Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-06-09
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

CULTURAL WASTELAND
by Mubarak Dahir
2001-05-23

This article shared 934 times since Wed May 23, 2001
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


When our landlords asked if my lover and I knew any "nice people" looking to rent an apartment because one of their properties had just become vacant, we were more than flattered. We considered it a bit of a gay civil-rights coup.

At least at first.

About a year and a half ago, my lover and I decided living in separate cities had become intolerable, and I moved to New York City so we could be together. Our search for affordable living quarters larger than the typical matchbox-size Manhattan apartment took us to the boroughs. After some legwork, we found a deal we couldn't turn down in Astoria, Queens.

Though separated from Manhattan merely by the thin sliver of water that is the East River, in some ways Queens is a totally different world. One of those ways is how open people are about homosexuality.

Our neighborhood has long been one of working-class Italian and Greek families. In more recent years, it has seen a flood of new immigrants, from Latinos to Arabs to Koreans to Croatians. Recently, National Geographic magazine pronounced parts of Queens as the nation's most diverse neighborhoods.

It's certainly not Chelsea or the Castro or Boys Town or Dupont Circle. And that's one reason we like it so much. Every day seems like a cultural adventure waiting to happen. The plethora of restaurants and shops offering new and exotic foods, clothing and knick-knacks seems endless. Even something as mundane as a trip to the corner produce stand is a lesson in international affairs. Every time I go, I come across some fruit or vegetable I've never seen or tasted before.

Still, the comfort level in being out is a little less certain than if we lived in Manhattan, or some other big-city gay ghetto. We recognized that when we moved here, but decided we were both too far "out" to modify our behavior. It's not like we make out on the street corner ( although we do occasionally hold hands ) , but we go about the neighborhood in ways that make it clear we are a couple. Mostly, that just means we show up together all the time.

In our neighborhood, we've frequently been able to tell when the light bulb goes off in someone's head and they realize we are a gay couple. No one ever says it that blatantly, of course, but you can just tell when someone figures it out. We wondered how people might react when it dawned on them. For the most part, we've been pleasantly surprised.

The Italian father who owns the local deli and who now calls us "the gentlemen" picked up on our relationship rather quickly, as we always went in shopping together on the weekend. He also figured out it was my lover who is the cook, and now, if I go in by myself on a weekday, he's likely to say, "Hey, tell your friend I've got a special on the shanks. He'd like them."

We've seen similar reactions by the Sicilian women who operate the bakery across the street, or the Lebanese brothers who run the corner shop that sells us our hummus, pita bread and falafel.

But how our landlords reacted was far more important than anyone else. A bad relationship with the landlord can make you uncomfortable living in even the nicest apartment. The couple who own the building are Italian-Americans with college-aged kids. Like most of the other second- and third-generation American immigrant families in the neighborhood, they speak Italian as well as English, and identify strongly with their native homeland.

Our landlords knew from the beginning, of course, that we were gay. Early on, the wife tried to let us know it was cool with her when she told us she was glad she rented all the apartments to "stable couples. I don't like to rent to people who are just roommates, you know, because one of them is always moving out on the other and then we got rent problems. That's why I like to rent to couples."

The gesture was appreciated and taken in the spirit we know it was intended. But my boyfriend and I still sometimes got the feeling that we're a conversation piece at her weekly bridge party, or something. We can almost hear her saying, "Well, you know that nice gay couple who live in the upstairs apartment ... I did tell you they were gay, didn't I? But you know, they're really nice boys and they keep the place good and clean ... ."

And of course, there have been awkward moments, like when their 20-something-year-old son, who doubles as the handy-man around the place, came into the apartment to work on the air conditioner, and got visibly nervous in our bedroom.

That's why we were particularly glad, at first, when the husband recently asked if we knew anyone looking to rent an apartment. One of their properties had just become vacant, and they were looking to fill it with "good people." My boyfriend and I took this to mean not only that they considered us specifically in that category, but that they considered gays and lesbians in it in general. Though it was all unspoken, we knew that in asking us to refer friends, they knew we might suggest another gay or lesbian couple, and that was OK by them.

As we stood by beaming momentarily at our "arrival" in the community, our landlord continued outlining the qualities he looks for in good residents: that they be mature, and have decent jobs, and be neat and tidy. "And of course you know the two most important things, don't you?" he asked, as we stood in ignorance.

