If you're a follower of this blog, you know I purposely keep things upbeat & funny. I write about television. I write about poop. I write about the people I've observed in my neighborhood - shopping, snooping, taking children to the liquor store at ten in the morning. I've written about the apocolypse twice, about nuns too old to play the organ, and about looking like William Shatner as I grow older. I've compared Uncle Phil to Shain Gandee from Buckwild, and I wrote three posts while attending IML. Fun stuff, I hope. And with no soapbox rants.
That being said, I need to vent - a little.
The town that I live in is very homophobic, and my experiences with neighbors, police, and now even my local grocery store have made me regret the fact that I presently live in Aurora, Illinois. And that's really a shame. I've been here since 2006. And until recently, I've genuinely loved my neighborhood.
Aurora has both old parts and new, working-class neighborhoods and upscale streets near Naperville, Batavia, and Oswego. Our demographics lean heavily towards Hispanics, with whites a close second, followed by other ethnicities. We're an American melting pot, but with an extra dash of chili powder.
Aurora has no gay-friendly churches, no openly-gay businesses, and definitely no gay social clubs. And it's not because such organizations haven't tried; they've opened - but we're soon forced to close. Aurora - like Putin - has made it clear that gays are not welcome.
When Jack posted this story on FaceBook later, I was stunned and disgusted - especially with Cermck management. Everyone was watching, but no employee intervened. If one customer verbally attacked another customer at my place of employment, every single coworker would come to that customer's defense. But the Cermak cashiers, stockboys, and managers all took the sideline - despite the African woman's pattern of assaulting customers. And I can't help but think this happened because the Cermak managers agreed with the shouting woman: We don't like gay people either. That's definitely what their actions said.
On that particular Gay Pride Sunday, there were thousands of gay Aurorians...many young, many my age, and all of whom were enjoying the one day of the year when The City of Lights couldn't hide its LGBT community. It was both exhilarating and sad - like watching unjustly incarcerated being freed from prison, and walking out of the courthouse without being hassled by angry reporters. I remember looking around and thinking, "Where the hell did all you people come from?" And on the ride to Chicago, I learned they were my neighbors - many from blocks near my home. There were just so many of us, and it's shameful that Aurora has yet to embrace that fact.
I wonder what the Zimbabwean lady from Cermak would say if she had been on the train next to me.
I definitely know what we would have said back.