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Chicago-Based Startup Empowering Trans Workers To Seek Jobs In Tech: VIDEO

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Like many young Americans Angelica Ross joined the Navy in hopes of securing a path--and funding--for her college education. During her time in the service Ross was openly antagonized for her gender presentation. Back then, at 17, Ross was still living as a young man and had yet to begin the process of transitioning.

Speaking to Chicago magazine, Ross recounts a time when she falsely admitted to being gay after having her life threatened by fellow enlistees. She was forced into a dishonorable discharge with little means to support herself financially or her academic pursuits. Like many trans-identified people, Ross found it difficult to maintain consistent employment in the following years.

“Like many trans women of color, I was faced with the decision of doing sex work to pay for bills,” said Ross. “What I realized is that I could find an economy online. I taught myself how to build websites, retouch photos, and do graphic design, which led me to build my own company.”

TransTech Social Enterprises, Ross’s Chicago-based nonprofit organization, tackles many of the workplace barriers to entry that transpeople face by focusing on teaching digital skills.

“When you work online, nobody cares what you sound and look like,” Ross explained. “It’s about whether you can get the job done. That’s why [freelance work on the web] is a superfertile environment for us across industries, from writers to designers to coders. Trans people just haven’t been shown this path to independence.

Read Chicago magazine’s full interview with Angelica Ross here and listen to her tell her story of founding a tech startup to empower transgender people AFTER THE JUMP...

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Yahoo Livestreaming RuPaul’s Drag Race: Battle Of The Seasons From Chicago On Feb. 19 - VIDEO

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Yahoo Live is live streaming RuPaul’s Drag Race: Battle of the Seasons show from the House of Blues in Chicago on Feb. 19 at 10 p.m. CT reports out.com. Sharon Needles, Raja, Manila Luzon, Alaska "Thunderf***" 5000, Bendela Creme, Ivy Winters and Jinkx Monsoon are taking to the Blues’ stage to strut their stuff and participate in an epic, live Snatch Game for the ages as Michelle Visage hosts.

Past Yahoo Live concerts include the final show of Lady Gaga’s ArtRave tour from Paris and Imagine Dragon’s concert with Metric in Los Angeles at The Mayan.

Watch a teaser from 2014's Battle of the Seasons in Vancouver, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Mysterious Ice Chunks Crash Through Gay Man's Roof But Thankfully Miss His Prized Plaster Cast: VIDEO

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Put this one in the weird weather file.

John Connors returned to his Chicago home last week to find his cat Oscar terrified and a collection of bowling ball-sized ice chunks that had crashed through his roof.

ABC 7 reports:

Ice"If I had been here, I would have been killed," Connors said. 

His neighbor Doris Patiz was home at the time.

"I hear this terrible blast, I thought it was a gas explosion," Patiz said.

"I walked in and thought a bomb had exploded," Connors said. "I looked up and I could see the sky and planes." 

Connors says the ice chunks crashed through the roof with such force, they shattered the ceiling beams - barely missing his cat. Connors was so shocked when he saw the damage, he didn't notice the frigid, artic wind whipping through the gaping hole in his ceiling. 

"My chair was soaked with ice, just like, encrusted with ice and the rugs were soaked from the ice that had melted," Connors said. 

One chunk was found in his bedroom, about 20 feet away from his living room.

Thankfully, the ice chunks missed Connor's glass curio cabinet, which houses a certain famous phallic plaster cast by noted artist Cynthia Plaster Caster. The prized item was also humouroulsy (and unknowingly) featured prominently in the background of a local news interview. 

See for yourself, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Uber Driver Attempts To Sexually Assault Male Passenger In Chicago: VIDEO

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For the second time in the past month, a Chicago-area Uber driver has been accused of sexually assaulting a passenger. The Cook County State Attorney’s office has charged Adnan Nafasat with kidnapping and criminal sexual assault after trying to force himself onto a male passenger late last July. Nafasat allegedly instructed his passenger to sit in the front seat and began  to grope and kiss the man during the ride. 

Despite the man’s demands to be taken home, Nafasat refused, began to choke the man, and drove at speeds too quickly for him to attempt jumping from the vehicle. Nafasat eventually drove the man to an unfamiliar location in the south side of the city and exposed himself to the man, who again refused his advances. Nafasat finally acquiesced and took the man home.

The man managed to take a photograph of Nafasat that he later presented to police in addition to identifying the Uber driver in a subsequent police lineup.

“Our thoughts are with the victim of this horrible incident,” Uber representative  Jennifer Mullin said in a statement. “We immediately removed the driver from our platform upon learning of the allegations and have been assisting authorities with the investigation.”

Watch a news report on the assault, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Illinois Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner Appoints Anti-Gay Pastor James Meeks To State Education Board

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Anti-gay Illinois Republican Governor-elect Bruce Rauner has appointed religious leader and homophobic former Democratic senator James Meeks (right) to head of the state Board of Education, reports the Chicago Tribune.

MeeksMeeks, pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Chicago, endorsed Rauner for governor and backs the increased use of charter schools and vouchers as alternatives to traditional public education.

While Rauner has claimed that he had no social agenda, Meeks has been an active opponent of same-sex marriage in Illinois.

Last year, Equality Illinois, along with associated community members and elected officials, unveiled a giant banner Rauner, showcasing a 2013 statement that he would have vetoed the state’s new marriage equality bill had it come to his desk as governor.

In 2008, it was revealed that Barack Obama often sought out Meeks for "spiritual counsel."


Queer Folk Singer-Songwriter Dylan Wright Explores Connections Between Love And Violence In 'Iron Gates' - VIDEO

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Chicago-based queer singer/songwriter Dylan Wright has just dropped his debut album As A Ghost along with his first music video for the track “Iron Gates.”

WrightAs A Ghost is currently the most popular album in the gay category on Bandcamp and in the top 25 for the Chicago category.

Open and honest about his sexuality in his work, Dylan’s alt folk music will appeal to fans of Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine, Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake.

Check out some more music recommendations and watch the video for “Iron Gates” and listen to album track “Queen To Be,” AFTER THE JUMP...

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