(Photo: Ron Huberman. The reason a neighborhood of other proud gay men woke up and sighed this morning, “So that really was you at Sidetrack.” Credit: alfiemartin.)
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As all of Boystown–and all of Chicago media, for that matter–already knows quite well, former Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) President Ron Huberman is a proud gay man. (It wasn’t exactly a secret in that gay-friendly Chicago North Side neighborhood considering how many times the phrase has been uttered, “Did you see Ron at Sidetrack last night?”)
Today, however, for the first time, that fact was reported in citywide media. In an interview with Huberman appearing in today’s Chicago Sun-Times, City Hall reporter Fran Spielman talks with Huberman about his sexuality and the unique perspective it gives him regarding matters of inclusion and fairness. From the article:
At 15, while attending Lyons Township High School, Huberman made a declaration that, at first, was difficult for his parents to accept: He’s gay.
“It’s always difficult for kids. It was difficult for my parents at first. But they’ve become very accepting and very supportive,” said Huberman, who lives with a partner who’s a friend from college. They reconnected four years ago.
“It has given me a great sensitivity for the need to be inclusive. If I didn’t grow up being part of a group that was viewed differently, I may not have that sensitivity. It makes me in tune to individuals, groups and others who are not fitting in and may need extra support.”
The article also addresses the potential for controversy surrounding a gay Chicago Public Schools CEO, as Huberman was just named by Chicago Mayor Daley after the mayor yanked him away from the Chicago Transit Authority presidency, and whether–or not–Huberman supports the idea for a gay city high school.
Of course, as any media strategist will tell you, any major article like this would only appear in a Saturday paper for one reason and one reason only: an attempt to soft-shoe or bury a story. My take is the Daley administration knew this information needed to get out there ASAP to help stave off that potential controversy but they didn’t exactly want a lot of people to notice.
Of course, if Huberman had come out publicly a long time ago, this wouldn’t be an issue right now. Go read and decide for yourself.
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Michael Thaddeus Doyle
I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.
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Let me finish. Huberman is not a DICK because he is gay. He is a dick because of the sh*t he pulled with hard-working CHA, CTA, and CPS employees. He has screwed many people who did not deserve it. At any rate, who cares if he’s gay or straight. I don’t base my opinions on ANYONE because of their gender, sexual preference, race, color, creed, blah blah blah. I treat everyone with the same amount of kindness I would want people to treat me with. That is until someone does me wrong. Then, I may dislike (or be angry with) the person who did me wrong, but it has NOTHING to do with gay/straight, male/female, white/black, Catholic/Buddhist/Lutheran…you get the point.
I think this is what Mike was pretty much trying to say. It’s not newsworthy because we should not be so judgmental. At this day and age, we need to see the forest for the trees. We are all trees, no matter how different, and they’re all beautiful. Am I making any sense?
I think you are. I’m not crazy about the way he managed CTA, though I don’t think he’s a dick. But I do think you are entitled to your opinion and you needn’t apologize for having it. I knew what you meant, anyhow. At the time of this article, I was surprised that it took an article for him to come out (though I expected some sort of statement once he got the CPS job.) It really shouldn’t be news. But it was newsworthy because of the reasons you noted in your comment–because people can be judgmental and it was likely someone would have brought it up and tried to say a gay man shouldn’t be leading a school system. Nice catch. You go, tree!
Even if he wasn’t gay, he’d still be a DICK.
Good for him. Too bad it has to be a topic of discussion.
I think it is great Huberman is now open and a respectable society member. It must be a huge monkey off of his back.
I can only hope that someday I will be as open as Huberman.
It is very hard to graduate to new plateaus as sometimes it hurts others and can effect job status.
Ron has succeeded to be a great example for myself so maybe I can maybe someday love openly with my partner .
This is exactly why the gay community as a whole can not progress forward. There is too much bickering over who is “proudly out” and who isn’t. The gay community should focus instead on combating the increasing rates of HIV and STD infection among gay men, and the bigotry and racism that exists strongly within the gay culture. All of this who is out and proud crap is just a waste of time.
