Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-10-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Openly gay man runs for board at Winthrop Harbor
Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Joseph Erbentraut, Windy City Times
2011-03-30

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


When former Chicagoan Steven Bigden-Russell moved to Illinois' northernmost town, Winthrop Harbor, to pursue a teaching job some 12 years ago, he probably never anticipated entering local politics. Today, that's exactly where he finds himself—one of 14 candidates running for four open positions on the Winthrop Harbor District 1 School Board.

In such a crowded field, it might seem difficult for any candidate to set oneself apart from other challengers. But as an openly gay man, married with three children in a somewhat conservative Lake County town with a population of slightly more than 6,500, standing out—or "being the square peg in the round hole," as he put it—is something Bigden-Russell has grown somewhat accustomed to by now.

While he and many of his friends and family members were initially concerned his sexual orientation could be a point of concern for the town's voters, he recently told Windy City Times the district's financial challenges have, by and large, overshadowed his somewhat unique family structure. He said he is optimistic regarding his chances for success in the town's April 5 election.

"I didn't initially believe the community would accept me and here, for the most part, it is," Bigden-Russell said. "I think, in a way, because this is such a crisis moment for so many families here, my being an openly gay man has gone into the background, but I'm not sure it would be that way if everything else was perfect."

He said the voters' largest concerns are avoiding any further increases in taxes as well as avoiding cuts—such as bus service—within the school district. He added his reputation within the community as a well-liked teacher, currently leading a third-grade classroom, has also helped him gain support. For the most part, everyone either "already knows or doesn't care."

Bigden-Russell's experience as an educator wasn't always such an asset, however. He said that when he first began teaching, he remained in the closet, fearful that his sexual orientation may be discovered and potentially lead to his firing. However, when he and husband Bob, whom he began dating nearly 20 years ago, initiated the process to become adoptive parents and underwent required training sessions, he was convinced that leading an open life would set a better example for their future child.

"One of the things they taught is how kids look to their parents for cues on how to act and feel," he said. "And they said you have to always make sure that when your kids are around you, you hold your head up tall and proud and that was it. From that day forward, I talked more about Bob and about my family and it just was what it was."

Also, while there are few families quite like theirs in Winthrop Harbor, the Bigden-Russells have turned to Internet groups like Rainbow Families to connect with other gay and lesbian parents. During Steven's summers off from school, they frequently go on camping trips to meet with other gay and lesbian-led families in places like Saugatuck, Mich., or Provincetown, Mass. It is on a Colorado-bound road trip, going on two years ago, where they decided to stop over in Iowa and apply for a marriage license.

Through living their lives more openly, Bigden-Russell said he has watched as colleagues, both at school and in the school board race, have seen their somewhat negative opinions of LGBT peoples' lives change for the better. Most notably, he referenced his alliance of sorts forged with another board candidate, Misty Bestler. They've brought their campaigns together under the slogan "A win for our kids in Winthrop Harbor" and pledged to bring the board's focus back to the students in the district.

Although Bestler's politics tend to be more conservative, he said their ideologies for the district's priorities moving forward are largely the same. In the end, that commonality is far more important, he said.

"We've become very close over the last eight weeks," Bigden-Russell said. "She's told me that she didn't understand gay people before we started working together and she said the other day that she wondered if I was sent here to help change peoples' views and lives."

"I think we've changed peoples' perceptions of the gay community just by being us and who we are, by living our lives and showing them that we're regular people just like everyone else," he added.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Cook County Commissioner Kevin B. Morrison to hold town hall in Hanover Township 2019-10-19
LGBTQ HRC/CNN town hall watch party held at Sidetrack 2019-10-16
Supreme Court analysis: Probabilities in the Title VII rulings 2019-10-16
ELECTIONS 2020, STATE HOUSE Ryan Podges, gay man challenges Feigenholtz for 12th Dist. 2019-10-16
NATIONAL Hillary and Chelsea disagree, coming-out study, Julian Castro 2019-10-15
WORLD Brazilian LGBT figures, 'Kill the Gays' bill, singer Hozier 2019-10-15
Kevin Hauswirth, an advocate committed to diversity 2019-10-15
HRC Chicago to honor Kim Hunt, Dane Hites 2019-10-14
State treasurer's LGBTQ reception Oct. 16 2019-10-12
CNN LGBT-specific Town Hall filled with unexpected drama 2019-10-11
Gay Fox anchor steps away from network 2019-10-11
Presidential candidates unveil LGBTQ+ platforms 2019-10-11
New report details network of organizations working against LGBT rights 2019-10-10
Victory Fund: Buttigieg's LGBTQ policy "comprehensive, inclusive, ambitious" 2019-10-10
Buttigieg announces plan to secure equality for LGBTQs 2019-10-10
Chicago Reader hosting presidential forum watch party 2019-10-09
Nearly 9 million LGBT adults registered to vote in 2020 general election 2019-10-09
Planned Parenthood Votes launches electoral program for reproductive freedom 2019-10-09
SUPREME COURT ARGUMENT There is optimism 2019-10-08
Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Historic LGBTQ Employment Cases 2019-10-08
Lambda Legal names Kevin Jennings CEO 2019-10-07
Mayor Lightfoot issues Bisexuality Day proclamation 2019-10-02
Quigley co-sponsors resolution denouncing Carson's transphobic history 2019-10-01
NATIONAL Hospital lawsuit, LGBTs in Root 100, censure postponed 2019-10-01
U.S. rep meets with 'Queer Eye' co-host 2019-10-01
HRC supports formal impeachment inquiry of Trump 2019-09-28
Women's March Chicago plans two marches in 2020 election year 2019-09-28
Supreme Court preview: 'The stakes could not be higher' 2019-09-27
Foundation calls on CPD board to enforce officer's suspension 2019-09-26
LGBTQ, civil rights, Immigration groups call for release of LGBTQ, PLWHIV prisonsors 2019-09-25
NATIONAL Donor arrested, trans worker fired, celebrities in pro-trans video 2019-09-24
Chasten Buttigieg, Mayor Lightfoot headline Victory Fund event 2019-09-22
Mayor, first lady launch youth commission 2019-09-22
2020 ELECTIONS Presidential candidates make pleas during Iowa LGBT debate 2019-09-21
Ben Carson makes transphobic remarks; LGBTQs react (UPDATE) 2019-09-20
Mayor Lightfoot announces final Budget Town Hall 2019-09-19
20th Anniversary of International Day of Bisexual Visibility gets mayoral proclamation 2019-09-19
Lightfoot introduces LGBT business resolution 2019-09-18
Trump's Proposed Attack on LGBTQ Federal Contract Workers draws 10,000+ comments 2019-09-18
Post debate analysis: Buttigieg has staying power 2019-09-18
 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.