World AIDS Day, Allyship at Center of OUTreach LGBTQ Group’s First-Ever “HoliGay Party”

By John Frame, Class of 2017

By John Frame, Class of 2017

For the first time in the history of Chicago Booth, members of OUTreach, Booth’s LGBTQ student group, hosted a “HoliGay Party” at Bull and Bear in River North on Friday, December 2nd for vocal allies and friends.

Over 70 guests celebrated the end of the quarter and solidarity with the LGBTQ community, while also honoring of World AIDS Day (WAD). Guests were treated to handmade red ribbon pins (official symbol of WAD) signifying allegiance to those suffering around the world. With treatment options significantly improving the quality of life for those infected by the illness, HIV/AIDS still plagues communities around the world, with those in poverty most affected.

OUTreach member and lead organizer, Trisha Chakraborty (‘16), acknowledged the juxtaposition of the festive overtone and somber undertone of the event: “We are so thankful for our allies at Booth and recognize that not everyone is as fortunate as us--especially people who have the added burden of being affected by HIV/AIDS. It is with that lens that we raise awareness of and honor World AIDS Day by wearing red tonight.”

This was also a time for folks to relax, unwind, and build community. The event continued a realization of OUTreach’s vision that Booth become a community of open and proud allies of LGBTQ rights which are coming under attack.

Rugby Team Co-Captain and staunch LGBTQ ally, Julian Rowlands (’17), shared why he felt it was important for him and others to be active and vocal allies: “I want to see a world where people have the freedom to be themselves. Being a visible ally is my way of letting the LGBTQ community know that they have my unconditional support in their fight to win the same rights and protections as everyone else.”

The “HoliGay Party” was the culmination of a quarter filled with numerous LGBTQ awareness events spearheaded by OUTreach, from “Coming Out Stories” (in honor of National Coming Out Day) to an inter-MBA program workplace inclusivity pledge (organized in partnership with other top MBA programs around the country), as well as Diversity Day (in partnership with Booth Admissions), and numerous ally meetings.

As OUTreach looks to winter programming, students can expect a partnership with the Armed Forces Group and Graduate Business Council for the inaugural Mental Health Awareness Week and increased anticipation for OUTreach’s well-attended signature event, #PinkParty, happening in May among other events.

I want to see a world where people have the freedom to be themselves. Being a visible ally is my way of letting the LGBTQ community know that they have my unconditional support in their fight to win the same rights and protections as everyone else.
— Julian Rowlands ('17)

Outreach’s increased presence on campus has led to more partnerships across the Booth community. African-American MBA Association Co-Chair and vocal LGBTQ ally, Antoinette King (’17), attended the “HoliGay Party” and spoke of the need for her group to support the mission of OUTreach in order to break down divisions among marginalized groups.

“It’s especially important for me as a black woman to support the LGBTQ community here at Booth, a group so often stigmatized and discriminated against in social and professional settings even by groups that understand the pain of marginalization. I need to be a vocal proponent of breaking down the walls that divide us.”   

John wishes all of his classmates a happy, restful holiday break. Be safe.

[Carousel Gallery (pictured above): Active allies and members of OUTreach, Chicago Booth's LGBTQ student group, celebrate the holidays and honor World AIDS Day at Bull and Bear on Friday, December 2nd. ]

Allyship: It's Not Just for the Gays

By Rachel Chamberlain, Class of 2017

By Rachel Chamberlain, Class of 2017

If we haven’t met, I’m Rachel. About me: I’m a woman, a lesbian, more-poet-than-quant (yes, at Booth), a recovering ex-collegiate athlete — and I’m an ally.

Yep, you read that right. As a member of the LGBTQ community and a Co-Chair of the Booth OUTreach club, I hear the word “ally” thrown around a lot. Heck, I throw it around a lot myself: “Let’s have an allyship event,” “How do we communicate more effectively with our allies at Booth?” “Thanks for performing at Pink Party, you’re a great ally!"

One thing I often share with people is I’ve never met someone who wakes up in the morning and says, “Thank goodness I’m gay! It’s made my life so much easier.” (If you know someone, introduce us!) Regardless of an LGBT individual’s background — cultural values, how supportive their family is — it’s just frickin’ hard sometimes. And with strong allies, you don’t have to go it alone. Life gets a lot better.

However, what I didn’t consider prior to Booth is the notion that allyship isn’t just for the gays. Sure, we may have the loudest voice when it comes to using the word. But the truth is allyship extends far beyond joining forces against homophobia. Last week’s African-American MBA Association(AAMBAA)-organized “wear black” day is the perfect example. I loved this event because it provided a visible way to stand against excessive police force toward unarmed black men and women, and show support for the Black community.

