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 2022-03-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Cicero student finds his voice
by Bill Healy
2020-07-29

This article shared 2971 times since Wed Jul 29, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


When Jorge Martinez-Arevalo was in eighth grade, he was elected president of an LGBTQ+ after-school club at Unity Junior High School, in Cicero.

During his eighth-grade year, the club, which is known as NJAW ( short for "Never Judge, Always Welcomed" ), pushed the school district to be more inclusive of its gay and transgender students. Among other things, they screened a movie about gay teenagers who fall in love, held workshops about gender pronouns and petitioned the administration to respond to incidents of bullying with restorative justice.

Jorge gave his cell number to the group, and told his classmates they could text him with about any problems at school or at home. He said that people reached out to him at least once a day, mostly by text, saying things like, "Hi. I don't know what my sexuality is." He did his best to talk his classmates through whatever they were experiencing.

"There were moments when I would be talking to someone and what they experienced was so heavy that it took everything in my power for me not to burst out crying," Jorge said. "I would always tell them: I am your ally. I am here to help you."

"As heavy as it was, I took confidentiality seriously, and I was willing to be their punching bag."

At home, Jorge decorated his bedroom with rainbow flags and queer posters. He listened to songs about coming out and about self-acceptance. But Jorge never formally "came out" to his parents.

His mom, Elvira, and his dad, Nacor, both grew up in Mexico, and moved to the United States, where they met as adults. They've been married for 32 years and have five children together. Jorge, who is now 15 years old, is their fourth oldest child, and about to enter his sophomore year in high school. "Jorge's a good son," Elvira said. "Respectful. Very studious. A unique child."

Among friends, Jorge identifies as "queer," but he said the Spanish language doesn't have words that allow him to talk about his gender identity properly "It's very masculine or feminine. There is no gray, you know, it's her or him."

Jorge's family moved to Cicero a little more than a decade ago, where LGBT issues are a mixed bag. In 1998, a student who is transgender was crowned Prom Queen at Morton East High School. But more recently, the Cicero Police Department settled a lawsuit with a woman who is transgender and claimed to have been illegally stopped and harassed by police.

Earlier this summer, Jorge decided he wanted to formally "come out" to his parents.

"I would like to make it official," he said, "because, if not, then you're left in this weird sea of ambiguity."

"In the past, I would help others just to avoid helping me, but I feel like I can't do that anymore. You know? How can you love others if you can't love yourself first?"

In June, Jorge found his opening.

He was sitting with his parents, watching television one evening, when a commercial came on about LGBTQ Pride month. Jorge's dad jokingly turned to him and said, "Is there anything you want to say to me?"

"The best thing I can compare it to is like going into a roller coaster line," Jorge said, "You hear all the screaming of other people. And then you just need that final push to step on the platform, to go on the actual roller coaster."

Jorge told his parents: "I like boys and girls."

His mom said he seemed a little nervous when he told them. "Everyone can choose who they want to be with," she said. "I'm always going to be here for whatever he needs. The only thing that I'm a little confused about is whether it's something you're born with or something you grow up with."

"My mom straight up was like, 'Oh, I'm proud of you. You're my son,'" Jorge recalled. "But I sensed some disdain from my dad. And he kind of just took some minutes to himself and came back and said, 'Thank you for telling me.'"

"I felt discouraged, mad, angry," Jorge's father said, "but at the end, I gotta go along with it. What am I going to do? Kick him out of the house? I don't think so. ... I left my house when I was 15. It was real hard for me, being on the streets. I try to give him what I didn't have."

"I think that Jorge right now is still at a young age," his dad continued. "He's got to go through a lot of things still."

Jorge said "coming out" to his parents was about being his authentic self. "You're putting a lot on the line, even if you know you'll be fine, even if you have a safety net. It's still a scary experience."

"I think the neighbors already knew 'cause he wears some kind of a weird shirt," Jorge's dad said. "I wear a very colorful track suit," Jorge shot back.

"Tienes novio? ( Do you have a boyfriend? )" Nacor asked Jorge. "Not yet," Jorge responded, smiling. "Tienes novia? ( Do you have a girlfriend? )" Nacor asked. Jorge smiled again. "Also not yet."

Bill Healy is an independent journalist who produces StoryCorps for WBEZ and teaches documentary radio at Northwestern University.


