Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-10-30
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Historic private club reinvents itself to be more inclusive
by John Stadelman

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

The Metropolitan Club, in the Willis Tower, provides networking, dining and work spaces as well as hosts private events for Chicago's business professionals. Last year it underwent a massive reinvention aimed at diversifying its membership, aimed especially at LGBTQ businesspeople.

"Reinvention" is the key word, because the Metropolitan did not just redesign the space.

"It really taps into the brand," said Craig Barnard-El, a membership director at the Metropolitan. "It's prioritizing the opportunity to protect the exclusivity of our club, while assuring that accessibility, diversity and open club membership reflects the community that we serve. As you can imagine, with the diversity of Chicago, the business community is not just one demographic. We have the LGBT community, the minority community, the immigrant community."

Their challenge has been to maintain exclusivity while extending membership to more communities.

"To be successful in creating a home for potential members," said Barnard-El, "we need to ensure that our programming, membership options, club environment, employees, staff and the events that we cultivate actually serve those communities."

One program the club put in place is the Pride Committee.

"It is a committee that prioritizes the wants, needs, programming, social and business interests of the LGBT community," said Barnard-El. "They have a once-a-month social meeting where the committee comes together and it's an opportunity for people to connect and talk and just be present to the experience of an LGBT person here at the club.

"And there's a steering committee within the Pride Committee, focused on, 'What is the agenda? What are the initiatives? What organizations are we looking to connect with? What diversity and inclusion departments have been open to us? What other pride committees and/or diversity programs can we invite here to the club from other companies? what organizations do we want to contribute to philanthropically?'"

For Bernard-El—who is gay and African-American—it is important and fulfilling work.

"It's been great," he told Windy City Times. "The support and the resources that have been given towards me and this department, specifically for the goal of accomplishing diversity and inclusion and tapping into the LGBT community, has been very rewarding. To have the support that I have, not just conceptually but also financially, is really great. There are real resources being put behind this initiative. And those resources are giving me the tools I need to make a real difference."

Speaking further on the Pride Committee, General Manager Simona Blaugh said, "It grew from three to four people having cocktails on the last Friday of every month to 20, 30, 40 people coming together. It includes people we describe as 'straight but not narrow,' who are supporters of the LGBTQ community who help support the Pride Committee, and everyone is welcome to participate. … It's a hugely robust group that got off the ground in 2018 and that's one of our biggest accomplishments and biggest successes of the year.

"No other club has a Pride Committee and no other club celebrates the LGBTQ community as strongly and purposefully as we do."

"The challenge is always going to be change," said Barnard-El. "When it comes to not only the physical change of the club but the material change of the membership and/or the culture, when you are doing certain things a certain way for maybe a generation, when you change that you're always going to shake up the experience and lose some legacy members. … Those challenges are present and something we deal with."

Despite these challenges, Blaugh said The Metropolitan is entirely dedicated to this bold new direction.

"I'm really so proud of our club, and everything that we've been able to achieve here," she said.

The easiest way to see what the Metropolitan is offering is to simply stop in for a visit.

"The best way of understanding club life and what the club represents," said Barnard-El, "is just coming to the club, attending a tour, getting one of our member-only events. We host other organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and the Loop Alliance.

"There's a number of non-member events that happen here, but just reaching out to a membership director, connecting with them and expressing interest."


facebook twitter pin it 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.


Gay News

Protest set for Deerfield Chick-fil-A 2019-11-10 - A group of suburban activists plan what they say will be a "family-friendly" protest on Nov. 14, the opening day of a new ...

Gay News

Pride Films and Plays' "The Christmas Foundling" cast announced 2019-11-08 - Cast announced for Pride Films and Plays production of Norman Allen's THE CHRISTMAS FOUNDLING, opening to the press on December 7 and playing ...

Gay News

Affordable Requirements Ordinance Dashboard is out 2019-11-07 - The Chicago Department of Housing unveiled a new, interactive, user-friendly tool—the Affordable Requirements Ordinance ( ARO ) Dashboard—to make affordable housing data more ...

Gay News

Val's halla Records to close by Nov. 30 2019-11-06 - Iconic Oak Park store Val's Halla Records will close by Nov. 30, The Chicago Tribune reported. The business has been open for 47 ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ Biz Boot Camp finale Nov. 12 2019-11-04 - The LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois will host the completion of its inaugural LGBTQ+ Biz Boot Camp cohort Tuesday, Nov. 12, 6-8 ...

Gay News

LGBT HISTORY MONTH Diaries reveal hidden worlds for museums 2019-10-30 - "Damn I'm going to be a gorgeous man," Lou Sullivan wrote 40 years ago in one of his personal diaries. Sullivan, who died ...

Gay News

WORLD Pride events, UK hate crime stats, lesbian Colombian politician 2019-10-29 - Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Taipei for the 17th annual pride parade, with organizers expecting a record turnout ...

Gay News

State treasurer commemorates LGBT History Month 2019-10-25 - Illinois state Treasurer Michael Frerichs marked LGBT History Month on Oct. 16 with a ceremony in the rotunda of the James R. Thompson ...

Gay News

Companies with LGBT-supportive policies outperform competition 2019-10-22 - Research by Shaun Pichler, chair and professor of management at Cal State Fullerton, has shown that companies with LGBT-supportive policies tend to outperform ...

Gay News

A Man of No Importance at Pride Films and Plays through Nov. 10 2019-10-22 - Pride Films and Plays will stage the first Chicago production in more than a decade of A Man of No Importance, the heartwarming ...


Copyright © 2019 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 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 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.