After a two-year stint as a copy editor in Milwaukee, I moved back to Chicago on New Year’s Eve 1999. My brother and I packed my studio apartment into a van, parked it in front of my mother’s house in the ‘burbs and dashed back downtown to watch the fireworks over Navy Pier to welcome in the new millennium.
For me, watching the light show over the lake seemed like a fitting way to start the new year and a new era. It was the 2000s, and I was coming home and leaving mainstream media behind — for the time being — to wade into the wonderful world of the independent press and life as Professional Lesbian.
I moved to Chicago to take a job as an editor at the Windy City Times, the city’s longest-running GLBTQ community weekly. At the time, the paper was still owned by Jeff McCourt, and we had a large office in River North.
Going to work for Windy City not only got me back to my hometown of Chicago, it gave me an incredibly low-key way to come out to people in my life I hadn’t gotten around to telling I was gay.
The conversations would go something like:
Them: So, Karen, where are you going to work in Chicago?
Me: The Windy City Times.
Them: I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it.
Me: It’s a gay paper.
Them: Oh…*eyes widen in realization.* Ohhhhhh.
I stayed with WCT for nearly a year and a half, through an ownership change (someday I’ll tell the story of how über bad-ass and co-founder Tracy Baim bought it back from Jeff ), a nearly complete staff turnover and many, many, many late nights of working (and drinking) in River North. I met some of my best friends in the world, and there are stories and in-jokes from that time that we will always — I mean, always — find funny. (For instance, the 4 a.m. fight I had with the production staff who insisted on running a “Virginia is for Lovers” bumper sticker as the art for a story about gay marriage. No, boys. Just…No.)
I’ve left journalism a few times since leaving Windy City Times, and I’m incredibly grateful to be back in the industry as the editor and publisher of Rebellious.
I’m also grateful to find myself back in River North for the summer of 2017.
Rebellious Magazine has a brand-new coworking sponsorship with Coalition Impact, a space for mission-driven businesses. It feels good to come full circle in River North, and I can’t wait to see what the summer brings. We’ve got a few events coming up here, so I hope you’ll stay tuned for details.
If you’re free tomorrow, June 15, join us for a free day of coworking, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Coalition, 405 W. Superior. You can RSVP here.
Photo caption: The Windy City Times editorial staff ate so many meals at Club Lago that the owners and staff still remember all of us to this day, even if we don’t see them for years. If ever you can’t find me this summer, check there first. The old Windy City Times office building is in the background.
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Karen Hawkins is the Founder and Rebelle in Chief of Rebellious Magazine. She is a recovering mainstream media reporter and editor who wants to thank her former boss for naming the online magazine she's...
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