Three weeks ago Rod 2.0 reported a fascinating digital history of black LGBTs on Chicago's South Side. On Friday, the cover of Chicago Tribune's Red Eye supplement updated this and ventured "beyond Boystown" to the city's predominately black South Side and discovered a "vibrant" black LGBT community. Jeffery Pub, seen above via Google Earth, is described as "possibly the oldest gay bar in Chicago" and serves as a meeting place for many black gay South Siders.
The Jeffrey Pub plans to trumpet its pride louder than ever on Sunday, when it will send a 30-foot float down Lakeview's streets for the 40th annual Pride Parade--the first time the bar has had a float in the parade. "We just want to let people know that the South Side is here and it's vibrant," said Roberaiste Warden, director of health and public relations for the Jeffrey Pub and a patron of the bar for 34 years.
The Jeffrey Pub isn't alone in hoping to boost the visibility of the South Side gay community. Though Chicago's gay scene has long been concentrated on the North Side, particularly the stretches of Lakeview with the rainbow pylons officially designating Boystown, the South Side has a stable gay population that seeks the resources to stay and thrive within its own culture and neighborhoods.
The Youth Pride Center (MySpace), a nonprofit that organizes activities for LGBT youth of color, recently opened a satellite location in the nearby Hyde Park neighborhood. YPC "saw its membership triple, to 291 kids", according to staffer Francisco Walker, who explains the black LGBT youth say their biggest issue is family acceptance and many have been kicked out of their homes. "Some also have faced harassment on the streets. Walker said that since February, eight kids from YPC have told him they were harassed near the Red Line stop at 95th Street and the Dan Ryan, apparently because of their sexual orientation."
In recent years there has been a revitalization of LGBT activities on the city's South Side, from the Black Pride events next weekend (more on that later this week) to black LGBT-specific cultural events. Otis Richardson, the Chicago-based activist and creator of the black LGBT-themed Lavenderpop Greeting Cards, tells Rod 2.0: "My friend photographer Richard Gray recently held a Stonewall 40th Anniversary event at the Carter G. Woodson Library on 95th and Halsted. There is definitely a push among grass roots oriented black LGBTs to be visible on the South Side. Our challenge is to create and support those resources. I have nothing against the Boystown community, but I want to spend money supporting groups and businesses run by people who look like me."
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