The Center responds
In response to the Letter to the Editor in the Oct. 24 issue of Windy City Times regarding Center on Halsted, first let me assure the writer that 'an enormous, proud, colorful, identifying rainbow flag' is on its way. Displaying it alongside the American flag has always been part of the design plan. We have been waiting for the proper city permits to erect the flagpoles, and approval ( granted just this week ) has taken a bit more time than we expected.
Additionally, we are actively promoting—through various means such as ongoing town hall meetings, community surveys and staff accessibility—opportunities where thoughtful comments and feedback are welcomed and appreciated.
While acknowledging Mr. Goodman's many positive references to our building, I must, however, address some of the assertions in his letter. Our lobby proudly displays banners, billboard-size signage and stacks of printed materials all proclaiming that Center on Halsted is for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning people diverse in age, race, color, gender and gender expression, family composition and myriad other human qualities. Center on Halsted is also for allies of our community. We are delighted that straight mothers with babies in strollers eat lunch in our lobby ( not that we can confidently identify whether those mothers or their children are gay or straight ) next to openly affectionate gay and lesbian couples. Indeed, by design, the lobby of Center on Halsted is an intersection between the Center and its neighborhood, between diverse segments of the LGBT community and between LGBT and non-LGBT people. The lobby is a unique space in which straight people will view life through the LGBT prism, which can only lead to greater understanding, awareness and equality.
Although we appreciate and stand on the foundation built by the Stonewall rioters and many activists since, and although we do not judge anyone's desire for a 'gay-only' space, we did not create the Center to be exclusionary ( as most places once were for us ) . Our mission is to affirm the LGBT experience, not to be heterophobic. Moreover, while we applaud the author's openness and his commitment to the community, for others whom we serve, acceptance of their own sexual orientation remains a struggle. The community center was purposefully designed so that those wanting anonymity ( for example, some participants in our youth program, or a middle-aged married man here to see a therapist ) could enter the lobby more comfortably and discreetly through Whole Foods.
We are gratified that we are able to serve so many different LGBT groups and constituents at the Center, from trans art collectives to gay men's and lesbian volleyball leagues, from questioning teenagers to elders seeking social interaction. We welcome ALL people and are proud to do so.
Modesto Tico Valle
Executive Director, Center on Halsted
No to public sex
I like to think of myself as middle-of-the-road when it comes to politics. President Eisenhower warned us that taking that position will open you up to the extremes of both sides of an issue. Maybe, because of the fear of being arrested, I never allowed myself to be involved in unlawful activities. In San Francisco during the 1960s, I was invited to a gay-rights group called SIR ( Society for Individual Rights ) and many of their members advocated having open public sex, whereever and whenever. Needless to say, I did not join the group then, and feel now that public sex, whether gay or straight, is unlawful. Maybe instead of using plainclothes police in stings, they should consider placing uniformed officers near or in places that are used for public sex.
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length or consistency.