Tag Archives: boystown

Chicago Pride extended to 2 weekends

Chicago’s Pride celebration may be extended to two weekends, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune. Traditionally the celebration has been crowded into one weekend close to the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York.

The Tribune reported that the Pride parade and the Pride festival, which are organized by different groups, will take place on different weekends.

The report said the plan was an effort to help with crowd control, which has exceeded 800,000 for the parade.

Under the plan, the festival is Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23.

The parade is June 30, a Sunday.

Boystown bar investigated for barring women after 11

The Illinois Department of Human Rights is investigating a complaint lodged against a gay bar in Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood. The complaint alleges that Wang’s is not welcoming to women.

Wang’s, 3317 N. Broadway, has a posted drink menu with a notice that reads, “Men Only After 11 p.m.”

The sign has existed for at least two years, but it gained some notoriety after the Huffington Post recently reported about complaining female customers.

The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in public accommodations, including bars, according to Mike Claffey of the IDHR.

Claffey, in a statement first reported by Huffington Post, said, “Anyone who believes they were denied or refused the full and equal enjoyment of the services of any bar or restaurant because of their sex or other protected category under the act should contact the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

Chicago Ald. Tom Tunney, who represents the Boystown neighborhood and is openly gay, told Huffington Post, “Businesses within our neighborhood should be accommodating and respectful towards all patrons.”

A representative of Wang’s said despite the words on the menu board no one is refused service at Wang’s after 11 p.m.

But women have reported on Yelp and other social networking sites that the policy is enforced.

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Stabbings, assaults roil Chicago’s Boystown

Chicago police have made an arrest in connection with a high-profile stabbing in the city’s Boystown neighborhood over the July 4 weekend.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said analysis of a video shot by a witness resulted in an anonymous tip from someone who saw the video on YouTube. That led them to 24-year-old Darren Hayes, of Hammond, Ind., who was arrested for aggravated battery and ordered held in lieu of $700,000 bond.

Published reports indicate an anti-gay slur led to the confrontation.

Police said they’re still looking for several other people who can be seen on the video punching and kicking 26-year-old Rubin Robinson on the 3400 block of North Halsted Street on July 3. Robinson was treated at an area hospital and released a few days later.

Ongoing assaults in Boystown have led to the creation of the Facebook group “Take Back Boystown” and of a citizen patrol group called Boystown Dog Walkers Community Awareness Program.

A July 2 gathering in the 7-Eleven parking lot at Halsted Street and Roscoe, where there was a stabbing on June 18, tried to bring police and residents together to address the problem. But the event was interrupted with confrontations by protesters charging Halsted Street business owners and residents with racism.

For up-to-date coverage of the situation, go to gaychicagonews.com.

– Louis Weisberg

Police make arrest in most recent Chicago Boystown stabbing

Chicago police have made an arrest in connection with a high-profile stabbing in the city’s Boystown neighborhood over the July 4 weekend.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said analysis of a video shot by a witness resulted in an anonymous tip from someone who saw the video on YouTube. That led them to 24-year-old Darren Hayes, of Hammond, Ind., who was arrested on charges of aggravated battery and ordered held in lieu of $700,000 bond.

Published reports indicate an anti-gay slur led the confrontation.

Police said they’re still looking for several other people who can be seen on the video punching and kicking 26-year-old Rubin Robinson on the 3400 block of North Halsted Street on July 3. Robinson was treated at an area hospital and released a few days later.

Ongoing assaults in Boystown have led to the creation of the Facebook group “Take Back Boystown” and the creation of a citizen patrol group called Boystown Dog Walkers Community Awareness Program.

A July 2 gathering in the 7-Eleven parking lot at Halsted Street and Roscoe, where there was a stabbing on June 18, tried to bring police and residents together to address the problem. But the event was interrupted with confrontations by protesters charging Halsted Street business owners and residents with racism.