But I have to confess something.

Over the summer as events related to the loss of Black lives continued, I felt compelled to step up — to show my support and engage in dialogue. And I completely froze. After all, I’m white. Like really white. Was it my place to speak up about this? Was I expert enough? Would it offend my black friends? Is it even OK for a white person to say black instead of African American?

What’s worse is I was accidentally added to this summer GroupMe (you know, that awkward moment when you don’t want to interrupt a thread with “so and so has left the group”?) that was primarily for black and Hispanic MBA’s. As a silent observer, I watched as students from across the country engaged in a dialogue about how to approach non-minority classmates; how to gain allies. It hit me: they were voicing all of the same concerns my OUTreach crew voices when we talk about allyship. Yet I didn’t reach out to them. I didn’t get outside of my comfort zone to say “Hey, let me lend a hand” — which I know from experience is sometimes all it takes to be an ally.

Rachel Chamberlain '17 (center) and members of OUTreach, Booth's LGBT+ student group, "wear black" to show allyship for African-Americans and other minorities in the Booth community and around the country.

Rachel Chamberlain '17 (center) and members of OUTreach, Booth's LGBT+ student group, "wear black" to show allyship for African-Americans and other minorities in the Booth community and around the country.

So what did I do? I reached out to exactly one black friend over the summer with a text about it, asking him how I could be supportive. (As if it was his job to know?!) Asking him if AAMBAA was organizing anything. (As if only AAMBAA could organize something?!) It was easy; it was comfortable — he replied with the requisite “Thanks for reaching out.” I had checked the box. I made myself feel better about it.

Shame on me for taking the easy road, and for talking myself out of engaging in a more substantive dialogue. I’d argue that as we get older, we increasingly talk ourselves out of allyship, whatever form that might take. When we’re younger, we rationalize less — we let our instincts dictate our actions. We sit at lunch with the kid who has a lisp; we show the new student to her classroom without giving it a second thought. Over time as we absorb social norms, we look to avoid conflict and “make nice”. We even justify our inaction: “Someone in my squad is black and we’re friends, so I’m covered.” “I have a gay uncle.” “I volunteered at the Special Olympics with my college sorority once.” It’s as if to say I’m in the clear, don’t look at me like I’m not supportive. We shield ourselves — but what we’re really doing is stepping back supporting from those we care about most.

At Booth, we’re in classes (and um...other places with frosty beverages) every day with future leaders from all over the globe. Future managers, politicians, CEO’s, board members. We’re doing each other — and the world around us — a disservice if we don’t get over ourselves and talk about this stuff.

So don’t just check the box — get uncomfortable. Stand for something. Have the hard conversation. Challenge someone. Stand with someone. Because together, we are so much stronger than we are apart.

Rachel is a proud ally of people of color. She has a question: What does allyship mean to you? Post a picture or message on social media with the tag #BoothAlly. Let’s keep this conversation going.

300 Booth Students Flock to Boystown for Annual LGBT #PinkParty

By John Frame, Class of 2017

By John Frame, Class of 2017

Over 300 Booth students of all backgrounds descended upon Sidetrack Video bar in Boystown, Chicago's LGBT neighborhood, on Saturday, May 21st, to celebrate #PinkParty, hosted by Booth OUTreach LGBT student group.

Students from the full and part-time program attended the event organized to celebrate diversity and LGBT allyship in the Booth community. The three-hour long event featured tons of pink swag, a variety of frosty beverages, and a drag show with performances from LGBT ally members of the rugby and soccer clubs.

Students from the full and part-time program attended the event organized to celebrate diversity and LGBT allyship in the Booth community.
Over 300 Chicago Booth students showed their support for the student drag performers at OUTreach's annual #PinkParty hosted at Sidetrack Video Bar in Boystown on Saturday night. 

Over 300 Chicago Booth students showed their support for the student drag performers at OUTreach's annual #PinkParty hosted at Sidetrack Video Bar in Boystown on Saturday night. 

#PinkParty was emceed by first-year students, Belen Bazano and Austin Fang, the latter of whom stole the show as “$hia Me$$”, wearing a long black wig and a flowered mini-dress. The drag show kicked off with a strip tease performed to Fifth Harmony's "Work from Home" and concluded with members of the audience in wigs participating in impromptu dance solos.

Throughout the hour-long performance, Fang and Bazano quizzed the audience on drag culture and handed out condoms and other fun prizes before winners were crowned. Sidetrack Video Bar, a long-time supporter of the #PinkParty, donated the club space and attendees flocked to nearby Mini Bar for the after-party.

