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 2019-11-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Openly gay man runs for board at Winthrop Harbor
Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Joseph Erbentraut, Windy City Times
2011-03-30

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


When former Chicagoan Steven Bigden-Russell moved to Illinois' northernmost town, Winthrop Harbor, to pursue a teaching job some 12 years ago, he probably never anticipated entering local politics. Today, that's exactly where he finds himself—one of 14 candidates running for four open positions on the Winthrop Harbor District 1 School Board.

In such a crowded field, it might seem difficult for any candidate to set oneself apart from other challengers. But as an openly gay man, married with three children in a somewhat conservative Lake County town with a population of slightly more than 6,500, standing out—or "being the square peg in the round hole," as he put it—is something Bigden-Russell has grown somewhat accustomed to by now.

While he and many of his friends and family members were initially concerned his sexual orientation could be a point of concern for the town's voters, he recently told Windy City Times the district's financial challenges have, by and large, overshadowed his somewhat unique family structure. He said he is optimistic regarding his chances for success in the town's April 5 election.

"I didn't initially believe the community would accept me and here, for the most part, it is," Bigden-Russell said. "I think, in a way, because this is such a crisis moment for so many families here, my being an openly gay man has gone into the background, but I'm not sure it would be that way if everything else was perfect."

He said the voters' largest concerns are avoiding any further increases in taxes as well as avoiding cuts—such as bus service—within the school district. He added his reputation within the community as a well-liked teacher, currently leading a third-grade classroom, has also helped him gain support. For the most part, everyone either "already knows or doesn't care."

Bigden-Russell's experience as an educator wasn't always such an asset, however. He said that when he first began teaching, he remained in the closet, fearful that his sexual orientation may be discovered and potentially lead to his firing. However, when he and husband Bob, whom he began dating nearly 20 years ago, initiated the process to become adoptive parents and underwent required training sessions, he was convinced that leading an open life would set a better example for their future child.

"One of the things they taught is how kids look to their parents for cues on how to act and feel," he said. "And they said you have to always make sure that when your kids are around you, you hold your head up tall and proud and that was it. From that day forward, I talked more about Bob and about my family and it just was what it was."

Also, while there are few families quite like theirs in Winthrop Harbor, the Bigden-Russells have turned to Internet groups like Rainbow Families to connect with other gay and lesbian parents. During Steven's summers off from school, they frequently go on camping trips to meet with other gay and lesbian-led families in places like Saugatuck, Mich., or Provincetown, Mass. It is on a Colorado-bound road trip, going on two years ago, where they decided to stop over in Iowa and apply for a marriage license.

Through living their lives more openly, Bigden-Russell said he has watched as colleagues, both at school and in the school board race, have seen their somewhat negative opinions of LGBT peoples' lives change for the better. Most notably, he referenced his alliance of sorts forged with another board candidate, Misty Bestler. They've brought their campaigns together under the slogan "A win for our kids in Winthrop Harbor" and pledged to bring the board's focus back to the students in the district.

Although Bestler's politics tend to be more conservative, he said their ideologies for the district's priorities moving forward are largely the same. In the end, that commonality is far more important, he said.

"We've become very close over the last eight weeks," Bigden-Russell said. "She's told me that she didn't understand gay people before we started working together and she said the other day that she wondered if I was sent here to help change peoples' views and lives."

"I think we've changed peoples' perceptions of the gay community just by being us and who we are, by living our lives and showing them that we're regular people just like everyone else," he added.


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.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

461,000 LGBT people in Ohio are vulnerable to discrimination 2019-11-21 - Ohio's legal landscape and social climate put the state's 389,000 LGBT adults and 72,000 LGBT youth at risk of discrimination and harassment. The ...


Gay News

HRC Foundation releases 2019 Index rating cities on LGBTQ inclusion 2019-11-21 - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ...


Gay News

Lambda Legal Denounces the Advancement of Lawrence Van Dyke's nomination 2019-11-21 - WASHINGTON, D.C., November 21, 2019 — Following the Senate Judiciary's Committee's party line vote to advance the judicial nomination of Lawrence VanDyke to ...


Gay News

Pizer announces 12th District House run 2019-11-20 - Lake View realtor and developer Jonathan "Yoni" Pizer announced Nov. 20 that he would be running for the 12th District state representative's seat, ...


Gay News

Cook County Clerk's office celebrates marriage equality milestones 2019-11-20 - To commemorate the upcoming 15,000th marriage license for same-sex couples in Cook County—and the sixth anniversary of then Gov. Pat Quinn signing marriage ...


Gay News

State's first lady attends Equality Illinois event 2019-11-18 - On Nov. 17, Illinois' first lady made a historic appearance at an annual LGBTQ event. M.K. Pritzker was the star speaker at ...


Gay News

HRC plots course ahead at 2019 Chicago gala 2019-11-18 - Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood ( D-14 ) and actor Theo Germaine were among those headlining HRC's annual gala the ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Iowa judge dies, N.Y. items, Buttigieg's mixed news, RuPaul 2019-11-18 - One Iowa Executive Director Courtney Reyes released a statement mourning the passing of Chief Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark Cady, who passed away ...


Gay News

Jury renders $2.3M verdict for Planned Parenthood 2019-11-17 - A federal jury found an anti-abortion group led by activist David Daleiden caused substantial harm to Planned Parenthood by infiltrating abortion industry conferences ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2020 Kina Collins fundraiser highlights Transgender Awareness Week 2019-11-16 - Nov, 14, LGBTQ leaders and allies joined Kina Collins at the "LGBTQ+ All in for Kina!" party held at Cantina Laredo in downtown ...


 



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.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

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 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.