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 2022-06-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWPOINTS Finding My Brother, Miss Gay Black America
by Mary Morten
2012-12-03

This article shared 3826 times since Mon Dec 3, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


In the past few decades, a divide has emerged in the LGBT population, between the transgendered and gay communities. The transgendered community is seen as "other," and often as a novelty, particularly in the case of female impersonators or drag queens. What many people in the LGBT community often forget (or never knew to begin with) is that the transgendered community have put themselves on the front line in the battle for equal rights.

When the Stonewall Inn was raided in June of 1969, female patrons of the bar were taken into the women's bathroom to have their genders "checked". Of course, some of the patrons who were dressed as and appeared to be female were not, and these men became some of the first of many to fall victim to the fight for equality. Though this would not be the last time that the transgendered community took the first hits from the population at large, its spirit was never broken, and as years have gone by, it has grown stronger and evolved into what it has become today.

Transgendered people are often dismissed as not being a part of the gay community, but what may people forget is that while we as gay men and women do not necessarily wear our gayness on our sleeves, the transgendered community is not always afforded the option.

Ronnie Reed was the youngest of four brothers and two younger sisters on the south side of Chicago. He taught his sisters how to wear make up, made their prom dresses, and showed them how to style their hairpieces just right. An effeminate black boy in the 1970s, Ronnie stuck out from other men in his community on the South Side, and suffered prejudices and harassment until he was old enough to move away and pursue his interests in hair styling.

While working in hair salons, Ronnie fell in love with the entertainment industry. Soon Ronnie became drag performer Terri Livingston and began touring around the country and the world with his act, often focusing on the persona of singer Shirley Bassey. Over the course of his hair styling career, Ronnie worked with such personalities as Stephanie Mills and Maurice Hines, while also serving a tour in Vietnam.

Ronnie soon became so enthralled by the entertainment and hair styling industries that he would not contact his family for months at a time. His mother died in 1981 and since his family had no way of reaching him, they endured the tragedy without him. He did not find that his mother had passed away until several months later when he called home.

Terri was known in the drag community nation and worldwide; she performed at clubs across the country and was a regular at the Miss Continental Contest at the Baton Show Lounge in Chicago. In 1989, Terri was crowned as the first Miss Gay Black America at Club 21 in Indianapolis, IN. Unfortunately, Terri had contracted HIV, which had developed into AIDS in 1987. He was living in Indiana by that time, and refused to come home to be a burden, against the wishes of his sisters and brother, who wanted to take care of him. By the time of the pageant, he was so sick that he was unable to complete the competition, but was still crowned queen.

Terri Livingston was my brother. I was one of the little girls whose hair he did, whose clothes he made, whom he taught how to wear make up. It didn't seem at all wrong; we just assumed that this was how Ronnie was. He moved away from the prejudices of the South Side of Chicago as soon as he could, falling into a world of drag performance that I really knew nothing about except when I found my 8th grade graduation shoes in his closet. Since he got very sick right after we reconnected and continued to travel when he could, I never got to ask him so many things about his life that I wanted to know. My family was not one to have prejudices against our brother—his illness wasn't an issue, regardless of its origin. He was our brother, he was sick, and we were going to take care of him.

I am currently in preproduction for a film that I am calling Miss Gay Black America: The Terri Livingston Story, which will explore Terri's unique life through interviews both with his old friends and fans and the owners and managers of clubs in which he used to perform. The film will also examine the evolution of the culture and public perception of female impersonation, specifically its evolution since the 1980s as well as the drag community's reaction to the AIDS epidemic.

Miss Gay Black America: The Terri Livingston Story is a tribute to my brother Terri Livingston—an amazing performer, and an amazing person. Throughout this project, I hope to get to know the man, and woman, that I didn't get to know when he was alive.

If you knew Terri—as a performer, friend, or anything else—please e-mail me at admin@mortengroup.com . I would love to hear any stories that you have about my brother and interview you for the film.

Mary F. Morten

Director, Miss Gay Black America


This article shared 3826 times since Mon Dec 3, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Actress Anne Heche declared brain-dead at age 53
2022-08-13
Anne Heche—the actress who starred in a string of high-profile late '90s movies including Six Days Seven Nights, Donnie Brasco and Wag the Dog as well as Emmy-winning TV shows such as Men in Trees and ...


