Thomas Lindsey Hooppaw & Jeffrey Tiritilli

Survey


Thomas Lindsey Hooppaw

City/state where you were born: Kankakee, IL

Name of partner, and date you first mark as getting together: Jeff R. Tiritilli met at the Lucky HorseShoe. 1996

City/state where you live currently: Chicago, IL
Education - schools, degrees/years: BA Journalism, minot Art, Olivet Nazarene University Class of 1990

Career(s) former and present: Pitney Bowes Mgt Srvs; line mgr at a smorgeshbord restaurant thru college; asst mgr Subway 4 years after college; New Editor Olivet Nazarene Univeristy's paper, Glimmerglass; freelance writer for Bourbonnais Herald.

How do you describe your sexual orientation and your gender? Gay Male

Do you have children and/or grandchildren? (How many of each?) 1 "adopted son", Alan Mora and his cat, Penny, our "granddaughter". I am the youngest of 3 siblings, an afterthought. [Alan died July 29, 2012.]

If you are GLBT, please describe when you first “knew.” Not sure, seems like I always knew, even when my sister got married in 1972 when I was 4 years old and I demanded a flower in my coat lapel and at home walked around with a bridesmaid's bouquet as if I was the bride.

Who did you first “come out” to (as GLBT or as an ally of GLBT people) and when? Please write a short narrative about your experience in coming out, whether one time or over many years. My first coming out was with a fellow ONU graduate the year after graduation who came out to me at the same time.

But then didn't really come out 90% completely until after moving to Chicago in 1995 and sent "wedding" invites to my immediate family. My mom said she already knew, and so did my dad, but neither told each other. My sister, nieces and brother said "It's about time".

What troubles did you face as a GLBT person (or an ally of GLBT people)? Describe any incidents in school, at home, at work, in the community, etc. I guess I was one of the lucky ones. No real troubles at all, except my dad refused at first to come to the "wedding", until he realized I was happy. It's odd, everyone seems to like me regardless of being gay, or maybe it's because I'm gay, I don't know....

Did you have mentors in the Chicago GLBT community? Did you have role models, even if not from Chicago? if so, who are/were they? Even as a young child, I was flamboyant, and thought Liberace was everything. I know, too cliche. But now Honey West and Miss Foozie in Chicago seem to be ones to emulate. They care and love and are outgoing, standing firm for our rights as equal citizens. Looking back, Harvey Milk has become an inspiration too. Never give in. Also Ellen DeGeneres for breaking the mold by coming out publically, openening the door for a slew of start to come out. And my heros are also those youth who are still being persecuted and not giving up.

List organizations (GLBT or mainstream) you have been involved in. (Please specify founder, board member, volunteer, donor, etc.) been a supporter of Equality Illinois....and vast petition signer for other Care organizations as well.



When you were coming out, what were your favorite Chicago GLBT bars, and in what years? Lucky Horseshoe & Gentry. 1995-97 when Sophie still ran the Shoe and beyond. Now Jackhammer, Granville Anvil and still the Shoe (my "home" bar).

What were the key issues faced in the GLBT community when you first came out? AIDS

What issues do you see as key in the GLBT community today? Rougue Cops harrassing and assaulting us in our own community with the city not doing a thing to stop it. Plus I see too much intergration of hetro world in Boystown, Seems to me we've lost a lot of our unique identity. It's great that more hetro people are behind us and feel comfortable with us, but at the same time we need to hold on to who we are and our roots. There are too many "plastic palaces" now that serve Plastic people, like Sidetracks and Roscoes. If you're not somebody or young, thin and rich, you are nobody. It wasn't that way 15 years ago in the bar scene when I came to Chicago.

Also Equal Rights and Protections.

I also despise the use of the words Queer and Fag by not only others, but even by our own GBLT people. To me those words are just as bad as the N word to afro-americans. They're hurtful words regardless of who uses them or how they're intended. The same way people use "gay" for everything...."It's so gay..." I love the tv ads that are trying to get people to stop using the term incorrectly.



How have AIDS and/or other health issues impacted your life personally? Please also list any leaders, family members, or friends whose death impacted your activism. A couple friends have AIDS, but they were at the right moment in history to be able to get good care & treatments and are still with us. I wish I had been old enough and in Chicago when the AIDS demonstrations were going on. I get fired up over injustice against our people.