Chicago takes first steps to building LGBT senior housing

Standing in front of the old Town Hall police station in Chicago’s Boystown, openly gay Ald. Tom Tunney and other Chicago officials announced plans May 13 to convert the historic property into a 90-unit public housing project aimed at LGBT seniors.

“This is an exciting day for the community and the city,” Tunney said. “This one-of-a-kind housing development will have up to 90 units and will be the first of its kind in the Midwest.”

The Chicago Department of Housing designated Heartland Housing as the developer for the project, selling the property to the nonprofit for $1.

Michael Goldberg, executive director at Heartland, said a 2005 study the group did estimated that there are more than 40,000 LGBT seniors in the Chicago area, a number that’s going up every year. Those LGBT seniors face the same issues and needs for affordable housing that other seniors face, Goldberg said, compounded by discrimination issues.

“Chicago needs affordable housing for LGBT seniors,” Goldberg said. “Heartland Housing is proud to have been selected as developer of this critical project.”

A 2009 report by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force noted that LGBT seniors across the United States often face discrimination in mainstream senior housing. Many, the report said, feel compelled to hide their sexual orientation in those settings.

“Creating LGBT-targeted and LGBT-friendly elder housing is a scarcely developed yet important option for enabling our elders to age in their own communities, avoid isolation and receive culturally competent care,” the report stated.

But, the NGLTF researchers found, few such options exist. There are some senior housing developments targeting LGBTs around the country but almost all are market-rate or upper-income. Steps to open affordable, public-supported LGBT senior housing similar to the project announced in Chicago have been taken in Boston and Philadelphia. To date, the 104-unit Triangle Square-Hollywood in West Hollywood, which opened in 2007, is the only such development in the nation.

“LGBT-affirming or LGBT-centric housing options do not exist for the vast majority of the nation’s LGBT elders who seek them,” the NGLTF report stated. “While the majority of initiatives in LGBT housing have been in the for-profit arena, the economic vulnerabilities experienced by LGBT elders over the lifespan documented here indicate that culturally competent, LGBT-affirming public and affordable housing options are most sorely needed.”

Heartland is partnering with the Center on Halsted, Chicago’s LGBT community center next door to the new development, to develop the project. The Center currently serves 800 to 1,000 LGBT seniors per year, an official there said.

The historic Town Hall police station, closed last November after more than a century, will be preserved and incorporated into the overall design. A new building to go up between the station and the Center will be designed by Gensler, the same architectural firm that created the award-winning design of the Center.

“When the Center was born, we took the model of Daniel Burnham: Make no small plans,” said Modesto Valle, executive director of the Center. “Today we take the opportunity to create something that will not only impact Chicago, but the whole country.”

Chicago officials said they were pleased with the outcome after four years of research, planning and negotiation.

“We’ve done a lot of work with Heartland Housing over the years, and we’re sure this will be another successful development,” said Chicago Department of Housing Deputy Commissioner Bill Eager.

While the announcement of the agreement with Heartland was a big step, the project is still a long way from completion, and officials would not give an estimate on when it would become a reality. None of the financing for the development is in place yet, officials said.

“These projects require multiple financing sources and we’re looking forward to getting going on it,” Eager said.

And while the development will be geared to the needs of LGBT seniors, as public housing it won’t exclude others who meet the age, income and other requirements.

“There won’t be discrimination,” Goldberg said. “This will be an open community.”

Police station in Chicago’s Boystown to become part of senior housing project

A former police station in Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood is set to become part of a housing development serving gay seniors, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

For $1, the city is selling the old Town Hall District station, 3600 N. Halsted, to Heartland Housing Inc., which plans to incorporate it into a new construction project of about 90 lower-income apartments for seniors.

The Sun-Times said the project is a parting gift to the gay community from Mayor Richard Daley. The site lies within the heavily LGBT 44th Ward, which is represented on city council by the city’s first openly gay alderman, Tom Tunney.

