Out Of the Loop: Exploring Boystown through the Pink Party!

OUTreach co-chairs pose after the incredible performances

OUTreach co-chairs pose after the incredible performances

If the amazing gifs in the promotion emails were any indication, OUTreach’s #PinkParty was bound to be a fun-filled evening. This Saturday, over 300 Boothies from the Full-Time and Evening / Weekend program ventured out of the loop and descended upon Sidetrack Video bar in Boystown. After briefly selling out earlier in the week, Pink Party managed to find tickets for those who were having no success on the secondary market. The second wave sold out quickly too and people on the waitlist continued searching for last-minute tickets on GroupMe.

Row 1 (L to R) The LEAD queens pose for the cheering crowd; “Adele” croons for the crowd; Krissy Feetface ready to own the stage.  Row 2 (L to R) Tasha Fierce and Hay-Z ready to rock it; Winners of the Pink Party 2017 Crown; Rugby team celebrates a victory on the field, on the stage

Row 1 (L to R) The LEAD queens pose for the cheering crowd; “Adele” croons for the crowd; Krissy Feetface ready to own the stage.

Row 2 (L to R) Tasha Fierce and Hay-Z ready to rock it; Winners of the Pink Party 2017 Crown; Rugby team celebrates a victory on the field, on the stage

The evening featured tons of pink, a variety of frosty beverages (including Sidetracks’ slushies) and amazing, raucous drag performances! The emcees, Christine Groesbeck and Andrew Janiszewski (as his fuchsia-clad alter ego Alexa Playmusic), kicked off the evening by introducing Chicago Drag Queen Krissy Feetface, performing for the first time at Pink Party! Her stage shaking, fierce performance had the crowd screaming and applauding, and ready for the competition to follow.

The bar had been set. And the Boothies were ready to cheer on their classmates in the amateur drag competition. After a few words from the judges - Chris Collins, Associate Dean for Leadership Development, Jessica Jaggers, Senior Director Diversity Affairs & Student Life, Maria Ocasio, Director of Diversity Affairs and Thomas Winberry, Assistant Professor of Economics - the performances commenced. As one judge said, the crowd wanted the “queens to work it and kings to slay” and that they did.

Fresh from their win over Kellogg, the Booth rugby team made an appearance, trading out their short rugby shorts for shorter skirts and pink boas. Not to be outdone, the LEAD facilitators for 2017 stepped up with not just one queen on stage, but two! “Adele” represented the Evening / Weekend program and the audience joined her in her lip sync performance because she truly had “our hearts inside of her hand” as she crooned to Rolling in the Deep. And then Tasha Fierce stepped up with Hay-Z and as one of the folks up front, I can attest that we couldn’t hear the music over the screams of the crowd. However, it was the first ever Pink Party Drag King performance by the Cunning Linguists that stole the show, and the Pink Party 2017 crown, with their rolling, grinding and swagger, it was a (pun-intended) pants dropping performance.

The incredible entertainment aside, this evening was able to highlight and celebrate the diversity and LGBT allyship in the Booth community. This was step forward for Boothies who ventured out of The Loop, to a historically significant neighborhood in Chicago, and perhaps some, to a place outside their comfort zone.

Pink lights at Sidetrack Bar added to the evening’s festivities

Pink lights at Sidetrack Bar added to the evening’s festivities

For those hoping to explore Boystown more, a few recommendations from OUTreach co-chair Taylor Carson - “Wood is a great place to grab a bite. Hit DS Tequila for margaritas. Salsitas has THE BEST late night greasy, cheesy quesadillas. And if you want late night, sweaty dancing, Hydrate and Scarlet are great.”

One thing is for sure, looking back at that evening, we can definitely say, “Oh my Gaga, that was so good!” Major kudos to the OUTreach co-chairs who worked tirelessly to get this event together.

OUTreach, Armed Forces groups highlight mental health issues

By John Frame, Class of 2017

By John Frame, Class of 2017

In a recent study from the University of California at Berkeley, researchers found that roughly 67% of graduate students report feeling hopeless at least once annually and 54% experience depression. Mental health and wellness are not easy subjects to broach, even with our closest friends. Yet the consequences of remaining silent on such matters can be extremely harmful

On Wednesday, February 8th, the OUTreach LGBTQ and Armed Forces (AFG) student groups co-hosted a panel during Booth’s Health and Wellness Week titled, “Courage to Reach Out.” Moderated by OUTreach co-chair, Rachel Chamberlain (‘17), participants spoke candidly and bravely about their experiences with depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and general feelings of hopelessness to a crowd of Booth students and faculty.   

Katie Wurzbach (‘17), a veteran of the United States Army, shed light on veterans’ battles with PTSD: “You feel like you should be able to deal with it,” she said. “It’s so different for each person that it can be really hard to understand.” So many times popular opinion tells us that if you’re having a tough time, then you are not strong. But the panelists reminded us how important it is to resist those uninformed notions and to seek help.

Austin Fang (‘17), a member of the Graduate Business Council Executive Committee and an active member of OUTreach, reminded the audience that we cannot forget the marginalized communities who do not have the resources to cope with mental health issues. “Transgender populations have some of the highest levels of depression and suicide,” he said. “We have to remember that some people really need the extra support.” Fang also urged attendees to “have deeper conversations that go beyond the span of the morning Metra ride” with those that seem unwell.  

Katie Wurzbach and Rachel Chamberlain, class of 2017 leaders of the Armed Forces and OUTreach LGBTQ student groups. respectively, share the purpose of gathering to discuss mental health issues. 

Katie Wurzbach and Rachel Chamberlain, class of 2017 leaders of the Armed Forces and OUTreach LGBTQ student groups. respectively, share the purpose of gathering to discuss mental health issues. 

Wurzbach encouraged the audience to be forthright with asking tough questions of friends who seem ill: “Sometimes folks don't know how to share how they're feeling...I feel really thankful that I was taught to ask people if they’re having suicidal thoughts...it opens up the conversation.”

Depression and feelings of sadness can make it difficult to connect with coworkers and can negatively impact our professional outcomes. It’s important to understand the warning signs so that we can help ourselves and others. Students should recognize excessive weight gain or loss due to changes in eating habits, excessive lethargy, and irritability lasting longer than a couple of weeks as clear warning signs that it’s time to seek help. Thoughts of suicide should be taken seriously.

"If you can catch things early, you have a better chance of managing the symptoms than if you wait," shared Andrew Janiszewski (‘18), a dual member of both OUTreach and AFG. “Even if you don’t have any serious signs of clinical illness, counseling is a resource that can be valuable for everyone.”

As a first step, students should seek confidential support from Student Counseling Services, located at 5555 S Woodlawn Ave, in person (weekdays, 8:30am-5:00pm) or via phone at (773) 702-9800 (24 hours).

Additionally, if you are experiencing the Chicago winter blues, take some of the following measures to begin feeling better: get outside for a walk or run, create a regular workout schedule, invest in a sun lamp for those cloudy days, and be sure to reach out and talk with a close friend or family member. And remember: you are not alone.

John encourages Booth students and faculty to take care of each other during this winter season. Be well.