How would you describe the “diversity” within the Chicago GLBT community? Specifically, how do you feel racial, gender, class, age and other issues divide or bring the community together, both in your personal experience and as part of the larger community? Diversity is wonderful. A mix of all. But it seems to me we've lost a lot of our unique identity. And there are too many "plastic palaces" now that serve Plastic people, like Sidetracks and Roscoes. If you're not somebody or young, thin and rich, you are nobody. It wasn't that way 15 years ago in the bar scene when I came to Chicago.



If you consider yourself a “political” activist, how do you define this? Avid Petition signer, vigil attendee, war protest marches, equal marraige rallies, and as some say...I am a Big Mouth when it comes to injustice against us- always on my soapbox. I have several Causes on my Facebook as well.

Describe in as many words as you would like what you feel your personal legacy is to the Chicago GLBT community, whether political, social, business, volunteerism, archival, etc. Not sure, I guess someone who has a great deal of love, and care... And someone who still believes the world can be a better place.

This project is also about “defining moments.” Please discuss some of those in your own life. I think a big defining moment was when I finally woke up and realized that even some people in our community use and abuse each other. My first boyfriend was a gamling addict, and drained me of a lot of money. I was naive and new to being out and such, and went right along with it. Then one day it hit me....what am I doing? I guess I hadn't realized that we are no different than hetros when it comes to relationships, etc. And every year seeing the PFLAGers and all the churches who support us in the parade. These churches are True Christians.

Additional comments and memories: Alan Mora came into our lives 15 years ago (he was 18). One of the dancers at the Lucky Horseshoe put him onto me and we became very close friends. He was "my little brother". And to this date I love him more than anything. A year later, he introduced me to a friend of his (Jeff Tiritilli) who had seen me from between a dancer's legs sitting at the bar sipping and waving my champaign glass to and fro and asked Alan, "what's the bitch's problem?" Alan said, "oh that's Lindsey". And I asked Alan, "Doesn't he (Jeff) ever shut up?" (In the gay community, everyone knows me by my middle name, Lindsey.) Jeff and I eventually had a "wedding" ceremony in the apt where I had moved in with him and Alan on Nov 11, 1996 (coincidently also Rememberance Day and Veteren's Day). My family all came and were totally supportive. Jeff became Alan's Father (Alan even told his own father in Ohio that Jeff was his father, not him) and I became his "mommy", but at times I felt like Mommie Dearest LOL, wanting a perfect family life. Alan was coorinator for Chicago Beef at the time and ran into a rough spell, moved out, but eventually turned himself around and grew up and I'm so proud of him. He's my "little brother, and son" and best friend all in one. All 3 of us are a family unit that has stood the test of time. And Alan's cat Penny is our granddaughter. My mom, 86, gets a kick out of being a cat's great-grandma. Jeff and I have gone thru some rough times, financailly & emotionally, but we are the opposite halves to each other. He always makes sure he comes up with somthing everyday to make me laugh. On our 10th anniversary, my nieces threw a party for us at the former Gentry on Halsted. Friends and family filled the place with love and support for us. Jeff's more of a homebody, but I have always been a social butterfly. My family has become Jeff's family as he has written his own family off- they don't seem to want anything to do with us.



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Thomas Lindsey Hooppaw was born in Kankakee, IL January 8, 1968. After receiving his BA in Journalism, minor in Art, from Olivet Nazarene Univerisy in 1990, he found his way to Chicago. In past years he has won awards for photography, painting, scultpure, been music minister for a senior citizen's group, been in church choir, and was on a missions trip in 1990 with ONU to the jungles of Costa Rica where they painted a school, built fences, and built a house. Many of his photographs are of this trip. He and his partner of 14 years, Jeff Tiritilli have marched in anti-war protests, signed hundreds of petitions for equal rights. They have an "adopted son", Alan Mora and a "grandaughter", Penny, Alan's cat. Thomas, Jeff, and Alan have been a family unit for 14 years. Thomas, known by his friends as Lindsey (his middle name), has worked with Pitney Bowes Management Services for 15 years.

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Jeffrey R. Tiritilli



City/state where you were born:
Paterson, NJ

Name of partner, and date you first mark as getting together:
Thomas “Lindsey” Hooppaw, 11/11/1996

City/state where you live currently:
Chicago, IL

Education - schools, degrees/years:
High school and 1 year of US Navy Electronics training, as well as trade school for Microsoft Windows and Office.

