Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-08-31



Lesbian wins prom king at Lane Tech
Below: Lane Tech teacher out and proud
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times

This article shared 46877 times since Sun Jun 23, 2013
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Ola Wolan planned for her senior prom at Lane Tech High School all school year—because she wanted to wear a tuxedo, not a dress. She researched how much the tux rental fee would be ($100) and planned accordingly.

And as the school's prom—held Saturday night, June 8, at the Hyatt-Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago—rapidly approached, the out lesbian opted to run for Prom King, not Prom Queen.

"Honestly, I don't fit the gender stereotypes of a girl and I'm not trans[gender]; I know who I am and wouldn't feel comfortable winning 'Queen' and then having to dance with a boy," Wolan said. "So I just thought, why not break gender expectations and stereotypes and run for 'King.'"

In fact, her initial plan was to run for King, while a gay male student was going to run for queen—and that plan was OK'd by the school, but he was not the ballot at first.

So it was just Wolan, 17, seeking the King title, to be voted by students attending prom.

She ran against five straight boys.

"I wasn't really worried about their reactions because most of them were OK and supportive, and each actually told me I likely would win," said Wolan, a popular student who crosses into many student cliques. "I try to be really nice to everyone and really don't have a set group of friends; I just try to be pleasant to everyone."

Wolan attended the prom in her rented tuxedo with Amber Lynn Phillips, a junior at the school this year, who she has been dating since late March. Phillips wore a dress.

The two were part of a prom group of about 30, and they were the lone gay couple.

"I couldn't eat [dinner at prom] because I was so nervous," Wolan said. "I thought it would be a wonderful night, even if I didn't win [the title of King because] of my journey to self-acceptance and self-love."

She also didn't eat desert, though now admits it looked incredible. She still was too nervous for the announcement to indulge. After desert, it was time for senior notables, honors for such awards as Best Hair, Best Eyes, Best Smile, etc.

Next came the prom prince and princess, and the prince was selected from the list of king candidates.

"After they announced the prince, it probably was one of the most surreal moments of my life when everyone started chanting my name. Never in a million years would I have expected that, hearing so much love toward me for who I am and being open [about my sexuality]. It was incredible, a moment that will stick out in my head forever; I was tearing up," Wolan said.

Finally, the announcement came: The 2013 Lane Tech prom king is Ola Wolan.

Everyone started cheering.

"I was so relieved; that's the best way to describe it. I couldn't stop smiling; I was so thrilled," she said.

The prom queen (a straight girl) was then announced.

Wolan and Phillips danced, as did the queen and her date.

"I think that night shows how far things have changed, how the movement has progressed and how incredibly accepting my generation is going to be," Wolan said. "I think this school is the very epitome of diversity, acceptance and love; I think that's remarkable."

She is king

Wolan grew up in a conservative, Catholic, Polish home, where being gay was never a topic at the family's Belmont Heights home. But as a high school freshman, she now admits she "started getting the idea" that she might be gay. She learned that year that a senior girl liked her, and another friend suggested Wolan pursue the senior. But Wolan said no, saying she was not gay, that she was not attracted to girls.

Ultimately, they started talking and then it developed into something more, Wolan said.

"As a freshman, I went through a dark phase and wasn't very happy with myself for who I was; I never thought people would accept me, or like me," she said. "In fact, when I first learned about gay people, same-sex relationships, I was kind of traumatized; I thought, 'why is this happening to me?' I went through a 'Why me?' phase."

However, Wolan now says she knew she was gay in the sixth grade because, well, "I didn't like boys," she said. "When you're in grade school, you're sort of pressured into tagging along with the girls and talking about how cute this boy is, or how much you really want to like that boy, etc. You're sort of pressured into those things, those scenarios, especially if you don't know that you're allowed to be another way, that there's more that you can be. I don't feel like I found myself until high school because I wasn't exposed to it in grade school."

As a freshman, she started taking an interest in girls and didn't hide her feelings. But, she started telling people she was bisexual. "That kind of was my cover because I guess I kind of wanted a possibility that I could have a 'normal life,'" Wolan said.

But when she returned to Lane Tech as a sophomore, she came out as gay. She was open about her sexual orientation and outspoken about it, and she refuted the past claims that she was bisexual. "That was a turning point," Wolan said. "I decided it was just time to be honest with others, honest with myself."

