent in queer media have taught me a fair amount about privilege, about the ways that my gay life is easier for reasons as basic as the color of my skin and the fact that my gender matches my biology. But the more I try to reconcile these privileges with my desire to create an equal queer world, the more I am left with one question: Can a nontrans, white gay man ever truly leave the comforts of his own identity without having to make frequent and loud apologies for the crimes of his ilk?