Youth swim team encounters transgender pageant at YMCA

BY admin

December 21 2004 1:00 AM ET

A group of youths arriving for an early-morning swim meet in Chicago on Sunday walked into a gender-bending scene of the kind most of them wouldn't be allowed to watch on TV, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Several of the kids' angry parents clashed with participants in a transgender fashion show, which had been under way at the New City YMCA since about midnight, resulting in a chaotic melee that was eventually broken up by private security guards and East Chicago District police.

A YMCA member had reserved the entire facility on the famously gay Halsted Street from 11 p.m. Saturday through 8 a.m. Sunday for a fashion show and ball, which featured cross-dressing and transgender models, the Sun-Times reported. But the facility had also been booked to host the youth swim meet, scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. Sunday. When the swimmers--mostly elementary and junior high school-age kids--and their parents started showing up shortly after 6 a.m., many of the parents were upset to see the "House of Escada" fashion show and dance in full swing. "It was like they didn't want the kids to see the gay people at all," said Kashma Avery in a recorded interview provided by WBBM-AM. Avery was in charge of a 13-member security detail for the ball, which he said was attended by about 400 people, most of them gay men.

According to the Sun-Times, New City staff closed off access to bathrooms and locker rooms, barring the "House of Escada" participants from continuing to use the facility. At that point, party guests and parents began confronting each other in the building's hallways and lobby. "Some of the guests started hearing sexist slurs," said Avery, "and an altercation ensued."

A chair was thrown, and when a witness mistakenly reported hearing shots fired, police were called to the scene. The scuffle was quickly broken up, and police said no arrests were made. A spokesman for the YMCA told the Sun-Times, "The YMCA regrets any confusion or concern caused to our members by this scheduling conflict." He added that New City, which does not typically schedule overnight events, will undertake a comprehensive review of its rental and scheduling policies.

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