All posts by thomasilalaole2019

Gender identity and drag performance: A personal video essay

By Thomas Ilalaole
Medill Reports

For each queer person, our experiences and identities are as different and unique as we are. And each of us has a story about how we came to be who we are.

Abby Parmelee, Maxine Herndon and I all discovered our gender identities through the power and art of drag performance.

In this video essay, we discuss how we stand in solidarity with each other, and also with the many others who encompass the LGBTQ+ community.

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Queer fashion makes its way into the mainstream fashion market

By Thomas Ilalaole
Medill Reports

On this episode of Medill Newsmakers we take a closer look at the phenomenon that is queer fashion. Queer Fashion is fashion that exists outside the binary of fashion – it is simply fluid. Throughout history queer fashion has always had a narrative and perspective that challenges gender norms and colors outside the lines.

What’s your fashion narrative and how does it influence your gender expression?

Photo at top: Stevie Boi NØIR” Fashion Show for Bahamas Fashion Week. (Vernique Henfield/Director of Public Relations & Social Media)

Transgender woman challenges South Africa to open a new conversation about LGBTQ+ discrimination

By Thomas Ilalaole
Medill Reports

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa

According to a recent government study,  three million South Africans present themselves in a gender-non-conforming way. But in the city of Johannesburg, the LGBTQ+ community continues to struggle for acceptance.

In South African society, stereotypes and expectations of masculinity are deeply ingrained, and identities that don’t exist on the binary—or sexualities that are anything other than straight—are not widely accepted. Although the South African constitution says “the state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, sexual orientation…” the LGBTQ+ community still faces prejudice.

Nicole Louw is a transgender female photographer, model and rugby player. She  grew up as a heterosexual, masculine man. She says as a transgender woman, she still has had relationships with gay men, as well as gay women. However, she says, heterosexual men and women still treat her differently. Continue reading

New mural at Roosevelt High School encourages students to release their inner artists

By Thomas Ilalaole
Medill Reports

With nearly 80 percent of U.S. schools facing funding issues, art is one of the first subjects to be cut in school curriculums, according to a survey by LIFEWTR and IPSOS. A program at Roosevelt High School is fighting that trend.

LIFEWTR has teamed up with Chicago Public Schools to fund the installation of art pieces by local artists including Merlot, CZR PRZ, Kane One, and Asend One. On Wednesday May 22, Kane One unveiled the third and final piece at Roosevelt this year, to show his support and inspire students to express themselves.

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Boystown will be walking on rainbows during Pride celebrations this summer

By Thomas Ilalaole
Medill Reports

On North Halsted street from Melrose to Bradley, crosswalks will be adorned with rainbow colors next month just in time for the neighborhood’s Pride celebration. The Northalsted Business Alliance has planned the rainbow walks as a symbol of the LGBTQ community and also hopes it will draw more tourists to Boystown.

Thirteen of the crosswalks will be painted the colors of the rainbow, and the walk on the corner of Halsted and Melrose — next to Howard Brown Health — will be painted pink, blue and white in dedication to the transgender community.

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Rowers in Skokie paddle in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community

By Thomas Ilalaole
Medill Reports

Chicago Rowing Union (CRU) prides itself on being one of the only LGBTQ+ inclusive rowing crews in the Midwest, and one of few in the world. Its mission is to provide a safe space for the sport of rowing for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.

CRU consists of a diverse group of men and women from varied backgrounds, age ranges and experience levels.

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Gender-neutral salon helps people express their identity through hairstyles, wild or otherwise

By Thomas Ilalaole
Medill Reports

Barbara & Barbara salon in Logan Square started off as a small shop in the back of an art gallery. But their idea to create a gender-neutral space — where LGBTQ+ people and others could come to express their personal style through their hair — caught on.

Now the salon has taken over the gallery and its dozen or more stylists help clients use their hair to express themselves. And the prices are set by the cut, not by gender.

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LGBTQ+ youths in Little Village find their voice on the air

By Thomas Ilalaole
Medill Reports

There are many stories in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, but some are only recently being spoken and heard. Through a program at Yollocalli Arts Reach, two LGBTQ+ students are telling their stories — and the stories of their community — on a weekly radio show.

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LGBTQ+ homeless youth take center stage

by Thomas Ilalaole
Medill Reports

In the basement of a Lutheran church in Lakeview is a mission of a different kind. One that brought Malia Santiago off of the streets and onto the stage.

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