*Warning: crass statements to follow*
I’m home from CHICAGO but hopefully only for a spell and May 20th will equal my return to the city I want to call home. I love it there and my heart was just so excited to go back. When I stepped off the “L” onto the foreign streets, it just felt right, like these are the streets I need to walk and be home at for a spell.
I shadowed (which turned into more co-hosting) with an amazing host named Jean, like the pants. Our group was a group of college students from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They were a terrific group and led by their teach Phil, who was about 64 and dry as a rock but very nice once you got to know, but still difficult to read.
There are lots of stories to share and I want to capture them for you. I will just start with what Halloween Night looked like to me.
When I say butts and balls, I literally mean butts and balls, in the anatomical sense.
Our ministry site was street ministry in Boys Town. Boys Town is an area centered around Halstead Steet. It is an area that is made up of gay and lesbian communities. Prostitution, drugs, and unprotected sex rage this area. There is an awesome ministry near by called Emmaus which reaches out to male prostitutes and goes into the night life to meet and connect with these men. By walking with them and building trust, the men then are comfortable to seek help from Emmaus at their ministry and care center. Emmaus oriented us to the area and the needs of the people there. Many of the males prostituting and hustling are actually heterosexual males. They do it for the money. Most have alchohol or substance abuse problems to help them cope with the shame. The statistics are shocking and emotional and spiritual emptiness in this community is heavy.
We went out in pairs to connect and talk with the people on the streets. I of course got paired with the +60 year old man of the group. That added an element all of its own to the night. Good old Phil really wanted to try outreaching to the community by going into the bars and having a coke with them. So I said sure 🙂 The first bar we went to carded me so out we went. The second place let me right on in…and that’s when it happened
Butts and balls.
(reminder: partnered with older man)
We walk into this place to see a man in a thong dancing on the table. I first see his butt then he turns…well howdy dowdy there is not good place to turn in this bar. That mans job was to dance on the lit up table and do things like lunges and push ups and play with his sweet little self. Sick, sick, sick. I don’t think I like bars of such nature :-). There were 3 other boys who were “floor boys” they also wore man thongs but had on shoes and cowboy hats. They were there to make sure the customers were “happy” and taken care of. They would float around and dance and carress and sick fondle with the customers.
I would have been disgusted by this behavior between a male and female in this setting as well. I do not want anyone to think I am bashing them or making their behavior worse than other lude sexual acts.The emptiness in that bar was so sad! Many of them were enjoying themselves, but others looked so sad and empty and searching for something and someone to just care.
My partner and I just sat there (me pretending to watch TV) the little floor boy came and hit on him which was hilarious and we talked with him just for a moment. Then this 62 year old lady dressed as spider woman came and talked with Phil so I went and talked with her younger friends. I got to talk with them for about 20 minutes and laugh and connect with Daniel, spider lady, and feather lady. Spider lady even let me where her hat so I would have a costume. sweet huh.
Then we grabbed some din din at an Indian resteraunt and went to Starbucks. When Phil talked with someone I was able to offer three boys the extra chair at my table. They were surprised by my offer and it led to them allowing me to come sit and talk with them. The people here are so used to being shoved around and ignored by “outsiders” that the simple act of offering a chair and talking with them was appreciated and generated a response. They were really nice and open and taught me about the city. One of them made some reference to “Tina” which I learned is a drug reference. (don’t worry the other boy didn’t know this either). Then the boy talked a bit of his walk through drugs and didn’t open too many doors but I don’t think he is in them anymore, it sounded more like his mom and some experimented when he grew up in Detroit.
It was an emotionally sombering night. And it’s just the tip of the iceburg of pain and deception in this city.
More to come…