Erik Underwood, a Co-Chair of OUTreach and main project leader for the event, complimented the support from the Sidetrack staff, “The management at Sidetrack was incredible. We’ve been hosting the party there for years, and the bartenders were excited to come back and have a blast with us. As a landmark LGBT bar in Boystown, Sidetrack is a great first exposure to LGBT nightlife for our straight allies.”  

Booth OUTreach co-chair and project leader, Erik Underwood (center), strikes a pose with his fellow co-chairs in front of the signature pink lips at OUTreach's annual #PinkParty at Sidetrack Video Bar in Boystown.

Booth OUTreach co-chair and project leader, Erik Underwood (center), strikes a pose with his fellow co-chairs in front of the signature pink lips at OUTreach's annual #PinkParty at Sidetrack Video Bar in Boystown.

Members of the Booth community paused to take professional photos in front of giant pink lips and let loose to dance tracks under a pink glow. The event was the culmination of OUTreach’s annual Pink Month, which was organized to show support for LGBT rights dating back to Nazi Germany when homosexuals were sent to concentration camps and branded with pink triangles. Following the Stonewall Riots in the late 1960s, Pink Month grew to be a staple of the Gay Rights Movement.

OUTreach Co-Chair, Francesco Schettino (’17), spearheaded the planning for Pink Month and expressed the history behind the month-long celebration, “The main focus of Pink Month is visibility--of LGBT people and allies. It gives people the opportunity to become an active part of the LGBT community. The drag show and deep presence in a historically gay neighborhood shows allies that there is nothing ‘scary’ about our community and, in fact, they too can be a part of it.”

The drag show and deep presence in a historically gay neighborhood shows allies that there is nothing ‘scary’ about our community and, in fact, they too can be a part of it.
— Francesco Schettino ('17), Booth OUTreach Co-Chair

#PinkParty had the largest turnout this year. Allies were all smiles before they head to internships and full-time jobs all over the world. “I came because I wanted to show my support for the LGBT community, have some fun, and experience something new,” said Garaudy Etienne (’17).  

I'm an LGBTQ Ally; You Should Be Too

By Geraldo Franco Gimenez, Class of 2017

By Geraldo Franco Gimenez, Class of 2017

I’m a proud member of OUTreach, Booth’s group of LGBTQ-identified students and allies. Sometimes people ask me why I’m a member since I’m straight. Well, it has been a great way to meet new people, make friends, and have fun – all of which are key to the MBA experience in my opinion. However, it’s much more than that actually. 

An ally is someone who is supportive of LGBTQ people. This can be a non-LGBTQ person who believes that sexuality and gender identity rights (like me), or LGBTQ-identified people who support one other (i.e., a lesbian who is an ally to the transgender community). I’m an ally because I believe that autonomy, freedom of choice, and primacy of judgement should be paramount in democratic societies. I believe that no right or opportunity – either civil rights or professional opportunities – should be conditioned by or limited to who someone is or how they live their personal lives. I believe that allies can not only help in the coming-out process, but also help others understand the importance of equality, fairness, acceptance, and mutual respect.

It doesn’t matter where we’re from or what we did before Booth, we each likely know LGBTQ people, even if they’re not “out”. More than that, we have definitely engaged in enriching discussions and group projects with our LGBTQ classmates here at Booth. So, wearing pink during the month of May, attending the Allyship meeting, celebrating at the #PinkParty in Boystown (May 21), participating in numerous events throughout next year, and engaging with and/or even joining OUTreach--these are all ways to show your solidarity as an ally. And it’ll be lots of fun along the way!

Members of OUTreach, Booth's LGBTQ student group, strike a pose at the Pink LPF. 

Members of OUTreach, Booth's LGBTQ student group, strike a pose at the Pink LPF. 

Looking back in history (for instance, the African-American Civil Rights Movement or the fight against the Holocaust), “allies” in a broad sense have been vital in helping minority groups overcome oppression and gain the fair treatment they deserve. People should have equal rights and opportunities – that’s not just about being fair and inclusive, it’s about being human.

I like to believe that all of my fellow classmates have come to Booth to make an impact on the world, leaving it better than we have found it. I know that we will keep seeking this goal long after our two years here at Booth. Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. We have so many opportunities to start doing so today. 

The Allyship meeting is two days away and #PinkParty is this weekend. Both events will be some of the most memorable moments for me here at Booth. I hope to see you all there.

OUTreach’s Allyship meeting: Wednesday, May 18th @ 11:45am, HC01 (lunch served). #PinkParty: Saturday, May 21 @ 8:00pm, Sidetrack Nightclub, Boystown, $25 through Booth Groups.
Geraldo, originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, is an advocate for human rights and civil liberties. He believes individuals can make a huge difference in the world through collaborative change.