Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-07-29
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


  WINDY CITY TIMES

'Beauty isn't everything, but it does take you a hell of a ways'
LGBTQ Youth Series from Windy City Times
by Erica Demarest, Windy City Times
2012-11-21

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


"She took me to the side, and said, girl, you need to wash up," Shena, 20, said with a laugh, as she recalled one of the first times she met her best friend Diamond.

Shena was about 15 or 16 years old. She had just relocated to Chicago from Kentucky "to get away from my family," and hadn't yet learned the ins-and-outs of maintaining her appearance on the streets.

"Just because you're going through a struggle doesn't mean you have to look like it," deadpanned Diamond, 29, a lifelong Lakeview resident whose current housing situation is unstable. "The thing is—You don't want to look homeless. You don't want to smell."

For many of the street-based youth in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, clothing and hygiene rank highly as survival tools.

Windy City Times found that a significant portion of youth interviewed have internalized stigmas and stereotypes about homelessness. As a result, many of these young people work especially hard to blend in.

"It is very important that we camouflage into our community," said Robert Dibbles, 25, who has been homeless or precariously housed since he came out of the closet as a teen. "I don't want to look like a stereotype bum. I'm not. I struggled. I've been through a lot in my life. But I want to look like I belong on the street with you."

Maintaining a positive perception can help youth avoid harassment or stigmatization, Dibbles explained.

"In the beginning, I was talked about," he said. "I smelled bad. I had on dirty clothes… I slept in parks… No one would hire me."

Today, Dibbles volunteers with several LGBT and homeless organizations and is taking steps to continue his education. He said a positive attitude and image were partly responsible for his success.

"If I'm off and I don't look cute, then my day is not cute," Dibbles said. "It's hard to get my mind right."

Building that image is often tricky, however, as many youth rely on local shelters, social service agencies and churches for clothing and toiletries.

The Chicagoland Community Church, Lakeview Pantry and StandUp for Kids—among others—offer free clothing, which is typically used and donated by community members. And the Broadway Youth Center (BYC) gives young people a $25 Brown Elephant voucher once a month.

"I wear whatever fits me and is practical," said Drakera, 20, a trans woman who lacks stable housing. "At the Brown Elephant, the stuff is still pretty expensive. And the stuff they have on sale doesn't really fit—either it's a couple sizes too small or it's been altered."

Drakera said she'd like to maintain a more curated style, but for now, is grateful for the donations.

When it comes to beauty, many young people rely on one another. The Youth Lounge at Broadway United Methodist has begun offering manicures and pedicures; the BYC regularly makes sheers and scissors available for haircuts. And it is not uncommon to see youth styling one another's hair or offering beauty advice.

"Beauty isn't everything, but it does take you a hell of a ways," said Destiny, 19, a trans woman who lives on the South Side but frequents Lakeview for its inclusivity. She credits the neighborhood's trans women for teaching her how to dress for her body type. And like Shena before her, Destiny is appreciative of her peers' honesty.

Many youth view it as their responsibility to look out for new arrivals, Dibbles said. And taking care of one's chosen family extends to matters of appearance.

"[If someone looks bad], I'm not going to tell her: Girl, you look ravishing; the boys are going to be all over you," Dibbles said. "No. They won't. Because they weren't all over me."

Several programs offer shampoo, deodorant and other toiletries. Showers are available at the Crib, the Night Ministry's LGBT-friendly shelter, which houses 20 youth per night (a daily lottery determines who will receive a bed for the evening). And when the Crib was closed this past summer, the Youth Lounge offered Sunday showers to fill the service gap.

Still, many young people rely on public restrooms to change clothes and wash up.

"I learned how to [get ready] quick," Diamond said. "If you take too long, you could have people watching you when you go in the bathroom and timing you, and then you can get banned…. I try to be courteous… You've got to know your pace. If it'll normally take you about 30 minutes to get ready, make it 15. If it's 15, cut that in half."

When Windy City Times asked Diamond how people would treat her if she didn't maintain her hygiene and appearance, she said: "I don't want to find out. They already treat me bad enough for not having a job."

