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 2021-12-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor


  WINDY CITY TIMES

DePaul has its 1st gay student-body president
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2011-10-26

This article shared 12392 times since Wed Oct 26, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Anthony Alfano was the team captain for his final two seasons of the four he played for the co-op Huntley Raiders varsity hockey team that also featured players from Marian Central Catholic High School.

A left-handed shooting forward, Alfano was popular on the team and quite the playmaker. He also excelled in the classroom at Huntley before graduating in 2008, earning a spot on the Dean's List and the National Honors Society.

However, the real Alfano was hidden in the closet, afraid to reveal to anyone that he was gay. In fact, he admits he dated girls at the time to hide his identity. No one had any idea what Alfano was going through emotionally. He was, quite simply, a wreck, ready to end his life.

"In high school, I was very suicidal because of my sexual orientation," Alfano told Windy City Times. "I grew up in a very Italian, very catholic household, and being gay was never a point of discussion. I believed, because the Catholic Church was preaching against being gay, that something was wrong with me and that I was inevitably going to hell."

He attempted suicide three times, each time trying to suffocate himself, but he could never actually do it.

"I always felt that if I could keep pushing and getting involved in [ high ] school that life would be fine after [ graduating ] ," Alfano said. "I was lucky. I didn't fully accept who I was until the end of my senior year in high school and, at that point, I was still very uncertain of where I was headed in life and coming-out was not even on my radar. It wasn't until I started college at DePaul and went on a retreat for first-year students where I truly understood the importance of coming-out.

"The day I returned from the retreat I called up my best friend back [ in the northwest suburbs ] and told her we needed to talk. That friend, Erika Kearns, was the first person I came out to, and I know it was a little difficult as she had a crush on me in high school.

"Then over winter break of my first year [ in college ] , I told all my friends back home and one in particular, Gretchen Bachrodt, was the most encouraging and supportive and was someone who, although I knew I could always count on, solidified that feeling when she told me she always knew, but waited for me to be ready."

As a DePaul sophomore, Alfano didn't tell his roommate, Ross Richmond, until one month after they were living together. "It was either out of fear or lack of clarity on how he perceived the LGBT community that I waited so long to tell him, but he has been the most supportive person in my life and has seen me in the worst and best of times," said Alfano, who has been roommates in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood with Richmond for three years, to this day. Richmond is straight.

As a sophomore, junior and now as a senior, Alfano came out to friends at school, family members and, this past summer, to his mom, Anna, which he said has been his most difficult coming-out.

"I'm feeling great at where I'm at and have a terrific support network of people behind me," Alfano said. "For me, coming out was a long, continuous journey that I'm on."

Alfano, 21, will graduate from DePaul next June with a double major ( international studies and political science with a focus in social, economic and environmental justice ) . His resume also boasts another amazing accomplishment: he is the first openly gay student body president in DePaul's 113-year history, and DePaul is the largest Catholic university in the United States.

"It's interesting, because the very nature of DePaul is such a welcoming and accepting atmosphere that I haven't really been too afraid to be open," Alfano said. "Being the first openly gay Student Body President at the largest Catholic university in the nation definitely adds a little more weight than just being a normal kid in college who attends class and sleeps all day. I must say it's a great experience and I'm fortunate to be in the position that I am, and that I have such a great support network although popular belief tends to lend its voice otherwise. I think, since DePaul is such a major university, that it allows me to have a platform where I am able to show others that life does get better and people do change."

DePaul president, Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, was not available for an interview about Alfano, but interim assistant vice president Robin Florzak issued a statement:

"DePaul University is a diverse place that welcomes people of all races, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations. Anthony made a courageous personal decision to discuss his sexuality with the university's student newspaper. Anthony is a remarkable young man and student leader, and we hope that his candor helps other young people facing these issues to feel comfortable discussing their orientation with family and friends."

Alfano doesn't accept the "pioneer" tag. "I just feel that I want to affect change at DePaul, to make sure every student has a great experience here, just as I have," he said. "I hope I am able to use this role not only to effect positive change at DePaul, but also to affect positive change in the lives of youth who are constantly put down by society and feel as though they cannot achieve their dreams and aspirations."

