by: Terrence Chappell
Since the publishing of my open letter to the LGBT community on race relations in Boystown, there have been some intriguing takes on the matter. Readers have thanked me for coming forward about my personal experiences. Other readers have shunned the matter and my experience as just another nondescript problem, while others have inferred notions and conclusions that weren’t even included in my open letter. However, above all, readers are discussing the letter among those who agree and disagree, which is the only way a topic such as race relations will take legs.
I want to address certain trending comments and topics by made by readers about my letter. The issue of higher crime rates in Lakeview (the neighborhood that Boystown is located) and those rates being correlated with African American youth who hang out in the area. I don’t agree with any criminal activity of the sort no matter whom it’s coming from and who is the victim of such activity. I can’t stand loitering myself and do feel that everyone should be having somewhere to go at the time. But I can’t help to ask those same readers who brought up criminal activity and African American youth of what does this have to do with me and my personal experiences in Boystown? I don’t loiter. When I go to Boystown, I’m usually either covering an event, attending a charity meeting, or even just meeting up with friends for a cocktail, So, to bring up such a topic that is completely not related to my personal experiences is grouping a whole community of people into one, which is quite questionable.
Another topic among readers is sexual attraction based on race in the LGBT community. Certain readers have expressed the notion that it’s not racist if certain minority or non-minority groups aren’t attracted to you. Once again, I’m not sure where or how those readers inferred such a topic since I never even touched on sexual attraction and race in the LGBT community – or how it even relates back to my open letter. However, I will address the issue, since it is pertinent. Personally, my dating life truly reflects the United Nations. I’ve never had an issue navigating the dating scene with men who are from varying races, ethnicities, and, nationalities. I was raised around an array of people from varying everything, and I still maintain a heterogeneous social circle, which perhaps points to why my dating life is across the board. People are attracted to whoever they are attracted to, but if you are discriminating your dating life based on race, I do challenge you to think past the surface and think why that is the case; and those goes for both minorities and non-minorities.
I don’t hate Boystown. I support a lot of the businesses, professionals, and organizations that are centered in Boystown. I’ve volunteered and raised money for Equality Illinois and Center on Halsted. I’ve promoted, covered, and shared with listeners on my weekly radio show on 89.5fm about events going on at Minibar and other neighboring places. My problem is with the few backwoods, small-minded people who have verbalized and carried out hate such as racism. I don’t navigate through the world thinking, “Oh my God, I’m this gay, black man in a white dominated world.” I wasn’t bred in such a way and if I was I’d probably die of a heart attack by the time I’m 30. But when certain heated questionable circumstances and/or comments occur that are very race heavy, it does trigger one to think about their label at the time. The mere fact that racist, hateful behavior and comments have happened more than once warrants a discussion, since the LGBT community is suppose to be a welcoming one.
I didn’t write the open letter with or for a specific audience and demographic in mind. I didn’t write the open letter for LGBT members of color. I didn’t write the open letter for non-minority LGBT members or any other community for that matter nor do I speak on behalf of all LGBT minorities. I wrote the open letter for myself.