Diamond continued: "They say cleanliness is next to godliness, but for me, cleanliness is next to sanity. If you feel clean, if you look good, you feel like, okay, I can conquer what I need to conquer. I can make it through another day… But if you're out here stanking, and people don't want to be around you, that will put you into a shell, where you just say, I really do want to kill myself."

Strangers take cues from each other's appearance, Shena said. "You've got to point people in the right direction."

Photo captions:

Colby Mowery runs the weekly Safe Haven dinner where he passes out clothing. Many Chicagoland Community Church members view homosexuality as a sin, but here, Mowery gives a feminine trans youth a dress and high heels. Photos by Bill Healy.

Many youth have expressed interest in creative careers, such as performing or hairdressing. Here, a young man shows off the hairstyle his friend has created for him. Photo by Erica Demarest.

Shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste are among the items available at the twice-monthly Youth Lounge at Broadway United Methodist Church. Volunteers donate toiletries and clothing. Photo by Kate Sosin.

Next week in Generation Halsted, an in-depth look at the Broadway United Methodist Church's innovative Youth Lounge. Photo essay: Overnight in Boystown. Watch what really happens.

For more Generation Youth look for WindyCityTimes on www.youtube.com/windycitytimes or www.vimeo.com/windycitytimes . Or click the "YOUTH" tab at www.WindyCityMediaGroup.com .


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

"Into the Lights" mixer to benefit The Crib 2015-07-29
Prologue Inc. holds first Freedom Fest 2015-07-19
Boy Scouts looks ahead to vote on gay leaders 2015-07-17
Cyndi Lauper's True Colors, Make A Difference Everyday help homeless LGBT 2015-07-17
Center launches youth/family directory 2015-07-15
Senate fails to pass the Student Non-Discrimination Act 2015-07-15
Ali Forney Center to break ground for Bea Arthur Residence 2015-07-15
2015 Action Camp, for gay-straight alliances, is its largest ever 2015-07-07
Chapin Hall launches 'Voices of Youth Count' 2015-07-01
Windy City Times hosts 30 Under 30 Awards 2015-06-25
Chapin Hall seeks national estimate, understanding of homeless youth 2015-06-25
City Treasurer hosts discussion on youth homeless issues 2015-06-24
16th annual 30 Under 30: Honoring the best 2015-06-24
Study: Social support networks important to LGBT youth adjustment 2015-06-23
LGBT council members promise citywide focus 2015-06-17
The Night Ministry hosts annual gala 2015-06-11
Study: LGBTQ overrepresented among youth experiencing homelessness 2015-06-10
Theater news: New ATC artistic director; High school theater award 2015-06-10
LUCHA holds housing fair for LGBTQ youth 2015-06-09
DHS Committee holds hearing on education czar's salary funding 2015-06-04
Sexual minority young adults at higher risk of suicide; prejudice contributes 2015-06-04
LGBT homelessness training; Bilingual trans history; Black lesbian history survey 2015-06-03
Law student receives fellowship to work on LGBTQ youth issues 2015-06-02
Over 700 asylum wins celebrated at Safe Haven Awards 2015-05-28
UK YouTube sensation Pop 'N' Olly launch LGBT videos for children 2015-05-22
Girl Scouts include transgender girls 2015-05-22
Illinois Legislative Black Caucus: Remember youth when drafting budget 2015-05-20
Homeless youth and reproductive justice 2015-05-20
Queer Prom marks 10th anniversary 2015-05-19
DIVERSIONS Shedd opens exhibit on amphibians 2015-05-19
Chicago Youth Storage Initiative issues report, recommendations 2015-05-19
Chicago Youth Storage Initiative issues report, recommendations 2015-05-19
Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act introduced to block conversion therapy 2015-05-19
At inauguration, Emanuel pledges future for Chicago's lost youth 2015-05-18
Feigenholtz commends scout for courageous stance on equality 2015-05-15
Teen Eagle Scout's projects focuses on LGBT community 2015-05-13
Trans student petitions for gender-neutral accommodations 2015-05-06
UIC holds ninth annual Lavender Graduation 2015-05-06
'Rainbow Train' on track to children's gender expression 2015-05-06
LGBTQ and Allies prom biggest one yet 2015-05-05
 



Copyright © 2015 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
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.