Alfano officially came out to everyone Oct. 10, during National Coming Out Month. That was planned, he said.

"I am not sure if I have any specific goals by coming out, except allowing others to see me as a person who was able to overcome a lot in life and be open about who I am in the position that I have," Alfano said. "Obviously [ short-term goals include ] making sure that our LGBT students have a voice at the table, but one that is equal for every student at DePaul.

"I thought it was really important and appropriate that I came out in this position during [ October ] and on National Coming Out Day because of the shared sense of history and unity that the LGBT community shares. I guess, in a way, this just adds to that history."

Alfano has been playing hockey since age 3, and the co-op Huntley Raiders team actually was started by his mom. Huntley didn't have a club team in the mid-2000s when Alfano started there, so Anna organized the parents of other hockey players to start the school's team.

Today, students from Huntley play on a co-op club team known as the Kings, featuring players from Jacobs, Marian Central, Belvidere and Belvidere North High Schools.

Alfano, meanwhile, now plays for the Chicago Gay Hockey Association ( CGHA ) men's league team at Johnny's Ice House in Chicago. He joined the CGHA team in June 2010 after meeting team members at the annual Gay Pride Parade.

"I joined [ the CGHA ] because hockey is a huge part of my life and I wanted to continue to play, but also wanted to be open about who I was as a person," Alfano said. "It seemed like the perfect opportunity to continue to play the game I love, but also have a group of people who have gone through similar experiences in life.

"The CGHA has really pushed me in my thinking of the importance of being out, especially within the community, but more importantly to those outside the LGBT community who are struggling with their identity. I think it shows those who believe that gay people are different or aren't masculine enough that we are just the same as everyone else and that we can play sports, very well I might add; we just happen to be attracted to the same sex.

"Playing for the CGHA is something that I am going to carry with me through the rest of my life. It really has impacted my life in a positive way to have met a great group of people as these teammates, as well as the opportunities I have had being on the team."

Alfano is the team's youngest CGHA member ever.

"The CGHA has given me the ability to see those who identify as gay and also play hockey have a great and productive life," he said. "They share similar memories that I have of coming-out and playing hockey, so it's a great sense of camaraderie and really does make things in my life a lot easier. I truly learn a lot from everyone on the team and am happy to have met all of them."

Alfano said several CGHA members have impacted his life, including Andrew Sobotka, David Stefanski, Chris Jordan, Scott Mix and Justin O'Rourke. "They're all great and meaningful friends who have shared a lot of memories and wisdom with me that I will carry with me as I move forward through the rest of my life," he said. "I consider them some of my best friends and am so grateful that they are a part of my life."

Alfano said he is planning to take the LSAT exam next summer and then apply to law schools after that. He wants to be in law school within a few years after graduating. However, he first wants to travel around the world, doing service work for underrepresented populations.

Long-term, Alfano said he wants to work and advocate for progressive change, perhaps within the non-profit world, or government, or higher-education.

"I think the overall impact I am making in Chicago is really just helping to push the needle a little further for progressive change," Alfano said. "Showing youth in the city and around the country that they can make a difference, and that they can be who they want to be without fear in society. I hope that Chicago embraces me coming-out as the student body president at the largest Catholic university in the nation as a sign that times are changing and people are becoming more tolerant and accepting of others for who they are."


This article shared 12392 times since Wed Oct 26, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Bulls, Blackhawks fall short; 'Hawks reschedule games 2022-01-22
- In NBA action, the Chicago Bulls (28-16) fell short against the defending-champion Milwaukee Bucks (29-19), losing 94-90 in Wisconsin on Jan. 21. Bulls coach Billy Donovan was livid after the game. He was upset about Bucks ...


Gay News

HRC condemns NCAA for failure to protect LGBTQ+ athletes 2022-01-21
-- From a press release - WASHINGTON, D.C. — Late last night, the NCAA ratified (https://www.ncaa.org/news/2022/1/20/media-center-ncaa-members-approve-new-constitution.aspx) its new constitution, which does not include nondiscrimination policy language that had ...


