Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-07-23
Download Issue
  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

Obama's order bans anti-LGBT bias for federal, contractors Obama's order bans anti-LGBT bias for federal, contractors
President Obama has signed an executive order prohibiting contractors who do business ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times    Download PDF Issue

James Baptist: Gay businessman is former Bradley basketball star
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2013-06-26

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

James Baptist. Photo by Ross Forman


James Baptist is an esoteric, self-employed, multifaceted, multi-dimensional, Chicago businessman, best known for his height and hoops.

Baptist, 39, is a South side native now living in Rogers Park who graduated from Whitney Young High School and then Bradley University—starring on the basketball teams at both schools.

He was 5-foot-5 in fourth-grade, reached 6-foot-6 in eighth-grade and stopped growing as a college freshman—at 7-foot-2.

"I was one of those kids who grew very quickly and always was taller than most," he said.

Born in South Shore, Baptist grew up in Chicago's Roseland and Beverly neighborhoods. He lived in a single-parent home with his mom as his parents divorced when he was 2. Baptist traveled by public transportation to Whitney Young, where he truly was both parts of the student-athlete tag. Sure, he played four years of varsity basketball, but, Baptist also was a gifted student and member of the school's prestigious academic decathlon team. He also sang in school, and still prides himself on his singing skills.

"I was more accomplished and known as a student than as a basketball player—until my junior year, when I truly developed my on-the-court skill. Then I really started playing more competitively," said Baptist, who graduated from high school in 1992 and was among Chicago's most sought-after high school players.

Bradley was not Baptist's first choice for college, and he claims, "I could have gone anywhere in the nation, because of my academics and my height." He even wrote to Georgetown's longtime coach, John Thompson, hoping to learn and improve within a style of play at Georgetown that often showcased tall players.

That, though, never materialized.

He landed at Bradley after receiving an academic and athletic scholarship. "I didn't know much about the school or the team; I just knew that the coaches were tenacious and persistent [in recruiting me]. Ultimately it wasn't the best place for me because they didn't play the type of basketball that was centered around the big man in the middle. Their game was running, geared to the guards, to the shooters," not the tall center.

Baptist was a redshirt freshman, then a three-year player at Bradley before graduating in 1996. His college career was alongside Anthony Parker, who went on to an NBA life from 1997-2012; and also Marcus Pollard, who played in the NFL from 1995-2008, mostly for the Indianapolis Colts.

"We were always coming up a little bit short, especially [against] our big rival, Illinois State University," said Baptist, who had his greatest collegiate glory as a senior, winning the Missouri Valley Conference championship.

"It was exciting to be a part of the Bradley legacy."

After leaving college, Baptist returned to the Chicago area and resumed working for Coca-Cola, a company he worked for while in high school. This time, he worked in marketing as a brand manager, promotional and marketing assistant. He traveled throughout the state with a Dodge Ram pickup truck and a large racing car trailer, which contained a gated, collapsible regulation basketball court for promotions.

"It was a fun job, a lot of fun," said Baptist, who eventually became a sales manager.

Baptist left Coca-Cola after a few years and moved to Donnelly Publishing, working in national advertising sales for about 10 years.

His business career later included a stint with Novartis, and then, in 2005, he was named the director of marketing for In The Paint Hoops which, naturally, was a basketball company. Also in 2005, Baptist started his first company (now dissolved), Hi Frequency Limited, which he called, "a diversity-first, philanthropic, events company that also did sports management, business development and marketing."

Baptist now works alongside former NBA player Craig Hodges, helping to develop Basketball Schools of America, which works to curb the violence among inner-city youth by reaching and teaching youth the fundamentals of basketball and off-the-court life skills, plus the importance of basic human values.

Coming out

Baptist said he dated girls exclusively while in college, and it wasn't until after graduating that he went to his first gay bar—Roscoe's—mostly because he heard it was a dance club, which is what he sought.

That first night at Roscoe's, Baptist met the man who, for the next six years, would be his boyfriend, though they lived in different cities.

In 1997, his mom asked him if he was gay.

"She noticed that there were individuals who were coming around the house who were flamboyant," Baptist said. "Being gay … that's only a small fragment of who I am. In fact, I don't signify [or classify] myself as anything, [including openly gay.]"

"My mom accepted me and has always shown me her support, and at times her approval, which is all that matters."

Baptist said he did not hear any anti-gay comments while at Bradley, and added that he doesn't think people will be surprised to learn he is gay, if they didn't know.

"I'm not doing this article because I'm gay; it's an article about my life—and my life is much more than just being a gay man," Baptist said.