Gay News

Haven Chicago presenting first-ever Festival Au Cinema on Aug. 26-28
2022-08-09
-- From a press release - CHICAGO (August 8, 2022) — Haven Chicago is pleased to present its first annual Festival au Cinéma, the company's new platform for visionary and innovative filmmakers and media artists staking their claim in the future of ...


Gay News

Chicago filmmaker releases documentary about activist, writer Joseph Beam
2022-08-09
A Chicago filmmaker's desire to learn more about the quote "Black men loving Black men is a revolutionary act" led him to a community of writers and activists who helped tell the story of the man ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Jane Lynch, Dwayne Johnson, 'Star Trek,' Beyonce, Shea Coulee
2022-08-07
NBC has renewed the Jane Lynch-hosted game show Weakest Link for a third season, Variety noted. Season three will run for 20 episodes. The series is based on a British format distributed by BBC Studios that ...


Gay News

TELEVISION 'They/Them' cast members reflect on making the film
2022-08-06
They/Them (pronounced "They-slash-Them") is a new 2022 film from Blumhouse Productions in which the terrors of an LGBTQ+ conversion camp invade the lives of a diverse group of young people who spend a summer together. The ...


Gay News

Actress Anne Heche in critical condition after car crash
2022-08-06
Actress Anne Heche reportedly crashed her car into a house in the Mar Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles on Aug. 5, setting both the vehicle and the house on fire, according to CNN. She is now ...


Gay News

TELEVISION Darwin Del Fabro ('They/Them') talks horror, love scenes and inner strength
2022-08-04
Queer Brazilian singer/actor Darwin Del Fabro is one of the cast members of the horror movie They/Them (pronounced "they-SLASH-them")—a slasher movie (get it?) set ...


Gay News

THEATER 'Cabaret' coming to Metropolis Arts on Sept. 15
2022-08-02
Musical Broadway classic and hit film Cabaret re-creates the decadent and complicated world of 1929 Berlin at the Arlington Heights venue Metropolis Performing Arts Centre on Sept. 15-Oct. 22. Cabaret is Kander and Ebb's legendary musical ...


Gay News

Vallas speaks at event of group known for anti-LGBTQ+ views [UPDATE]
2022-08-01
Former Chicago Public Schools CEO and current mayoral candidate Paul Vallas spoke at a fundraiser for Awake Illinois—a group that has been criticized for its transphobic and homophobic rhetoric, The Chicago Reader reported. The group hosted ...


Gay News

Billy Masters
2022-08-01
"Mike, you's in danger, man."—Whoopi Goldberg paraphrases her line from Ghost (or, as Barbara Walters always called it, The Ghost) in response to Pence's former aide Marc Short revealing what almost happened to the VP on ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Comic Con, WNBA player, Timothee Chalamet, Kate McKinnon
2022-07-31
Out Magazine listed at least seven LGBTQ+-related characters and projects that were unveiled at San Diego Comic Con. Some of them include Michaela Coel (from TV's I May Destroy You) as a queer character in the ...


Gay News

Gene Siskel Film Center running 'Pioneers of Queer Cinema'
2022-07-31
In partnership with the UCLA Film & Television Archive, the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. Clark St., presents differing, often radical explorations of sexual orientation and gender identity in the series "Pioneers of Queer Cinema." ...


Gay News

VIEWS Can gay men dial back sex until our monkeypox vaccinations?
2022-07-28
Years from now, there will be gay men who made it through a case of monkeypox who will have the scars up and down the shaft of their penis to prove it. Let me repeat that. Scars. On their cock. For ...


Gay News

Billy Masters
2022-07-24
"First of all, I'm glad to have a president who can ride a bicycle."—Pete Buttigieg's response to Rep. Troy Nehls' quip that Biden "falls off bicycles." Anyone can sue over anything. There is no guilt or ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Broadway, 'Game of Thrones' prequel, Dexter Mayfield, Shania Twain
2022-07-24
The Broadway League announced that theaters will continue their recently adopted mask-optional policy for audiences at least through August, Deadline reported. The mask-optional policy—in which audiences are encouraged but not ...


 



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.