This article shared 2971 times since Wed Jul 29, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

NATIONAL Idaho groups, Clay Aiken, Radio Milwaukee, Louisville school
2022-05-22
In northern Idaho, two groups with different agendas plan to hold events on the same day (June 11) at Coeur d'Alene City Park—and both organizations have issued statements, according to the Bonner County Daily Bee. The ...


Gay News

GLSEN holds Respect Awards in New York
2022-05-17
On May 16, the pro-LGBTQ+ education organization GLSEN held its New York Respect Awards in Gotham Hall. At its first in-person Respect Awards in three years, the organization introduced new Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers in their ...


Gay News

Judge blocks part of Alabama law criminalizing care for trans youth
2022-05-14
On May 13, U.S. District Judge Liles Burke blocked part of an Alabama law that made it a felony to prescribe gender-affirming puberty blockers and hormones to transgender minors, USA Today reported. ...


Gay News

Texas court okays child-abuse inquries into families of trans kids
2022-05-13
On May 13, the Texas Supreme Court unanimously cleared the way for the state child-welfare agency to resume investigating parents and doctors who provide gender-affirming care for trans youth—actions Gov. Greg Abbott has equated to child ...


Gay News

Judge: Dallas hospital must start gender-affirming treatment for trans youth
2022-05-12
In Texas, Dallas County Judge Melissa Bellan temporarily removed all barriers for transgender youth seeking medical treatments from Children's Medical Center Dallas—providing a major win for doctors fighting to restore ...


Gay News

Florida schools censoring students even before Don't Say Gay law goes into effect
2022-05-11
-- From a press release - TALLAHASSEE, FL — As the school year ends, students across Florida are experiencing the inevitable censorship of Florida's anti-LGBTQ Don't Say Gay law recently signed by Governor DeSantis. The law's harmful impacts are not limited to ...


Gay News

LGBTQs 4X more likely than non-LGBTQs to choose a college away from home
2022-05-11
-- 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 LGBTQ people were four times more likely than non-LGBTQ people ...


Gay News

Queer college salutatorian plans to help community through food
2022-05-10
Back in March, Jose Cueva got an unexpected phone call from the president of Kennedy-King College: Cueva's perfect 4.0 GPA meant he would be graduating as salutatorian. "I was in shock; I wasn't expecting that," Cueva ...


Gay News

DoJ files suit challenging Alabama's trans youth law
2022-05-02
The U.S. Justice Department (DoJ) filed a complaint alleging that Alabama's controversial law banning gender-affirming care for youth is unconstitutional, according to AL.com. In the complaint filed in federal court ...


Gay News

WOMEN'S SOCCER U.S. team dominates; Houston coach suspended
2022-04-28
The U.S. U-17 Women's Youth National Team finished first in Group G at the 2022 Concacaf Women's U-17 Championship with a convincing 5-0 win against Costa Rica to take another step closer to qualifying for the ...


Gay News

Chicago Archdiocese settles with sex-abuse accusers
2022-04-27
A settlement has been reached between the Archdiocese of Chicago and five people who accused five separate priests of sexual abuse—including a high-profile priest who passed away in 2019, ABC ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Missouri lawmaker, Michigan controversy, gymnasts, Julius' Bar
2022-04-24
A lawmaker in Missouri delivered an intense condemnation of one of his Republican colleagues over an effort to keep transgender athletes out of youth sports, HuffPost reported. State Rep. Ian Mackey (D), who is gay, issued ...


Gay News

Kane County high school 'promposal' criticized as racist
2022-04-19
A recent promposal involving students at Kane County's Central High School has been criticized as racist, ABC 7 Chicago reported. A photo of the promposal that's being shared on social media shows two teens holding a ...


Gay News

CircEsteem's youth-led 'Spring Circus' on May 7, 14 and 21
2022-04-15
CircEsteem's Spring Circus is back in-person for the first time since 2019. The CircEsteem Spring Circus will take place on May 7, 14 and 21 at CircEsteem, 4730 N. Sheridan Rd., at 2 and 6 p.m. ...


Gay News

HRC Foundation launches inaugural 'LGBTQ+ School Inclusion Efforts' report
2022-04-12
-- From a press release. Video below - WASHINGTON, DC—Today, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization released the 2021 Annual Report from ...


 



Copyright © 2022 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


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
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     
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.