I don't know what you all were doing last Saturday at 3pm, but me? I was surrounded by hundreds of half-naked men wearing teeny little bikini briefs, drinking giant piña coladas and dancing to techno music.
That's right -- I headed back to my old hood, Boystown, for the annual Northalsted Street Days. I used to live right on Halsted, in the epicenter of Chicago's funnest neighborhood, directly over a vibrator store called Batteries Not Included. It was a fab place to live, to say the least. I never got hassled. Men stopped me on the street to let me know my tag was sticking out of my tank top and by the way, I had gorgeous shoulders. Everyone was accepted and tolerance filled the air like the smell of sugar escaping from a bakery. I was in my "transition" phase, immersed in the club scene and obsessed with wearing as little as possible without being arrested. During Gay Pride parade, I remember getting dolled up in a black spandex miniskirt, a tee-shirt that said "I'm With Dirk" (leftover from a Rollergirl Halloween costume), no bra and a leather dog collar with the word "BITCH" emblazoned in hot pink. Oh, and I wore my hair in pigtails. And drank from an open container on the street with my friend Trish. I remember almost the whole parade, up until the point a large topless woman with bumper stickers covering her two nipples (which had a chain dangling between them, natch) grabbed the two of us as if we were no more than rag dolls and kissed us. Photos were taken -- I don't know what happened to them or else they'd be posted here.
Needless to say, Chi-town's Northalsted Days are wonderful days, indeed. Everywhere I turned, people were happy and embracing. "Acceptance" was the word of the day... as it should be every day. Greek Gods abounded -- many of my compatriots looked like this. Sure, there were guys who weren't quite so hairless, or ripped, or were actually wearing khaki shorts over their undies. (Prudes!) But for the most part, men were near-naked. And I have to say, I have a bit of a new perspective on this whole naked-men-in-undies-thing.
One bar in particular seemed to be extremely popular, no doubt due to the tan, oiled-up, 12-pack-looking 18-year-olds behind the bar. They were just such obvious eye candy and I had to
wipe the drool from my chin wonder, "Don't they feel objectified?" It was like those girls who work the beer tubs in horrifically cheesy Spring Break bars. Just naked skin for everyone to stare at. I don't know why it surprised me so much -- anyone/thing can be objectified. I guess I'm just so used to women being the target that it stunned me a bit to see guys on the other end.
Then we passed a dunk tank with a guy in tightie whities and I saw things I'm not supposed to be seeing and I stopped thinking clearly.
What do you think? Were you at the festival with me? Or maybe you've been to a Gay Pride parade in your home town. Did the objectification surprise you or barely cause you to blink an eye? Join in on the conversation here or post below.
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