And she's found acceptance at school ever since.

Well, other than from one senior girl, "Diana," who opposed a female running for king, based on her religious beliefs. Diana went through Facebook to state that she thought it was completely immoral and that she lost respect for Lane Tech for allowing it.

"I'm not oblivious to the fact that people are not always accepting [of same-sex relationships]. But it still hurt because that was the first time I felt personally attacked by someone," Wolan said.

The two students didn't know each other before Diana's social media posting—and she quickly received backlash for her opposition to Wolan's run for king.

Diana then reached out to Wolan privately on Facebook to say that she did not mean to personally attack Wolan, just that those are her beliefs.

At prom, Diana actually approached Wolan to congratulate her. "She was very polite and nice about it," Wolan said of Diana, and she even danced with Wolan and Phillips.

At the end of the night, Wolan went up to Diana and hugged her.

Wolan and Diana continued to interact on Facebook after prom, and they soon learned they have similar interests, including soccer. Diana even asked if Wolan wanted to have lunch to continue the dialogue.

They did have that lunch.

"It was a learning experience for both of us," Wolan said.

Will they stay in touch? Maybe, Wolan said.

Wolan confirmed that the two are planning to go to a Chicago Red Stars soccer game together sometime this summer.

"We now have mutual respect between us; everything sort of worked out," Wolan said.

Wolan is heading to Normal in the fall, to attend Illinois State University. She's considering a career in law enforcement, perhaps as a detective—or maybe as a gay-rights activist. "I am very interested in gay rights and civil rights," she said.

She will be a working this summer as a life guard, and of course spending more time with Phillips.

The two met on the school's lacrosse team, though they didn't truly bond until one day in the halls at Lane Tech.

Wolan went to the school library one afternoon on a half-day of school, but was told the library was closed. So she just sat in the hallway.

Phillips then tried to enter the library and the door was locked, so she asked Wolan if she could sit with her.

Wolan admits now she was nervous, worried that there might be that awkward silence between the two. Instead, they talked for two hours, "and the conversation flowed easily," Wolan said.

Phillips, who had a boyfriend at the time, asked Wolan a lot of questions about being gay because she said she didn't know anyone who was gay. They also talked about their families, and more.

They later learned that the library had been open the whole time.

"If we both went into the library, not both think it was closed [at the time], we probably never would have met," Wolan said, laughing.

A few days later, while at a pizzeria for a lacrosse team function, the text messaging between the two started.

And it hasn't stopped.

Wolan was a four-year varsity lacrosse player at Lane Tech and she said the team was "very accepting and loving" with a gay teammate. There were no issues, she said.

Wolan was not part of Lane Tech's GSA due to her sports commitments.

Wolan said she will once again be attending the Chicago Gay Pride Parade. In fact, she said it's "awesome and I'm very excited for that Sunday."

Supporting Ola

Courtney Feuer was all smiles when Wolan was named king, and still smiling at the honor weeks later.

Feuer is one of about 10 LGBT teachers at Lane Tech, she said, each out to varying degrees.

"I felt it was a huge thing. First, that it was safe for her to run, and second, that she won," said Feuer, married to fellow CPS teacher Kris Himebaugh. "I went to an all-girls private [high] school. I have since learned that six or seven [classmates] also are gay, and I didn't know about any of them [while in school]

"The fact that Ola was comfortable enough to do this … wow.

"Kris and I were so excited [when Wolan was announced as king]. I was so emotional about it."

Feuer and Himebaugh not only attended prom, but they also danced at times alongside Wolan and Phillips.

"That was incredible," Feuer said.

"Sure, the LGBT community still has a long way to go, with marriage rights and more, but the fact [Wolan was named king] and they were safe, and that I was able to attend with my wife … that's awesome."

Feuer and Himebaugh, together for nine years, had a large wedding, eight years ago this summer, performed by Feuer's sister and Himebaugh's best friend. "It was wonderful, fantastic; we had a blast … it's just not legal," Feuer said.

Same-sex marriage laws in Illinois will be different, eventually, for Wolan, Feuer said.

"By the time Ola wants to get married [to a woman], it won't even be something she'll have to think about," Feuer said. "Seeing Ola as the king made me really proud of the school. The cheers for her that night were just amazing."

Wolan and Phillips were confident at prom, and also have shared intimate moment on campus, kissing in the hallways at school.