Gay News

SPORTS Bulls end losing streak against Cleveland 2022-01-20
- The Chicago Bulls (28-15) ended their four-game losing streak with a sorely needed 117-104 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers (27-19) on Jan. 19 at the United Center. DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic combined for 54 points, ...


Gay News

NCAA updates trans-related policies 2022-01-20
- The NCAA has adopted a sport-by-sport approach for transgender athletes, bringing the organization in line with the U.S. and International Olympic Committees (IOC), POLITICO reported. Under the new guidelines, approved ...


Gay News

Texas' anti-trans youth sports law goes into effect 2022-01-18
- A new Texas law bars transgender student athletes from competing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity, Houston Public Media reported. House Bill 25 is one of several laws that went into effect ...


Gay News

SPORTS Bulls and Blackhawks both lose 2022-01-18
- Jan. 17 was not a good night for Chicago's NBA and NHL teams. The Chicago Bulls (27-15) lost their fourth straight game, 119-106 to the Memphis Grizzlies (31-15) in Tennessee. After snacking on teams with weaker ...


Gay News

Blackhawks win fourth straight; Bulls lose third consecutive game 2022-01-16
- The Chicago Blackhawks (15-18-5) defeated the Anaheim Ducks (19-15-7) 3-0 at the United Center on Jan. 15. It was Chicago's fourth consecutive victory. There were 73 combined shots between the Blackhawks and the Ducks—the most in ...


Gay News

LaVine injured in Bulls' blowout loss to Golden State 2022-01-15
- The Chicago Bulls (27-13) haven't been together as an entire team in a while because of injuries and COVID-19 health protocols. According to The Chicago Tribune, the latest injury occurred roughly 3� minutes into the Jan. ...


Gay News

Blackhawks beat Canadiens; DeBrincat named to All-Star team 2022-01-14
- The Chicago Blackhawks (14-18-5) skated to their third consecutive win on Jan. 13, defeating the Montreal Canadiens (7-24-5) 3-2 in a game marked by a pre-event tribute to Andrew Shaw, who played for both teams. Dominik ...


Gay News

SPORTS Chicago Bulls lose to the Brooklyn Nets 2022-01-13
- One night after beating the Detroit Pistons by 46, the Chicago Bulls (27-12) lost to the Brooklyn Nets (26-14) 138-112 at the United Center on Jan. 12. The Nets have several superstars on the team, including ...


Gay News

SOCCER Three Red Stars join USWNT's January training camp 2022-01-12
- Three Chicago Red Stars will join the United States Women's National Team (USWNT) next week for the team's annual January training camp taking place Jan. 19-28. Defender Tierna Davidson, goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and forward Mallory Pugh ...


Gay News

Bulls win by 46; Blackhawks also prevail 2022-01-12
- The Chicago Bulls (27-11) got back on the winning track Jan. 11, routing the Detroit Pistons (9-31) 133-87 at the United Center. The Bulls only led 61-52 at the half. However, Chicago outscored Detroit 36-14 in ...


Gay News

SPORTS Chicago Red Stars see return of Yuki Nagasato 2022-01-11
- The Chicago Red Stars announced a trade with Racing Louisville FC that will see fan favorite Yuki Nagasato return to the club for the 2022 season. In exchange for Nagasato, the Red Stars are sending their ...


Gay News

SPORTS Bears fire Nagy and Pace 2022-01-10
- The Chicago Bears fired coach Matt Nagy and General Manager Ryan Pace on Jan. 10, ending his tenure after the team posted a 6-11 record this season, according to ESPN.com and ABC 7 Chicago. Nagy was ...


Gay News

Bears fall in season finale to Vikings; Bulls' win streak ends 2022-01-10
- —In what was possibly head coach Matt Nagy's last game with the Chicago Bears, the team fell to the Minnesota Vikings 31-17 on Jan. 9. It was a tale of two halves, as the Bears led 14-3 at halftime. The Bears ...


 



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






Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
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      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      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.