When you think of the Midwest, what comes to mind? Corn. Cattle. Farmers. Tractors. More corn. Soy, perhaps? No wait. Corn.
One thing you probably don’t associate with the Midwest is gay men. But did you know that the center of the country has one of the largest natural deposits of homosexuals in North America? It’s true!
And did you know that one of the largest gay meccas in the U.S. is Chicago? Did you also know that “gay mecca” is one of the funniest oxymorons ever? It’s all totally true!
Chicago was the first city in the country to have a municipally recognized gay neighborhood. It also is home to the Leather Archives, a museum solely devoted to chronicling the leather subscene of the gay community. And, of course, Chicago is home to one of the best gay beaches in the country…Hollywood.
Each summer, hundreds of men perch themselves along the sands of Hollywood Beach in order to show off their summertime bodies. From freshly shaved twinks to hairy daddies, the beach attracts all kinds. Although bathing suits are mandatory, a lot of men skirt the issue by wearing swimwear that more closely resembles an eyepatch than a pair of shorts.
There are all kinds of activities to do at Hollywood from drinking champagne to smoking cigarettes to swimming in the lake (watch out for discarded champagne bottles and cigarette butts). Plus, every gay man in the city is there, so it’s basically like going to an outdoor gay bar full of your friends, your frienemies and your enemies. This makes for some excellent lakefront drama.
Personally, I love Hollywood Beach. It reminds me of one of those bygone gay fixtures of the 1970s, a time when I wasn’t even alive but which I romanticize like crazy. There’s a sense of liberation, like we’re all sticking it to the man by sticking it to men. The skimpier the bathing suit, the more outstretched our middle fingers.
So if you find yourself in Chicago during the fleeting summertime and you want to check out one of the best local sites, head north to Hollywood Beach. Just remember to wear lots of sunscreen and not much else.