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 2015-11-25
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



The Crib creates safe haven for LGBTQ youth
LGBTQ Youth Series from Windy City Times
by Erica Demarest, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

At 8:15 p.m. on a chilly Tuesday in late October, about a dozen young people gather in the Lakeview Lutheran Church parking lot. They joke and smoke cigarettes and hop from foot-to-foot, rubbing their hands together for warmth.

When volunteers open the church's side door at 8:30 p.m., the crowd has swelled to at least 30 people. One-by-one, youth file into a hallway, scribble their names on scraps of paper and drop the slips into a white plastic bucket.

For the next 15 minutes, these young people will await a lottery to determine who can spend the night at The Crib, The Night Ministry's LGBTQ-affirming shelter for 18 to 24 year olds. It has 20 beds.

"We originally tried to make it first-come, first served, but we ran into a problem really early on," coordinator Nate Metrick explains. "In the first couple weeks, there would be 25 or 30 people trying to get in at the same moment. They would wait across the street at the police station and then run across at 8:30, when we start admission. People would run in between cars; someone jumped over a car once. It's really impossible to tell who's first when 25 people show up at once.

"We tried to figure out what's fairest, and there really is no fair option," Metrick deadpans. "What we settled on is a lottery process."

If fewer than 20 people arrive by 8:45 p.m., each attendee is admitted. Tonight, there are nearly twice as many youth as there are beds.

Some young people sit and wring their hands, rocking slightly. Others pace, visibly nervous. Still others dance, laugh or play cards.

As a volunteer slowly pulls names from the bucket and checks them off a master sign-in sheet, several young people crowd around her, peering over her shoulder.

When the last name is called, some stomp and curse. One woman asks those who can couch-surf to give up their spots. And several young people willingly abdicate their beds—opting to spend the night with a significant other who didn't make the cut.

Those who aren't chosen are given a $2.50 bus card, but several youth say they don't have anywhere else to go.

"It's kind of hard because you have to sleep on the street," Logan, 24, says. "You have to go other places. You have to figure out what your next step is. If there were more spaces here, then it wouldn't be so hard to have a lottery. I know some people who have slept, literally, behind dumpsters for the night when there wasn't a place here… No one should get turned away."

The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless estimates that in 2011-2012, there were 10,995 unaccompanied homeless youth in Chicago. During that same timeframe, the group counted just 266 youth shelter beds.

Additionally, many LGBT people report harassment and violence in shelters. When The Crib opened two years ago, it set out to provide a safe, homey and LGBTQ-affirming environment.

About 75 percent of youth at The Crib identify as LGBTQ, says Jessica Howe, a spokesperson for The Night Ministry. Thirty percent identify as transgender; and one-third of the staff say they're transgender or gender non-conforming.

"I've stayed at other places before, and it's not safe for people like us—LGBTQ, I, A, whatever," says Kael, 22, who works part-time and turns to The Crib when he can't stay with friends. "I've been attacked in a shelter. I've been sexually harassed in some shelters. Here, I feel a little safer. I'm with my own people."

When asked to describe The Crib, youth used words such as "fun" or "supportive."

"They treat us with mad respects," Diamond, 24, says. She compares a night at The Crib to a kiki—referencing the cult Scissor Sisters song.

"A kiki is a party for calming all your nerves," the lyrics say. "We're spilling tea and dishing just desserts one may deserve. And though the sun is rising, few may choose to leave, so shade that lid and we'll all bid adieu to your ennui."

At 9 p.m., the 20 youth who will sleep at The Crib begin "gratitudes," a nightly session where people give thanks and share positive news. Common themes include friendship, The Crib and God.

Over the next three hours, youth will eat a nutritious dinner, play loud music, dance, study for the GED and paint each other's nails. Yoga classes, HIV/STI testing, massage and chiropractic sessions are offered several times a month, Howe says. And youth can always take showers and do laundry.

Plus, those who stay at The Crib can perform chores in exchange for one-day bus passes, and enroll in 2-month leadership training.

"I'm very grateful," says Don, 23, who attends school and has a job, but says day-to-day expenses make it tough to save for an apartment. He has a lot of friends at The Crib, but envisions a future where he has stable housing and comes back as a volunteer. Tonight, he says he would've slept on the Blue Line if he hadn't won a bed in the lottery.

"It's safer [than the Red Line]," he says. "Numerous times, I've fallen asleep there, and I've gotten robbed."