Baptist was involved with organizers of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago. He also has marched in the Chicago Pride Parade multiple times, and played in the city's gay basketball league.

"I'm probably one of the most unique people in Chicago," Baptist said. "I am a 7-foot-2, African-American of mixed descent, gay, educated, and am a businessman who does a lot of philanthropic work.

"I'm not branded as gay; I don't brand myself as a gay person as I relate and associate on many levels with a multitude of types of people. I'm branded as James, 'Seven, 'Yo Giant' Baptist, a philanthropic business developer. I am a person who commands a presence, with knowledge about multiple topics due to my unique perception of life, making the most of life's opportunities, learning through every experience and developing networking abilities afforded from being a giant with integrity."

More James Baptist:

—Was born Feb. 16, 1974

—Was recruited to play for DePaul University while in eighth-grade, "but I didn't develop my basketball skills until I was in high school."

—Started driving at age 5 while living in the South, and drove solo by age 9.

—About his dad: "He loved me unconditionally and bragged about me a lot."

—His uncle, Levi Cobb, was a standout basketball player who played at the University of Illinois in the mid-1970s. "I idolized my uncle and my whole family, because there are so many [family members] who made me who I am today."

—He worked at the now-closed Cocktail Bar as a security guard in 1997, although he was not out at the time. Baptist later worked security at Sidetrack and Big Chicks as well as downtown bars. He also was a bar host and service manager.

—He is now single and has been for almost two years. "I'm very happy," he said.

—His latest business venture is, The Giant Painter ( www.thegiantpainter.com ), which offers commercial and residential interior painting and property maintenance throughout Chicago.


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.

Sam accepts Arthur Ashe Award at ESPYs 2014-07-23
John D'Emilio: Renowned professor, historian retires 2014-07-22
Meiling Jin on growing up in China, celebrity, LGBT journalism 2014-07-22
Charlie Rice-Minoso: Building his own legacy locally 2014-07-19
Former Div. I college football player Thorson comes out 2014-07-18
Billie Jean King to speak at CFW annual luncheon 2014-07-17
Gay in the Life: Heidi J. Onion 2014-07-16
World news: Conchita Wurst models; Ian Thorpe comes out 2014-07-16
Climb cancelled, but charitable causes still win 2014-07-16
Sports open house July 19 2014-07-16
Chicagoan to continue triathlon journey at Gay Games 9 2014-07-15
Major League Baseball recognizing Glenn Burke's legacy 2014-07-15
History made, honored in annual Ride For AIDS Chicago 2014-07-13
2014 Gay/Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame inductees honored 2014-07-12
High profile expansion for Rony Tennenbaum Jewelry 2014-07-09
Gay in the Life: Dr. Jack Miller 2014-07-09
Gay team makes history; Laverne Cox tops world list 2014-07-08
Tim Emond returns for Ride for AIDS 2014-07-08
Chicago takes Miami, heads to conference championship 2014-07-06
Annual Ride For AIDS Chicago is July 12-13 2014-07-03
A Gay in the Life: Tony Breed 2014-07-02
CLLAW at Logan Square on July 25 2014-07-02
First-ever Pride 5K draws 400 runners 2014-06-30
Sports Hall of Fame July 11: Bean, Davis, Tuaolo, Fox 2014-06-30
2014 AIDS Run & Walk Chicago to raise funds for 31 groups 2014-06-30
PRIDE WEEKEND Proud to Run finds continued success 2014-06-30
Michael Sam talks sports memorabilia at sports show 2014-06-28
Humble Hearts provides limitless charity to Chicago 2014-06-25
Gay in the Life: Mark Sakalares 2014-06-25
New Pride race June 26 along lakefront 2014-06-25
Proud to Run on June 28 2014-06-25
From the field to the press box and loving it 2014-06-24
Triathlon junkie: Chicagoan has done 35 races in five years 2014-06-24
Nat'l sports hall of fame names newest inductees 2014-06-24
'OUT at Wrigley 2014' to take place July 12 2014-06-24
Australian teams commit to ending homophobia 2014-06-24
Hudson Taylor: LGBT ally in Russia and beyond 2014-06-24
First-ever LGBT sports cruise to set sail in October 2014-06-24
Ty Pennington at Disco Dash June 26 2014-06-24
Clay-court tennis tourney July 12-13 2014-06-24





Copyright © 2014 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.

 

 

 



 

John D'Emilio: Renowned professor, historian retires
 
Knight at the Movies: And So It Goes; film notes
 
Chicago Theatre Week expands in 2015
 
The Dinner Party holds Taste of Chicago special
 
Tony Tripoli tag-teams with The Cabaret Project
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now



  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



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      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
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.