Career(s) former and present:
Employment Recruiter, Call Center Supervisor, Assistant Restaurant Manager, PC Store Co-owner, House Manager for several Chicago theaters, store manager for a retail store and cashier for a leather-clothing store, as well as other customer service positions.

Did you serve in the U.S. military? (If so, what years?)
Yes, 1978-1979 (Honorably discharged for Homosexuality)

How do you describe your sexual orientation and your gender?
Bi-Sexual Male

Do you have children and/or grandchildren? (How many of each?)
Yes, 1

If you are GLBT, please describe when you first “knew.”
1964

Who did you first “come out” to (as GLBT or as an ally of GLBT people) and when? Please write a short narrative about your experience in coming out, whether one time or over many years.
In Naval Boot camp 31 Years ago, when I had my first lover. I met him when we both went through indoctrination for the Navy. In Boot camp, I had the top bunk and he had the bottom. After graduation, we came out to each other and had our first sexual experience. A couple of weeks later he committed suicide. Not a happy coming out story,

What troubles did you face as a GLBT person (or an ally of GLBT people)? Describe any incidents in school, at home, at work, in the community, etc.
Some family had a hard time understanding, but eventually all came around. Really no problems at work ever as I never really hid my orientation and since I live in Chicago people are generally accepting. Only problems I can say was with the Chicago Police and the bar raids back in the early 1980’s.

Did you have mentors in the Chicago GLBT community? Did you have role models, even if not from Chicago? if so, who are/were they?
Harvey Milk and the Citizens of San Francisco in the aftermath of his death. My favorite superheroes.

List organizations (GLBT or mainstream) you have been involved in. (Please specify founder, board member, volunteer, donor, etc.)
AIDS Walk Chicago – runner, and Howard Brown Memorial clinic- volunteer 6 years as admin assistant and lab tech.

When you were coming out, what were your favorite Chicago GLBT bars, and in what years?
Broadway Limited, Carol’s Speakeasy, Lucky Horseshoe, Bistro, Little Jims and Club Victoria.

What were the key issues faced in the GLBT community when you first came out?
Police harassment and AIDS, the 1980’s were a very sad time in our community’s history,

What issues do you see as key in the GLBT community today?
Infighting between factions, legalization of marriage, getting rid of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell”, adding “sexual orientation” to all civil rights documentation and the eradication of AIDS and STD’s.

How have AIDS and/or other health issues impacted your life personally? Please also list any leaders, family members, or friends whose death impacted your activism.
OMG! I lived through the 1980’s in Chicago. The list would fill a telephone book, but they are all still here in my heart.

How would you describe the “diversity” within the Chicago GLBT community? Specifically, how do you feel racial, gender, class, age and other issues divide or bring the community together, both in your personal experience and as part of the larger community?
Diversity is getting better, but there is still too much discrimination between the groups that make up the GLBT community. There are still lesbian only groups who will not let male’s interact with them in any way, gay men and women who denounce the Queens as being a negative image, Blacks who get upset with Whites about disenfranchisement and numerous other forms of what I call Infighting.


If you consider yourself a “political” activist, how do you define this?

I am retired from all activism at this point. I did my march to City Hall about the bar raids, marched in the Gay Pride parade for 20 years, have financially supported several civil rights groups and attended numerous rallies in support of GLBT issues. Physical Activism is for the young. I hope they pick up our torch.



Describe in as many words as you would like what you feel your personal legacy is to the Chicago GLBT community, whether political, social, business, volunteerism, archival, etc.

My legacy to the community would be my history and my life example. The fact that I have survived the 1980’s, AIDS and have been in a committed relationship for 14 years, which surpasses the average for a good percentage of Straight “Marriages”.


This project is also about “defining moments.” Please discuss some of those in your own life.
Leaving New Jersey for Chicago, having my first lover commit suicide, marching in my first Gay Pride parade, the first bar raid, my adoptive son telling his biological father that ”Jeff is more of a father to me than you have ever been”, having my in-laws at my Wedding and when I my father-in-law died and I took over the arrangements and was asked by the funeral home “who are you”, my sister-in-law said “he’s our Jeffy’”.


Additional comments and memories:

When the kids who are growing up now look back at me and my generation, I hope they are proud of all the trials and tribulations that we went trough in order for them to enjoy the rights and privileges that we fought so hard to get for us and them.







Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community, the book is edited by Tracy Baim and features the contributions of more than 20 prominent historians and journalists. It is published by Surrey Books, an Agate imprint, and is hard cover, 224 pages, 4-color, with nearly 400 photos.
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