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

Paxton Pride organizer didn't give up on hometown
by Joshua Irvine
2019-08-21

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


When the first hateful comments against Paxton's planned Pride parade appeared on the Ford County Record's Facebook page, organizer Tyger McClure had a new problem: talking his octogenarian father out of carrying a rifle at the celebration.

Paxton—about 110 miles south of Chicago—may seem like the sort of town where one has a better chance of banning dancing than hosting a Pride parade. Its 4,400 residents are overwhelmingly white. Carhartt and camo are perpetually in vogue, and Republican primaries decide elections. Less than a decade ago, a teenager was beaten within an inch of his life for being gay.

"Anybody that's different is harshly treated," McClure told Windy City Times, going on to describe racist and sexist behavior inherent to the town's culture.

And yet McClure—who has been openly gay since his early 20s— keeps coming back to Paxton. He'd visit every other weekend after he first moved to Chicago in the late '80s, and he moved back full-time in 2010 to care for his mother, who passed in 2011.

His family moved to the town in 1969, when McClure, the fourth of five kids, was four years old. He knew he was different by the time he was seven, though he didn't know he was gay yet. He also knew that there was no way he could talk about it to anybody.

The bullying started in high school, initially because McClure hit puberty late and looked it, but continued because of a rumor he was gay. McClure recalled an incident in his drivers' ed class where multiple male students groped him as part of their torment.

"There were many times I wish I'd been able to be raised in even Champaign-Urbana," McClure said.

McClure saw his first taste of a different life when he moved with a gay peer to Schaumburg in 1987. This "trial run" was his first exposure to the larger LGBTQ community; he found a job and his own place to live, and after a few months back in Paxton he moved to the city in 1988.

"I can't imagine what it's like for people who never left," McClure said.

A year later, he visited home with his partner at the time and came out to his family.

Well, almost all of his family: His mother told McClure he would never be able to talk to his father about it and, 30 years later, he never has.

And even in Chicago, McClure wasn't entirely comfortable. He recalled bringing female friends to work functions in the '90s, even though he had a partner, because of an "unwritten rule" within the company.

Things got better for McClure in Chicago as time went on; he settled in Edgewater, and went on to march and perform in Pride and the Gay Games. But Paxton was stuck in the same spot.

"It still seems like a community that wants to maintain some kind of 'Paxton purity,' unfortunately," McClure said.

This year, McClure decided to tackle Paxton purity.

Organizing began only 10 days before the June 30 parade, but the makings of the parade went back to a few years before McClure moved back to Paxton, when he partook in "guerilla gay bars" that would take over a straight bar for a night. He and his Chicago friends had considered for years bringing the idea to the small towns in which many of them had grown up.

McClure obtained a permit from the mayor's office, put the event on Facebook and bought supplies, including 150 handheld Pride flags his family helped him assemble—and one six-by-10-foot flag.

And, despite the hateful comments and an armed senior citizen, the date of the parade came.

More than 200 people ultimately marched; the Ford County Record described the community as "overwhelmingly supportive." McClure's lesbian niece carried the flag in the honor guard.

"This resonates a lot further than Paxton, Illinois," McClure said.

McClure said he was overwhelmed only twice: when the editor of the Ford County Record showed him the proofs for the next day's front page, with the Pride parade front and center; and when his dad showed up.

"It was something you wanna bottle up and just have with you," McClure said.

The giant flag now hangs in McClure's house, signed by the marchers. He's planning for a follow-up march next year, although he doesn't know how much longer he'll continue to live in Paxton. But he'll undoubtedly be back.

"It'll always be home, even if I'm physically living somewhere else," McClure said.


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

American Medical Ass'n adopts policies on LGBTQ health issues, racial pay equity 2019-11-19 - SAN DIEGO — The American Medical Association ( AMA ) gathered physician and medical student leaders from all corners of medicine at its ...


Gay News

State of LGBTQ Equality in nine Illinois cities detailed in HRC's index 2019-11-19 - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ...


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

Trevor Project raises $1.2M at L.A. gala 2019-11-18 - On Nov. 18, the Trevor Project—the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people—hosted its 2019 TrevorLIVE Los Angeles ...


Gay News

ALMA marks 30 years of activism by opening archives 2019-11-18 - The Association of Latinx Motivating Action ( ALMA ) celebrated its 30th anniversary Nov. 15 by opening its archives to the public 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

Leather community gives at GroceryLand 2019-11-18 - To commemorate Groceryland's 25th anniversary, as well as to kick off the the season of giving, the Chicago leather community worked at GroceryLand, ...


Gay News

HRC Foundation releases report on anti-trans violence 2019-11-18 - On Nov. 18, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation released "A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in the United States in ...


Gay News

Kahlo exhibition tickets on sale Dec. 10 2019-11-17 - The Cleve Carney Museum of Art ( CCMA ) and the McAninch Arts Center ( MAC ) at the College of DuPage ( ...


Gay News

Open house Dec. 7 at Wright Home and Studio 2019-11-17 - The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust will present a holiday open house at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, 951 Chicago Ave., Oak ...


 



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.