The Crib serves about 300 youth per year, with a monthly operating cost of $37,000, Howe says. This figure includes meals, safe shelter, recreational programming, case management and referrals for support services.

In the morning, young people are served a hearty breakfast, and everyone is out the door by 9 a.m.

Though the majority of youth interviewed said they were grateful for The Crib—citing how positive and safe it is compared to other shelters—many are concerned about the limited number of beds.

"It's sometimes scary," Patricia, 19, says. "The winter is one of our biggest fears. Last year, there was a blizzard, and it was horrible."

Generation Halsted is an eight-week series that seeks to capture youth voices not typically represented in Windy City Times and other media. The young people portrayed have many housing situations, gender identities and sexual orientations. The series looks primarily, but not exclusively, at Boystown, where an influx of young LGBTQ people has been a source of controversy. Windy City Times will continue to explore the issues raised here beyond this series.

Next week: Learn more about Lakeview youth programs as we profile two local organizations: Center on Halsted and the Chicagoland Community Church (C3).

More on or click the "YOUTH" tab at .

facebook twitter pin it 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.


Legacy Wall Traveling LGBT History Exhibit part of Youth Summit 2015-11-25
Chicago sex ed gets makeover; youth launch 'Chicago Wears Condoms' campaign 2015-11-25
A'ville shopping; Hilarity Davenport's; Oy to the World; youth talk; Transfluent 2015-11-25
The Chicago Youth Worker Collective hosts 'Friendsgiving' 2015-11-23
Hundreds attend Sleep Out for youth homelessness visibility, fundraising 2015-11-22
Tiny Home Competition to launch in Chicago 2015-11-17
Safe Schools Alliance holds youth conference 2015-11-17
Speakers, performers announced for Sleep Out Nov. 20 2015-11-17
Tiny Homes Competition launches in Chicago 2015-11-17
ViiV Healthcare awards grants for HIV programs focused on MSM youth 2015-11-12
Report: Utah judge orders child removed from home of same-sex parents 2015-11-11
Sleep Out kick-off attracts top musical talent 2015-11-11
Task Force lauds Missouri students' courage, racial justice campaign 2015-11-10
Chicago homeless, advocates confront Ald. Cappleman 2015-11-10
Ka'Riel Gaiter talks new role at YEPP, social-justice activism 2015-11-10
Project Fierce celebrates new home at annual brunch 2015-11-09
Producer creates Exposure for Chicago's youth experiencing homelessness 2015-11-08
GUEST COLUMN: Sleeping out for youth 2015-11-04
Experts address homelessness among LGBT youth 2015-11-03
Upcoming: Trans Day of Remembrance; Alliance youth summit; Midwest Equality summit 2015-11-03
Youth, faith leaders, county commissioners call for funding for violence prevention 2015-11-03
HRC Foundation, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids join against LGBTQ teen substance abuse 2015-10-28
Northalsted Business Alliance's Ruby Red Relay to benefit AIDS Fdn, Out in Open Sleep Out 2015-10-28
Leadership of Black Youth Project 100 arrested at protest of police convention 2015-10-24
Black Youth Project Chicago to announce call for end to police violence 2015-10-21
Upcoming: Uyvari memorial; HBHC's Halloween; youth homelessness talk 2015-10-20
Launch party held for LGBT history book for kids 2015-10-19
Palatine school board segregates transgender student 2015-10-16
SAMHSA: Conversion therapy not appropriate for minors 2015-10-15
Millions confront bullying by to "going purple" on social media Oct. 15 2015-10-08
LGBT Student Safety Program piloted in LA school district 2015-10-07
Lambda Legal expands LGBT youth advocacy 2015-10-07
Talk on youth homelessness Oct. 27 at All Chicago 2015-10-07
Safe-schools group honors allies, advocates at homecoming 2015-10-07
Chicagoans 'Sleep Out' to fight youth homelessness 2015-10-07
Chicagoans to 'Sleep Out' to fight youth homelessness 2015-10-07
Report offers solutions in fighting school-to-prison pipeline 2015-10-06
All Chicago's Learning Center to discuss LGBTQ homelessness 2015-10-06
Lambda expands work for LGBT youth: Ingelhart joins Midwest Regional Office 2015-10-04
New online publication ProudYouth: For, by, and about youth 2015-10-01

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.








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.