#ORD – One Of The Boys

Guest post by Kristi.

Let’s just get this out of the way: my college experience consisted of three different colleges in three different regions of America with several gaps in between. I was basically the poster child for the idea that not everyone should go to college immediately after high school.

One of those three stints happened to be located in Chicago, Illinois; a hot, humid mess of cultures/culture shock that gave me some of the best and worst experiences of my life. Having grown up near a mid-sized city in the San Joaquin Valley of California–think “almond orchards and farmers everywhere, dotted with the occasional Confederate Flag waving off an old flatbed”–I knew nothing about living in an actual city, much less one as complex as Chicago. In some parts of the city, entire streets “belonged” to a culture: Division Street was Polish; Devon Avenue phased between Russian Jewish and Indian in an utterly fascinating way. Despite the prevalence of cultural diversity in the Chicago landscape, however, racial segregation is recognized as being alive and well.

Those of you who read “almond orchards and farmers everywhere” and thought “conservative” are right, which is why living in Chicago was also very much my first immersion in queer culture. Of course, when I was in high school I had a few gay friends (almost exclusively cisgender men), but none was out like the boys of Chicago’s East Lakeview neighborhood–affectionately nicknamed “Boystown.” Continue reading “#ORD – One Of The Boys”