July 31st, 2011

andrew potter

Greetings from Boystown, Chicago

Boystown is the popular name of a district within Chicago, Illinois. Situated within the neighborhood of Lakeview, it was the first officially recognized gay village in the United States, as well as the cultural center of one of the largest lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) communities in the nation. Boystown has grown into a cultural center for the LGBT residents living within the Chicago metropolitan area.

The sector's informal boundaries are Grace Street to the north, Lake Michigan to the east, Diversey Parkway to the south, and Clark Street to the west. Boystown lies just south of the Wrigleyville area, another district within the Lakeview neighborhood. Boystown has carved a niche all its own within the urban fabric of Chicago proper. The Center on Halsted, an LGBT community center, is also located on Halsted Street.

Boystown is known for its colorful nightlife and inviting atmosphere. Bars in Boystown close at 3am weekdays and many are open until 5am on weekends. Boystown also consists of trendy fashion outlets, Chicago's "Off-Loop" theater district, historic architecture, wine boutiques, specialty restaurants, and shops, many of these businesses lying on Halsted, Belmont, Clark, and Broadway. The city's annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade runs from Belmont and Halsted north on Halsted Street, then south along Broadway down to Diversey, and then finally east on Diversey to Lincoln Park, along the lakefront.

Public transportation is provided by the Belmont and Addison stations on the Red Line, and by Brown Line as well as numerous bus routes and taxicabs.

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Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boystown,_Chicago  

In Chicago, Boystown covers a very large area. Its "main street" is of course, Halsted street from the corner of Halsted and Belmont north. There are innumerable bars lining both sides of the street, intermixed with gyms, shops, and stores catering to the gay community. There are bars appealing to the entire spectrum of tastes. Perhaps one of the most typical "gay bar" type is Roscoe's, on the corner of Roscoe and Hasted, and one of the largest and most popular (several different bars and a roof patio) is SideKicks. The Center on Halsted, the city's new, sprawling Gay Community Service Center, is on Halsted just past Addison.

On Broadway, also north of Belmont is Unabridged Books, which is a flagship independent bookstore serving the gay community for I don't know how many years, and kitty-corner from it is the Caribou Coffee Shop on the corner of Aldine and Halsted.

Boystown restaurants popular with the community include Ann Sathers, the Melrose, and Stella's.

Among popular restaurants in Boystown, the Chicago Diner, a landmark vegetarian restaurant on Halsted near Roscoe. A must-visit for vegetarians.

The Century Theater, at the corner of Clark and Diversey, regularly feature independent gay films.

There is a lot to see and do in Chicago's Boystown, with something for everyone. –Dorien Grey

Unabridged Books

Pride Parade, Boystown

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andrew potter

In Service by J.C. Natal

In Service is not a “pretty” or “cute” M/M romance, on the contrary it’s dark and dirty (Dark Roast Press is specialized in this type of stories); I’m sure it’s not the cup of tea for the average reader, but in more than 300 pages it is for sure an alternative reality plot that will find its fans among those readers who like almost epic novels. The alternative society described in the book is something that, in various degrees, I have already found in other novels: in a not so far future, the difference between high and low society increased so much that it almost went back to feudalism, when life servants were common practice. A man or a woman can choose to go into life service to pay their debts or to take care of their family, but if you are born from a servant you are a servant yourself, even if you didn’t choose that life. Plus, there is no age restriction, and so even underage children can go into service. In this modern and progressive society (yes, I’m sarcastic) it’s common practice when you reach your 25th birthday to receive a servant who will take care or your sexual needs.

Elias is nobility and he is also a spoiled brat; when he sees Jared, the 20 years old servant of another man, he doesn’t care what damage he will care, he pretends his gift to be that servant and no one else. Problem is that Jared was sold into service to pay for the damage he caused to a noble man and now the same noble man is going after Jared’s younger brother, since he couldn’t have his toy.

As I said, even if there is a blossoming romance between Elias and Jared, it is also peppered with obstacles and events that will involve violence, deaths and non consensual sex. The non con sex doesn’t happen between Elias and Jared, and when it happens, it’s not described, only related, but still I need to warn the most sensitive readers. Of course the first sex scenes between Elias and Jared are not out of love, but a service Jared is paying to Elias. It also serves to the author to highlight how much, sex scene by sex scene, the relationship is changing between Jared and Elias, and when we arrive to hear love words between them, they seem truer due to that.

Jared is not an easy character to like if you want for your heroes to be strong willed and independent, even if he will get better, at the beginning I had the feelings he was permanently mentally damaged; it’s like his mind stopped to evolve when he was 12 years old and sold into service. Love will help him, but indeed he lost 8 years and he needs time to recover those.


Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle