Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-12-07



ONYX Midwest forum tackles racist performance at Touche's anniversary party
by Carrie Maxwell

This article shared 1130 times since Sunday
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

In a response to the racist performance that took place at the leather, fetish and bear-focused Touche Chicago's 45th anniversary celebration on Nov. 1, 2022, ONYX Midwest hosted a community forum Jan. 21 at The Leather Archives and Museum.

Touche Chicago hired Las Vegas-based puppeteer Jerry Halliday to perform at its anniversary celebration and, among the puppets he brought was the character SistaGirl, who is Black. During the performance some customers became visibly upset and offended by Halliday's caricature of a Black woman and left the event, with one bartender also quitting that evening.

Following the event, the bar's management apologized in a written statement and Halliday stated he would no longer include SistaGirl in his act.

A Nov. 9 gathering to discuss the issue was scheduled by Touche management, but was canceled after Touche's manager, David Boyer, fell ill. As of this publication, Touche has not indicated that a future gathering date will take place. Onyx Midwest decided to step in and provide the community with a space to discuss this and other issues.

Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus Interim Executive Director Dr. Keith Green moderated the Jan. 21 discussion with attendees. ONYX Midwest Vice President Legendary ONYX provided some ground rules, including being respectful of one another and the space and being mindful of word choices when speaking. ONYX Midwest President Subzero ONYX said he was glad this forum was taking place so the community could find ways to move forward.

Green, who is not an ONYX member, said he considers himself "ONYX adjacent," and added, "The heart of this discussion is really a conversation about safe space. What does it mean it mean to have a safe space?"

One person said that meant being able to go to a bar and not having to hide certain parts of himself while feeling fully protected by the community. Another person focused on knowing that people in a space, especially those in positions of authority, care, and that if they make mistakes they learn from them, so as to do better going forward.

In terms of safe spaces specifically, the audience generally agreed that, for many in Chicago, Touche had been theirs.

Green asked when Touche started to feel unsafe to them. The answers varied, including a Pet Patrol member who said it was after 9/11 because people would ask "what was this Muslim doing here." Miguel Torres said he had heard from trans and non-binary people who told him Touche has never felt safe for them.

Turning to the November incident, Green asked how audience members have felt since that time. He also asked if anyone from Touche was in the audience. A handful of people raised their hands. Green thanked them for being at the discussion.

Legionnaire ONYX said that there had been a lack of true accountability, including a dialogue between the parties "so there can be learning" and the opportunity to move forward. He pointed to the fact that this incident happened two months ago, and this dialogue should have happened sooner.

Fox ONYX spoke about the COVID-19 safety measures that Touche had, which made the bar a safe space for him. That the feeling was taken away after last November's incident. He echoed Legionnaire's sentiment that it had to be addressed immediately.

Rubber Willy talked about how much the community is evolving and said Touche's management needs to do so as well. He was angry and hurt when he read about the incident.

Chicago Department of Public Health LGBTQ Health Outreach Liaison Antonio King added that respect for one another is key community members' wellbeing, as is the ability to be one's authentic self. He spoke about the history of racial discrimination on the north side of Chicago within the LGBTQ community that persists to this day. In terms of what happened at Touche, he said what should have happened was apologizing immediately, without any caveats and doing better going forward.

Green turned the discussion to audience members who were at Touche that night and asked them to speak about that experience.

John Moore said "it was worse in person" and that, after the incident, he started reflecting on his past and recalled some things he now considers "cringe moments."

Jaeger ONYX said he was three feet away from Halliday and was "mortified," and that the incident "was beyond appalling." He said that the puppet "looked like blackface, jingoism and minstrel all wrapped up in one puppet." He walked out of the event, emailed Boyer right away to express his displeasure, and contacted Halliday to call him out on his racism.

Torres said the night was fun at the beginning, but when Halliday began his performance, his mood shifted to shock at what he witnessed, causing him to immediately leave the event.

Chris Beaux, the Touche bartender who quit that night, said, "I felt very betrayed by the management" and community members going along with the performance. He added that he felt "physically sick and embarrassed," which prompted his resignation that night.

The event shifted to a one-on-one talk between Boyer and Subzero after Boyer got up and expressed remorse half-way through the discussion. Boyer said he came "to listen and learn" in order to do better going forward.

Subzero said that the important thing is to "work towards change," and that the fact that Touche has not done anything to make this happen troubles him.

Green asked where Touche stands, and Boyer said that, immediately after the incident ,he met with Touche staff to get their input, and was unsure of how to react to ONYX's statement that included his termination. He said the call for his firing closed the door on any dialogue between him and ONYX at the time, but he is open to a dialogue now.

"I can understand [your] point of view," said Subzero in reference to Boyer's comment. "We are one hundred percent open to having a conversation."

Subzero added that he can understand that Boyer might not know where to start, but the silence in response to the list of ONYX's demands since then is the problem.

Boyer spoke about not knowing how to put a forum together with people he relied on in the past who were now calling for his termination. He said that now he feels like a door has been opened.

Demos ONYX called out what he called Boyer's arrogance and unwillingness to educate himself on the issues and what the community really wants from him and the rest of Touche's management.

Green asked if there are "productive, constructive points or takeaways that [ONYX wants] to be a part of the conversation."