Feuer busted their PDA, with a smile.

"It's a pleasure, sort of, to say to you two to stop that, which is something I say to straight couples too," Feuer said. "But the fact they feel safe to do it in school is incredible."


Lane Tech teacher out and proud

by Ross Forman

It's been a decade of extreme differences for Courtney Feuer, a teacher at Lane Tech High School on Chicago's North Side—on the personal front, that is.

During her first few years at Lane Tech, she hid her sexual orientation from almost everyone—students, administrators, parents and even fellow teachers.

"I was very careful about how much [information] I shared about myself," said Feuer, originally from Columbus, Ohio, and a Chicago resident since 1997. "I definitely did not tell students [about my sexual orientation], and was very careful about what I told colleagues."

And when she brought Kris Himebaugh, her wife, to events, they were friends, that's it, nothing more. They didn't hold hands in public, and Feuer never introduced Himebaugh as her wife.

"I was careful about that for a while," said Feuer, 38, who came out as a sophomore at Miami (Ohio) University in 1994.

Feuer and Himebaugh, also a CPS teacher, have been together for nine years. They have twin children, two dogs and a cat, and live in the Edgewater neighborhood.

As Feuer built seniority at the school, she also started coming out more and more, perhaps to a student or a teacher here or there.

Then she became pregnant, and there was no hiding anymore, she said.

"I just thought, 'How can I bring children into the world and not be honest about my family?'" Feuer said.

Since coming out, the second time, "I have only had positive responses."

No negative responses from parents, students, faculty, or anyone.

"It's been surprisingly comfortable," she said.

In fact, a few years ago, a student came out to Feuer—and she had no idea or even a suspicion that he was gay. He told her, "Since you've been so out about your life, I had the courage to come out to my mom."

Feuer added, "If that's the only thing [positive] to happen because of being out, that's fantastic."

Feuer participated in an It Gets Better video, produced by broadcast students. Himebaugh and their kids (Byron and Leona) also were in the video, filmed on campus and ultimately aired on the school news.

Feuer taught British literature and women in literature this year, her 10th at Lane Tech.

"The dialogue at school has gotten so much better," said Feuer, who has photos of Himebaugh and their kids on display in her classroom.

"I have never had an issue [being gay], which is so refreshing. It's also something that I never envisioned. When I first started here, I'll admit, I was terrified about being discovered as gay."

The principal at the school when she started was very religious, so Feuer said he felt forced to remain silent about her orientation. The next principal, "I think she knew [that I was gay], but don't know [for certain]," Feuer said.

When Feuer told school administrators that she was on going on maternity leave, she met with the assistant principal who was known for being very religious, very conservative. "When I left her office that day, she said, 'Congratulations and please tell your husband congratulations, too,'" Feuer recalled.

For the first time with an administrator, Feuer then came out.

Feuer said, "Actually, it's my wife."

The administrator was very apologetic, Feuer said. In fact, the administrator went out of her way to show how accepting she was with Feuer and her sexual orientation; she has repeatedly asked about Himebaugh and sent gifts when the babies were born.

Feuer's coming-out to students was spurred by the annual Chicago Marathon. She had been training to run the event with her sister in 2007, and was fundraising for a student group that she sponsors, which raises awareness of domestic violence.

Many students went to the marathon, even though Feuer was not able to run. They cheered for Feuer's sister, who many had met.

Himebaugh was there, too.

"After the race, a few students asked who Kris was," Feuer said. "I thought I had to be honest at that point. After all, these are kids who trust me with a lot of their thoughts, their ideas."

Feuer was admittedly emotional when she came out to students.

They were fine with a lesbian teacher. "To them, it was like, whatever," Feuer said.

Feuer is not part of the Lane Tech gay-straight alliance (GSA), mostly because of the time constraints due to her children. The Lane Tech GSA has been around for about 12 or 13 years, she said, and it was started by a straight teacher who just saw a need, she said.

Feuer estimated there are about 25 LGBT students at Lane Tech—equally split, gay and lesbian. She recalls at least one transgender student in recent years, though Feuer was not sure if the student had graduated.

There are about 4,500 Lane Tech students, and more than 250 teachers.

Feuer said there are other gay teachers at Lane Tech, perhaps about a dozen. One Spanish teacher, for instance, has a photo of himself and his husband on his desk.

