Thursday, August 30, 2012

A night at Homolatte

Walking east on Argyle Street away from the Red Line stop on the El, you’ll pass a stretch of Vietnamese businesses and restaurants. Taking a left on Sheridan reveals an unremarkable half-a-block until the neon lettering of Big Chicks appears on your left. Inside the Lakewood bar, you’re met with low light, an indy soundtrack, and cheap beer. Every available space on the walls is covered in a framed photo, drawing or painting. The emphasis is on portraiture: strong women, many bearing their bodies unapologetically, gaze at you. The space is attached to an adjacent restaurant called Tweet, where on the first and third Tuesday of each month, a microphone is placed at one end of the room. Shortly after 7:30, queer Chicago musician Scott Free stands up, passes a guitar strap over his wide shoulders, and announces the start of the latest edition of the music and poetry gathering he’s run for, by his estimation, 12 years: Homolatte.

New play, "Pink Milk," examines the life of Alan Turing

Last year, Alex Young, then a junior at Northwestern University studying creative writing, began working on a poetry project in response to incidents of bullying and suicide plaguing gay teenagers and gaining increasing national attention.

Young said he started to research prominent gay figures from the 1950s, especially those who had faced some form of abuse or personal tragedy. In the process, he discovered Alan Turing, the British mathematician and scientist widely considered one of the founders of computer science, as well as a visionary in the field of artificial intelligence. Setting aside his poems, Young started working on his first full-length play, one inspired by Turing’s life. The result, “Pink Milk,” just finished a five-show run at this year’s New York International Fringe Festival, and will be coming to the Chicago Fringe Festival in September.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Profile of comedian and actor Jason Stuart

Comedian and actor Jason Stuart reflects on his career, the personal and professional benefits of coming out of the closet, and the artistic options available to LGBTQ performers.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Same-sex marriage ceremony at Halsted Market Days

The above audio slideshow portrays a mock same-sex marriage ceremony that took place at the Halsted Market Days in Chicago on August 11, 2012. It was organized by the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, and was presided over by State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-12).

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Protests and counter-protests outside Chicago's only Chick-fil-A

On August 9, 2012, protests took place outside Chicago's only Chick-fil-A restaurant. Interviews with Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation network, Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, and others.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The legal issues behind the Chick-fil-A controversy

The controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s July 16 comments in opposition to gay marriage is no longer a culture war-influenced discussion of free speech.

In little more than a week, it evolved into a formal complaint filed Thursday with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. The group behind that complaint, Chicago-based The Civil Rights Agenda, is alleging violations under the Illinois Human Rights Act. And that group is standing by Chicago alderman Joe Moreno, whose opposition to a planned Chick-fil-A in his ward has earned him national attention.

At stake is the strength of the reasoning underpinning both the complaint and Mr. Moreno’s resolve, which after uncommon scrutiny appears undaunted. Speaking Wednesday to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Moreno said, “I’m not going to back down from this.”

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chicagoans react to "Chick-fil-A Day"

By Sarah Fentem and John Santore

There’s no doubt the recent Chick-fil-A controversy has affected business at the chain’s only Chicago franchise.

Supporters showed up in droves Wednesday to Chicago's only local store and Wabash. Mike Huckabee, the conservative former Republican governor from Arkansas, had declared August 1st “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day”. The news spread through social networks and word-of-mouth, and by noon, a long line stretched out the store's door and down Wabash Avenue.

On July 16, Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy ignited a firestorm after he told the Baptist Press that he backed "the biblical definition of the family unit."

Last week, the issue blazed into Chicago after Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that "Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago's values." Shortly after, 1st Ward Alderman Joe Moreno announced he wouldn't allow the planned construction of a new franchise location to go forward.

An informal poll of about 50 customers outside the restaurant found more than 30 who were explicitly there to support the chain in the wake of the controversy.
Some customers said they came to show solidarity for Cathy’s views. “The man was asked a question,” said Priscilla Stabler. “He told the truth, and the truth prevails.”

Others said they turned out to support what they labeled as an exercise of free speech. "They love to say that Chicago is a city of diversity,” said suburban resident Patrick Friedline. “Well, that's a diversity of ideas, too."

Owner Lauren Silich,declined to grant interviews, saying she “had a restaurant to run.” However, Kate Sosin, a senior reporter for the local LGBT publication Windy City Times, said Silich told her earlier this week that business had increased in recent days.

But the attention hasn’t been all positive. The gay community has been sponsoring anti-Chik-fil-A events around the city. For example, the Boystown restaurant Hearty Boys is hosting “Chick-fil-Gay Appreciation Day” Wednesday. Hamburger Mary’s, in Uptown, now features a “hate-free” Southern-style chicken sandwich.

Sosin said the Chicago LGBT community is no stranger to Chick-fil-A’s stance against gay marriage. Before the first Chicago location opened last spring, the gay-rights organization GetEqual hosted a protest where they handed out fake “Bigot-fil-A” coupons.

“I think a lot of people who regularly read LGBT news maybe know about the Chick-fil-A donations in the past,” Sosin said, referring to financial contributions the organization has made to organizations like the Family Research Council. “But I think the media attention has grabbed people, even people who don’t normally follow [LGBT news]”.

“I think a lot of people won’t go there now," Sosin added.

But on Wednesday, suburban resident Susan Moody was proud to be a patron, even after receiving what she described as heavy criticism from her friends.

“I ended up just saying, look, 'I love all you guys',” Moody said, “and we have strong opinions. I'm going tomorrow and having a chicken sandwich, and I’m going to stand up for our free speech for all, big and small."