I was looking for apartments last weekend (Is it “last weekend” already? I meant to write this post about 3 days ago!) with my roommate, whom I met in person for the first time. We met up near the Belmont stop, in the heart of Lakeview.
Side note: I found a roommate!! She’s moving to the city from Detroit, she’s queer like me, and we both have a thing for DIY projects and home renos. She was every bit as awesome in person as she seemed on paper. I’m very excited. (Is it a risk rooming with someone I met online? Certainly. But people do it all the time, and I’m being careful. It feels sort of like college all over again!)
Side note to the side note: The most awesome part of Saturday was sitting at Giordanos together and giggling to each other over how cute our waitress was. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming!
OK. So there we were in Lakeview, with all the rainbow flags and other such gay paraphernalia left over from Pride weekend or maybe that’s just how they decorate in Lakeview (I couldn’t tell, but either way it was fabulous), and that’s when It Started Getting Better.
We discussed how big a rainbow flag we should hang up from our place when my parents come to visit, how we should really try hard to find an apartment in Andersonville or maybe near the Center on Halsted, and how awesome it would be to convince a landlord to give us 50% off rent if we agreed to DIY one renovation per month to the apartment. Install new flooring? We’ve got this! Create a YouTube channel out of it, aim it at a lesbian audience, and we’ll have dates for life…
Anyway, we haven’t found our apartment yet, but between weekend hunting and me going every day after work to look at more properties, I know the right one is about to be discovered.
When I got home, I was telling my mom all about the hilariously bad apartments we looked at, the terrible state of the rental market right now and how great my roommate was. “We went to Giordanos for dinner,” I told her. “Remember the one you came to with Mark and me? When we all met in the city for dinner?”
She made a face. “Yeah, the one in Boystown?”
“It’s not in Boystown, Mom.”
“Yes, it was!” Her voice rose to a frantic pitch. “I know Boystown when I see it!”
To be fair, this Giordanos is only a few blocks west of the hazy outline that defines the “Boystown” region on a map, but it was west of the red line, and Boystown is to the east. Everyone knows that.
But what she meant to say was, “Boystown is the only place gay people should be allowed to gay on each other in the streets!” Since she saw 2 men walking down the street (holding hands, or possibly kissing, I very much doubt having public sex, but she didn’t specify), then it must be Boystown.
It was about a year ago when we met for dinner there. Mark and I were in the car when Mom had called me in panic. “Jenny, I think we’re going to have to go to a different restaurant. We can’t find a parking spot.” She lowered her voice. “And this is a sketchy neighborhood. There are gays here. I need to watch your brother like a hawk.”
Can we unpack this statement? Besides the cute suburban attitude about parking (there’s no parking lot, therefore no parking), I laughed my ass off about their assessment of the neighborhood. Lakeview? Sketchy? LOL!
But apparently the presence of gay people makes a neighborhood unsafe.
Apparently you need to hide your kids, hide your wife because gays like to prey on children.
I mean, she said it like a gay couple was going to come along and kidnap my 14-year-old brother in plain daylight, right in front of my parents – and if my mom blinked for one second he might be gone, snapped up by the gays. (Or was she more afraid my brother was going to see 2 men kissing and get ideas? We’ll never know.)
They had finally managed to find a parking spot at the end of a street, where they could pull in behind another car. Once in the restaurant, they continued to act nervous and creeped out. This is a thing. Narrow-minded Republicans get genuinely creeped out by gay people. (I’m trying to wrap my head around this. Really.)
After that, the Giordanos on Belmont was forever branded “that restaurant in Boystown.” My mom has found a way to bring it up several times since then. Suddenly it has nothing to do with the pizza, because it’s all about the gays. As in, I’m gay driving to the gay restaurant so I can gay eat my gay pizza. Can someone make that into a t-shirt please?
So we sat there at the kitchen table, my mom and me, rehashing the contents of a one-year ago dinner. She can’t let it go.
What I wanted to say was, “Are you done being a homophobe now? Can we move on?” but instead I just stared at her, unblinking, and changed the subject. She knows I’m offended by her attitude, at least. It’s only a matter of time before the questions start rolling in.