"It's been pleasantly surprising," she said.

This article shared 46877 times since Sun Jun 23, 2013
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

WORLD Fertility strategy, trans youth charity, French PM, Mexican spots
The British government committed to a 10-year strategy to end discrimination against "female same-sex couples" seeking fertility services, according to Human Rights Watch. The first-ever Women's Health Strategy for England ...

Gay News

Trevor Project returns donation from controversial tech company
The Trevor Project—a leading nonprofit devoted to the mental well-being of LGBTQ+ youth which wants "a world where all LGBTQ young people see a bright future for themselves," according to its website—has returned a donation from ...

Gay News

Newsom signs bill making California a sanctuary state for trans youths
On Sept. 29, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that aims to protect transgender youths and their families from bans against gender-affirming care, the Los Angeles Times reported. Senate Bill 107, by state ...

Gay News

GLAAD releases third annual 20 Under 20 list
-- From a press release - New York, NY—GLAAD revealed its third annual 20 Under 20 list, spotlighting 20 young LGBTQ people, ages 20 and younger, who are accelerating acceptance of LGBTQ people while shaping the future of media and activism. GLAAD's ...

Gay News

GLAAD responds to weekend of anti-LGBTQ+ violence, poll suggests 2/3 of GOPs back discussion of LGBTQ+s in schools
-- From a press release - (Monday, September 26, 2022) GLAAD condemns a wave of violence against the LGBTQ community across the country and calls for increased protections and support for LGBTQ people and youth, as new data reveals that a vast ...

Gay News

Coalition decries Des Plaines candidate training sponsored by anti-LGBTQ+ groups
A coalition of parents, educators and pro-LGBTQ+, pro-equity groups held a press conference Sept. 24 in front of the Courtyard by Marriott Chicago O'Hare hotel in Des Plaines to protest a school-board candidate training being held ...

Gay News

DoJ announces $22M to address, prevent sexual assault on campuses
The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) announced nearly $22 million in upcoming grant awards to address and prevent sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on college campuses; provide services to youth victims and children ...

Gay News

BOOKS 2022 #BannedTogether virtual auction taking place Sept. 22-25
On Sept. 22-25, non-profit organization Pride and Less Prejudice (PLP) will hold its second annual #BannedTogether virtual auction to raise $10,000 to send 800 LGBTQ+-inclusive books to elementary schools across the United States and Canada. The ...

Gay News

Pritzker appoints Isoye to chair the Illinois State Board of Education
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker appointed Dr. Steven Isoye, a former educator and superintendent, to chair the Illinois State Board of Education, effective immediately. Isoye follows in the footsteps of Darren Reisberg, a member of the LGBTQ+ ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Marriage bill, drag queen dies, Dutch queen visits, university sued
A bipartisan group of senators trying to pass same-sex marriage protection legislation pushed a vote until after the November election—a move the officials say increases their chances of success but avoids forcing the GOP on record ...

Gay News

Texas district court issues third directive benefiting trans youths
On Sept. 16, the Travis County District Court issued a third injunction blocking Texas from implementing a directive targeting trans youth and their families across the state. The directive ordered the Department of Family and Protective ...

Gay News

Gov. Pritzker adjusts COVID-19 requirements to address current needs
-- From a press release - Chicago — As part of his continuing plan to carefully unwind the state's COVID-19 executive orders, Gov. JB Pritzker updated testing requirements for school and childcare personnel, rescinding the requirement ...

Gay News

SCOTUS sides with New York university's LGBTQ+ club for now
On Sept. 14, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a vote of five to four, declined a request from Yeshiva University in New York to block a New York County Supreme Court order that requires the university ...

Gay News

IHSA to make history when two Black women football coaches face off
When DuSable and Fenger high schools face off on the football field on Thursday, Sept. 15, the game will make IHSA (Illinois High School Association) history. Fenger's Jouscelyn Mayfield and DuSable's Konesha Rhea will be the ...

Gay News

Campus Pride releases 'absolute worst, most unsafe campuses for LGBTQ+ people'
-- From a press release - CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Campus Pride released The Worst List documenting the "Absolute Worst, Most Unsafe Campuses for LGBTQ+ Youth." The Worst List is an annual listing of colleges and universities that have chosen to openly ...


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.







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.