Michael Goldberg, executive director of Heartland Housing, told the Sun-Times that the design is incomplete but “will preserve much of the exterior of the old Town Hall station and some interior features.” Constructed in 1907, the building is under consideration for landmark status, which probably would be granted under the deal.

The project also will include ground-level commercial space. The strategy of preserving a historic building façade and including commercial space was used successfully in building the Center on Halsted, Chicago’s LGBT community center. Located next door to the senior housing project, the Center on Halsted will provide social services to its senior residents.

Four months ago, at a Center on Halsted event for then-mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel, Tunney talked about the irony of turning a police station that once epitomized the tensions between police and the gay community into a housing project that will benefit gay seniors, said the Sun-Times.

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Milwaukee’s gay nightlife on the move

Like San Francisco’s The Castro, New York City’s Chelsea and Chicago’s Boystown, Walker’s Point serves as a sort of nucleus to Milwaukee’s LGBT nightlife. For years, gay and lesbian bars and clubs have flourished in the area, also known as the Fifth Ward.

But a growing number of LGBT Milwaukeeans, particularly younger gays and lesbians, don’t like having their social life confined to the South Side neighborhood. They feel it’s isolating.

In 2007, the Milwaukee Guerrilla Gay Bar was formed as an “alternative scene for folks who crave something different than what the gay Walker’s Point circuit offers,” says the group’s website.

The first Friday of every month, MGGB organizes a “takeover” of one of Milwaukee’s straight bars by rallying hundreds of members and allies via Facebook and Twitter announcements. The location of the “takeover” is announced the day of the event, and “guerrillas” show up unexpectedly at the designated bar that night.

Three years after the first guerrilla attack, 2010 could be considered the year of the LGBT takeover of East Side and downtown nightlife. Two gay bars have opened in those neighborhoods, and several otherwise straight venues have begun promoting gay nights.

Before Walker’s Point became the focal point of the city’s gay nightlife, the East Side served that role, says Joe Brehm, owner of This Is It! at 418 E. Wells St. Milwaukee’s oldest gay bar, This Is It! has operated continuously for more than 40 years.

“I think the East Side was always more accepting of diversity than other (Milwaukee) neighborhoods,” Brehm says.

Hybrid Lounge helped revive the East Side’s gay tradition in March, opening at 707 E. Brady St. and becoming the only gay bar on the popular Brady Street corridor.

In June, Tempt opened downtown at 324 E. Mason St. Tempt promotes itself as filling the void of LGBT bars and nightclubs downtown, using the slogan “Let us ‘Tempt’ you with what Milwaukee has been missing!”

Also opening this year on the East Side – and just steps away from Hybrid Lounge – was “Beyond Pleasuredome” at Trocadero’s Redlight nightclub, 1758 N. Water St. “Beyond Pleasuredome” picks up where the upstairs nightclub’s original gay night, called “Babylon,” ended in 2008 with the close of Redlight to the public. Trocadero general manager Chad Ellingboe says the nightclub revived Thursday gay nights in response to patron demand.

“Beyond Pleasuredome” advertises itself as a dance party for anyone, “gay, straight or undecided.”

“We just want to offer good drinks and good music to anyone,” while “trying to be as gay-friendly as possible,” Ellingboe says.

According to him, East Side patrons appreciate the opportunity to drink and mingle closer to their homes, and the gay night also draws University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee students.

Notte Nite Lounge, 1033 N. Old World Third St., also started a Thursday gay dance night called “Crave” in October. That same month, Coa, located at Bayshore Towne Center in Glendale, initiated a Tuesday gay night.

“We’re the first of our kind in this area,” says Enrique Torres, Coa’s general manager. “We want to make the gay community

comfortable in a different location.”

Brehm says he’s happy with the expansion of LGBT nightlife beyond Walker’s Point and does not regard the new activity as a threat to his business.

“Milwaukee for its size has more gay bars than other cities of its size,” he says, adding that no matter what the neighborhood, “Milwaukee is very welcoming.”