"Skin color and nationality," he said matter-of-factly. "We want them to be white and Americans, not foreigners."

MubarakDah@aol.com


This article shared 934 times since Wed May 23, 2001
facebook twitter pin it 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

Gay News

ON THE MOVE How Chicago's 'gayborhoods' have shifted since 1965
2021-06-10
Chicago's gayborhoods (LGBTQ+ neighborhoods) and safe spaces have been important to the city's LGBTQ+ rights movement—and saving them post-COVID may be crucial. New research at Georgetown University highlights the importance ...


Gay News

Mayor Lightfoot, Dept of Housing announce $79.8 M rental assistance
2021-05-24
--From a press release - MAYOR LIGHTFOOT AND CHICAGO DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING ANNOUNCE $79.8 MILLION IN HOUSING RENTAL ASSISTANCE The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) will provide up to 15 months of rental assistance for renters and landlords impacted by COVID-19 ...


Gay News

LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance reports on discrimination and homeowners
2021-05-18
--From a press release - St. Paul, Minn. (May 18, 2021) — The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance has unveiled its first major report, "How Discrimination Affects the LGBTQ+ Community on the Journey to Homeownership and Beyond." The 46-page paper utilizes research, ...


Gay News

HHS: Prohibition on sex discrimination includes sexual orientation, gender identity
2021-05-10
--From a press release - Washington D.C. — Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that the Office for Civil Rights will interpret and enforce Section 1557 and Title IX's prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include: (1) ...


Gay News

One-third of LGBTQ college students had housing disruption during COVID-19 pandemic
2021-05-04
--From a press release - A new study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law conducted in collaboration with the Point Foundation, the nation's largest LGBTQ scholarship fund, finds that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the educational opportunities, financial ...


Gay News

Trump-era LGBTQ housing discrimination reversed, Quigley praises HUD action
2021-04-22
--From a press release - WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) , a Vice-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and ...


Gay News

HUD removes anti-trans Trump-era policy
2021-04-22
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is withdrawing a Trump-era policy that would have allowed taxpayer-funded homeless shelters to deny access to transgender people, a Minneapolis Star-Tribune ...


Gay News

Quigley, HUD Secretary talk importance of LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections
2021-04-22
--From a press release - WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), a Vice-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, questioned Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia L. Fudge during a hearing held ...


Gay News

Mayor Lightfoot announces Chicago Blueprint for Fair Housing
2021-04-09
--From a press release - MAYOR LIGHTFOOT ANNOUNCES BLUEPRINT FOR FAIR HOUSING New Assessment Outlines Actions the City will take over the next five years to advance fair housing to reduce residential segregation CHICAGO — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today announced ...


Gay News

WORLD Canadian groups, Moroccan refugee, LGBT+ Rights Ghana, trans heroine
2021-02-21
From $400,000 in funding for a national initiative aimed at expanding two-spirit advocacy, to $239,000 to improve LGBTQ youth housing access in the Prairies, 76 Canadian community groups are being sent nearly $15 million from the ...


Gay News

HUD to enforce the Fair Housing Act, leaders respond
2021-02-13
--Press release from U.S. Dept. Housing and Urban Development - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it will administer and enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The HUD directive begins ...


Gay News

Quigley statement on HUD announcement of enforcement of Fair Housing Act
2021-02-11
--From a press release - Chicago, IL — Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, released a statement after the ...


Gay News

HUD to enforce act prohibiting discrimination on sexual orientation, gender identity
2021-02-11
--From a press release - WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced that it will administer and enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. HUD's Office ...


Gay News

Florida to protect LGBTQ civil rights, embraces Bostock ruling
2021-02-03
--From a press release - St. Petersburg, FL - In a victory for LGBTQ Floridians, the agency that enforces state civil rights law has affirmed that discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity is ...


Gay News

Report: 51 years since Stonewall health, poverty, housing hurdles face LGBTQ 50+ NYers
2021-01-28
--From a press release - NEW YORK, N.Y. — LGBTQ New Yorkers age 50+ face steeper barriers to healthcare, higher rates of poverty, and greater challenges to their economic security than their non-LGBTQ counterparts, and the COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated ...


 



Copyright © 2021 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


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

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.