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A Gay in the Life: Student Francis Shervinski
by Terrence Chappell, Windy City Times
2011-04-06

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"Homecoming queen" is a title often bestowed on young ladies who are beautiful, popular and charming. Columbia College just crowned its homecoming queen this year at the fourth annual Mary Blood Ball. The newly minted homecoming queen is everything and more one would expect out of a homecoming queen: confident, smart and socially aware. However, this one is also an openly gay man.

Francis Shervinski, a Columbia College freshman, won the widely prized title of Columbia College's first homecoming queen. However, Shervinski isn't your everyday prissy homecoming queen whose primping includes Vaseline-covered teeth. Shervinski sees his new title as an opportunity to promote positivity, acceptance, and being yourself.

"I will take a stance on a lot of issues concerning gender, race, class, and sexuality. I don't plan to be passive at all. I'm willing to fight for who I am and hopefully be an inspiration to not only the LGBT community, but everyone," said Shervinski.

Shervinski's platform reflects his involvement with various student organizations on campus. He is an ally of the Asian student organization; Black Students United; an active member of Common Ground, Columbia College's LGBT student-run organization; and a representative for multicultural affairs, a division of student affairs that exists to foster and support the intellectual, social and cultural development of all students, in particular those from diverse cultural backgrounds and lifestyles, according to the website.

Shervinski's involvement with Columbia's student organizations was evident at the Mary Blood Ball as he paraded through the crowd wearing a blue sequined dress and a necklace of actual bananas, an ode to "going bananas" at the party. Never to be caught in one particular clique, Shervinski talked, posed for pictures, danced and hugged other students at the party. However, not the way a politician or a homecoming queen in running would, but because he actually knows and are friends with all these people.

"I consider Common Ground as my home away from home. I have received nothing but amazing feedback from them," said Shervinski.

When Shervinski's name was called to stage to claim his title as Columbia College's first ever homecoming queen, he felt gratitude in addition to overwhelming pride, happiness and shock. As applause and cheering exploded in the room when Shervinski took to stage, students, staff, and partygoers were unaware that Shervinski is lucky to be here. About seven years ago, Shervinski severed his aorta in a bad car accident that left him in a coma for two months. He had to learn how to walk and talk all over again.

"This is me taking a negative and making it into a positive. I feel like I have to do it all. It's either all or nothing," said Shervinski.

Interestingly enough, Shervinski's homecoming king, Russel Yost, is an openly gay man as well, and is president of Common Ground. Yost was actually happy to have a fellow gay man as his homecoming queen, adding that it speaks volumes about Columbia's faculty and student body.

"I think it says a lot about our faculty. I think it's amazing that they would even allow a guy to run for homecoming queen. It's also great that the student voted for him [ Shervinski ] ," Yust said.

With three other sisters, Shervinski is the only one of his siblings to be crowned homecoming queen. He said that there is "no jealousy or bitterness" among his sisters for his new homecoming queen title. Not only is his family proud and happy for him, but they also are avid supporters of the LGBT community.

HE STATS

Name: Francis Shervinski

Age: 25

Neighborhood: Lincoln Park

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa.

Relationship status: In a relationship

Favorite Chicago restaurant: Pick Me Up Cafe

Favorite music: Hip-hop and rock

Favorite TV show: Dexter

Pets: One kitten


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