Mike, I personally am a proud gay man. However, I take exception to you attacking Ron for not making a spectacle about it. The man is working to be known as a politician, not an activist, so why in the world would overplaying your hand at Sidetrack and throwing napkins around be in ANY way a declaration of how proud someone is? I came here from NYC, and personally, I find the entire sidetrack showtunes sing-alongs juvenile and embarrassing for the majority of the people there. Yes I can assure you, not a single one of them can question my commitment to equal rights or steadfast pride in your identity. However, I do not ONLY read gay papers, ONLY have gay friends, ONLY attend gay venues, and ONLY talk about gay topics. I have a little more to offer than that. Ron H. is a career person, who happens to be gay, not a gay man who happens to have a career.
When I’m doing my job, I don’t say, “hey, let’s change the subject line of this fundraising email, and by the way, I am a straight man.” Why should Huberman be any different? It’s none of our business. Sure, people can speculate about a public figure, but that doesn’t obligate that public figure to share information about their personal life. A guy with a partner who hangs out at Sidetrack sounds pretty ‘out’ to me. Just because he didn’t announce it to the world doesn’t mean he was hiding anything. Sheesh. And to suggest that the city has a say in a newspaper’s editorial decisions is a little much. This was “buried” because, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that newsworthy. Also, CPS has plenty of out gay teachers, so I don’t see why Huberman at the helm would cause any controversy.
Leading local LGBT paper, the Windy City Times debates, Huberman’s coming out here.
Closeted Chicago mayors? Martin Kennelly?
i don’t believe that a degree of “out” has anything to do with a public story or how many or what type bars you frequent. to go even further…it’s not even how many pride parades you attend or weighing in (or the lack thereof) on “gay” issues. it does however become an issue when you become self-depricating (i.e. hypocritical) about issues that in whatever way will not only affect you as well as the communities that you find yourself associated. i don’t buy some gay website conspiracy. he’s been a wet dream for men and women alike for some time…and believe me if any of the gay journalists, bloggers, or random bitchy queen who frequent the strip wanted to “out” him this would have been news when he left CPD (even while he was there) to be chief of staff. FYI…the napkin throwing thing…think more of the theatre experience of Rocky Horror
If that’s the case it bears explaining. What do you mean “the gay websites forced him to come out of the closet”?
Mike, seriously, how can you call Huberman “a proud gay man” when he only admitted that he’s gay within the past few days? He’s been hiding it until now, known only to a few in the LGBT community and some bloggers and media types who heard the whispers for years. If he was truly “proud” of his gayness, he would not have hidden it until, ironically, the gay websites forced him to come out of the closet.
I just want to know where he buys his suits. Nice hands.
Thank you. You’ve explained it a lot better than Kevin did last night.
In a sense, there are degrees of outness: unofficial and official. Official happens when your sexuality becomes a major-media news story. That happened to Ron Huberman for the first time in the Sun-Times article on Saturday.
Let me try again. Ron Huberman came out a long time ago and it’s common knowledge even among those of us who have no idea why one would throw a napkin in the air during Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina. I was having this conversation with a gay friend last night as we were ignoring that football game. I think he agrees with you, but I still don’t get it. Out is out, right? Are there degrees of outness?
My friends would argue with you about that one, Mike. And if you call that a “grocery store”…
I dunno, Charles. I met you in the lobby grocery store, remember. I could definitely picture a “Clang, Clang, Clang” coming out of you given the right motivation.
There you go stereotyping again, Mike. You’re very good at it, by the way.
You won’t catch me throwing my napkin in the air, either. Then again, you’ll never find me at showtunes Sundays.
Sorry some us just don’t fit your definition of queer. We’re not trying to be stealthy or anything — just real.
Cheryl, are you referring to Koch or Huberman? On Koch, I agree.
Huberman is more one of our stealth queers, running just under the radar. Sure, they’ll go to showtunes Sundays at Sidetrack. But when everyone else is throwing their napkins in the air during Don’t Cry for Me Argentina? Hands. At. Sides.
I’m a straight woman with a dumb question. How far out does he have to be? I don’t think anyone is shocked by this revelation, anyone who knows who he is knows he’s gay. That would be my guess anyway.
I wonder who were the closeted Chicago mayors. You know, like New York City’s Ed Koch? He’s pretty open about his sexuality now, too, but back in the 1980s, NYC media all knew but wouldn’t report it.
In other words, Chicago is one step closer to having its first openly gay mayor.