The recent closing of the Cellblock bar's back room and a rumored raid at the Manhandler had tongues wagging in the community about a possible crackdown on the city's gay sex spaces, but sources at both bars said, in this case, fiction is stranger than truth.
"We had some trouble with the roof," said Patti Brown, manager of the Cellblock, 3702 N. Halsted, on why the bar's back room has been closed. "Hopefully it'll be open this weekend. We're working on it as we speak."
Contrary to bar buzz, he said, the closing was not related to a recent visit by Chicago police.
"I could tell you 85 different rumors about why that room is closed, and none of them are true," Brown said.
"The police responded to ( an anonymous ) complaint, they didn't find anything, and they left," he said. "We have a very good relationship with the police. ... They were here doing their job; it had nothing to do with us."
He noted that the bar's owner is on a police department advisory committee.
At the Manhandler, 1948 N. Halsted, a staffer who asked not to be identified also said the gossip mill had blown their situation out of proportion.
"They said there was a police raid? That's so funny," he said. "There was not a police raid. ( A bartender ) called the police" after confronting a disruptive customer who had been kicked out of the bar on a previous occasion.
The man was arrested and faces a court date, he said.
Rumors of a possible crackdown came as some said the incidents were suspiciously close to the November closing of the bar Big Daddies, 2914 N. Broadway.
According to the Chicago Department of Revenue, the bar's license expired on Nov. 15 and owners did not renew it.
Some observers say the rumors speak to the community's fears about a new, Republican presidential administration. When police arrived at Cellblock, for instance, one patron reportedly turned to another and said, "Welcome to the next four years."
to open here in March
The newly launched Rikki Swin Institute, Gender Education, Research, Library and Archives will open in Chicago March 22, scheduled to coincide with the International Foundation for Gender Education ( IFGE ) Annual Gender Conference being held in suburban Arlington Heights the week before.
The conference, which draws specialists, physicians and activists from around the world, is being co-sponsored by the institute.
The institute, founded by transwoman Rikki Swin, aims to serve as a trans-oriented education and research organization. Projects and programs include archives on gender issues and an upcoming digital video educational series.
Wright's work to be shown in MCA exhibit
Lambda Publications' own Israel Wright is one of 40 local Black photographers featured in a special photographic exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in conjunction with Black History Month.
The exhibition, entitled The Journey: The Next Hundred Years, was organized by the Chicago Alliance of African-American Photographers ( CAAAP ) . It will debut at the MCA from Feb. 13-March 4 before traveling around the city on tour. A companion e-zine, The Journey Magazine, can be found at www.CAAAP.org .
With about 80 photographs, The Journey portrays different aspects of daily life in Chicago's African-American communities, including the arts, family, religious life, politics and social issues. It also attempts to address issues often omitted from discussions of the Black community, such as age, sexuality and class.
"It is the most exciting thing I have participated in to date as it relates to my photography," said Wright, the exhibit's only openly gay photographer. "I am in a pool that includes Pulitzer Prize-winning and world renown photographers. It really is a great experience."
Other participants include the Chicago Sun-Times' Bob Black, the Chicago Tribune's Milbert Brown and Pulitzer Prize winners John White and Ovie Carter.
An opening reception was held Feb. 13 at the MCA's Mayer Education Center and the McCormick Tribune Orientation space. Admission to the MCA is free on Tuesdays.
Parts of The Journey will also travel to O'Hare International Airport, the South Side Community Art Center, Chicago State University, the University of Illinois-Chicago, the Chicago Tribune and the ETA Creative Arts Foundation.
AIDSCare hires firm
for West side complex
Environ, Inc. Architecture, Design and Planning has been appointed by AIDSCare, Inc., to design a housing campus planned for the West Side.
The site will serve about 116 adults and children affected by HIV/AIDS, offering child care, case management, physical and mental healthcare, chemical dependence counseling and spiritual support.
The campus will be made up of six buildings with residential space, a multipurpose facility for events, a commercial and retail building and low to moderate income family housing. Residential accommodations will be made for both families with children and single homeless individuals.
Groundbreaking on the first of two phases is set for April 2002, with a completion date set for August 2003.
TPAN 2001 Drug Guide
The 2001 edition of Positively Aware's Drug Guide, 2001: A Drug Odyssey, is now available at the Test Positive Aware Network office, 1258 W. Belmont, and other locations around Chicago.
This year's drug guide, the fifth published by TPAN, includes information on HIV drugs, opinions from community activists and HIV specialists, an index of 2000 Positively Aware articles and a calendar of TPAN's events and programs.
Positively Aware is published bi-monthly, with a Spanish-language version published quarterly.
Coalition looks to increase HIV awareness in Black community
The Community Capacity Building Coalition ( CCBC ) this week announced the establishment of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day Feb. 23.
Organizations plan to work with health departments in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., to host events to increase awareness and encourage people to get tested for HIV.
The events come in the wake of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics showing that HIV infection is the leading cause of death for African-Americans ages 25-44, and that Blacks account for the majority of new HIV infections.
Call ( 877 ) 867-1446.
Rape Victim Advocates begins girls counseling
Rape Victim Advocates has launched a counseling group for adolescent girls, ages 13-17, who are survivors of rape, incest or other forms of sexual assault.
The free group meets downtown on Wednesday nights and is run by staff counselor Tara Bryant-Edwards. Activities will include videos, art projects and a field trip.
For information or to apply for the program, call ( 312 ) 663-6303, ext. 32.
The Colin Higgins Foundation is accepting nominations for its second annual Courage Awards.
The awards will be given to three individuals "for bravery in the face of discrimination, intolerance and bigotry based on sexual orientation," the foundation said in a release.
Nominations are being taken in three categories: GLBT or questioning youth; adults who work with youth; and allies of any age. Deadline is Feb. 23. Visit www.colinhiggins.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Colin Higgins was a writer/director responsible for the films Harold and Maude, Nine to Five and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He established the foundation in 1986 before his death from AIDS in 1988.