Some of the suggestions from ONYX included efforts to make it possible to "surround yourself with diverse people" at Touche, meetings with ONYX and trans and nonbinary people and monetary donations to BIPOC-focused LGBTQ organizations. Other suggestions included responding to emails in a prompt fashion, more diversity in Touche's advertising of future events, an accountability structure for Touche's management when it comes to how trans and nonbinary people are treated at the bar, and that Boyer "sits in this discomfort."

One audience member specifically pointed out that Boyer's apology when he first spoke in the meeting came with excuses and that was not okay. This prompted Boyer to say "I am sorry" without any caveats to close out the discussion.

Prior to this discussion, ONYX Midwest posted a statement on its website stating, "We condemn the following: racism; misogyny, sexism; reinforcing old, demoralizing, discriminatory, dehumanizing and unspeakably damaging stereotypes; lack of response from the bar management not to recognize, comprehend, take responsibility and act to intervene and stop this hurtful performance. The damage caused is beyond measure as a result of the lack of response. The complicity of the bar patrons in causing this damage when they sided with the performer when asked of the 'heckler' should leave the bar."

The Onyx Midwest website post also stated that the organization would "remove our Colors from Touche, cease holding our monthly bar nights at Touche beginning in Nov. 2022 and suspend David Boyer's honorary membership from ONYX Midwest until after a timeframe to be decided by ONYX Midwest, as well as completed educational activities."

See .

See .

This article shared 1130 times since Sunday
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

Touche Chicago's 45th-anniversary celebration marred by racist performance
Racist performance mires Touche Chicago's 45th anniversary celebration By Carrie Maxwell On Nov. 1, the leather, fetish and bear-focused Touche Chicago celebrated its 45th anniversary with a feature performance by ...

Gay News

Howard Brown Health's Big Orange Ball has 'Saturday Night Fever' theme
Howard Brown Health's Big Orange Ball was back in-person at Park West on Oct. 22—this time with a big (not orange) disco ball. About 300 people brought their Halloween spirit to the event, dressed in costumes ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ HISTORY MONTH bell hooks: A voice of love, activism and intersectionality
When bell hooks died on Dec. 15, 2021, it was a gut punch. There was no time when bell hooks' extraordinary writing and feminist and lesbian theorizing was not part of the queer community. There was ...

Gay News

'Martinis That Matter' to honor former TPAN CEO Jeff Berry on Oct. 30
Marty's Martini Bar, 1511 W. Balmoral Ave., presents "Martinis That Matter," a community giving-back program that funds community groups, charities and organizations. Profits from the sales during these events go to the organizations hosting. On Sunda ...

Gay News

Chelsea Manning, Jessica Lange and more are part of CHF's fall slate
This fall, the Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF) is bringing some of the biggest names in film, politics, music, literature and activism to stages across Chicago for conversations addressing the theme of "PUBLIC" and how people are ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ HISTORY MONTH Urvashi Vaid: A Voice for Liberation and Justice
When Urvashi Vaid died at 63 in May 2022 after a valiant fight with breast cancer, thousands of LGBTQ+ people who had been touched by her decades of activism mourned her passing. Over a half-century of ...

Gay News

National Day of Action reproductive-rights rally set for Oct. 8
In Chicago, a broad group of more than 40 organizations—including a who's who of reproductive-justice groups—is organizing a rally in solidarity with a National Day of Action to defend and expand access to safe and legal ...

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

Dozens arrested at EuroPride march in Serbia
Serbian police arrested more than 60 people as thousands of LGBTQI+ activists turned out for Belgrade's EuroPride march on Sept. 17—despite a governmental ban, The Guardian reported. The event had been intended as the culmination of ...

Gay News

'Barlesque' launches at Sidetrack
On Sept. 1 at Northalsted/Boystown nightspot Sidetrack, Barlesque kicked off. Nightlife figure Khloe Daniels hosted, introducing this year's bars, performers and choreographers. Barlesque brings Chicago nightlife superstars, local bars and ...

Gay News

TPAN bringing back 'Barlesque' starting Sept. 1
Barlesque is back. On Thursday, Sept. 1, at 7 p.m. at Northalsted/Boystown nightspot Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted St., Barlesque will kick off. Nightlife figure Khloe Daniels will host introduce this year's bars, performers and choreographers. Attendanc ...

Gay News

Touche holds fundraiser for Windy City Times
Leather bar Touche, 6412 N. Clark St., held its regular Friday fundraiser on July 8—and the fortunate recipient this time was Windy City Times. Approximately $200 were raised during this benefit raffle. Touche has been a ...

Gay News

Photos of Chicago's Daniel Sotomayor included in new Smithsonian exhibit
The Smithsonian's first gallery dedicated to Latino history and culture has opened its doors to the public at the National Museum of American History, NBC News noted. Billed as a precursor to a national Latino museum ...

Gay News

Local trans icon June LaTrobe dies
June M. LaTrobe—a Chicago trans icon known for her activism—has passed away. She turned 81 on June 1. Being an advocate for the trans community, LaTrobe participated in many events (such as protests) and often took ...

Gay News

Puerto Rican Arts Alliance holds 'Community Parades and Activism'
Puerto Rican Arts Alliance (PRAA) held the a panel discussion—"Community Parades and Activism: LGBTQ Claiming its Space"—June 4 at the PRAA Center. According to its website, PRAA is "a premier ...


Copyright © 2023 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.