When I first requested to join the Chicago Queer Exchange on facebook, I was a little worried about how and in what way I would need to convince someone of my queerness. “Look, I promise that both that my sexuality and desire for a baroque revival couch of the 1950’s with faded velvet seat cushions and a gold trims is fluid!” It turns out I didn’t need to worry as much as I did about my last two relationships being with cis gender straight men, somehow counting against my join request. I was approved, and to this day check it obsessively.

IT’S BASICALLY JUST THE CRAIGSLIST FREE PAGES: A semi-comprehensive list of the posts on the Chicago Queer Exchange by an underemployed future hoarder that likes to sometimes touch boobs.

  1. Furniture

MOST of the furniture on the Chicago Queer Exchange identifies as “Midcentury Modern” or in layman’s terms, “Mad Men.” Now you too can possess the replica of tan armoire fictional unhappy housewives dry humped while their husbands were out dry humping their secretaries.

I would really, really, REALLY like that chair with gnome pattern appholstery. The post says they would prefer if all four were bought in a set. and I am getting an uber ex el right the fuck now, see ya soon.

I like items that are as much conversation topics as they are functional and I imagine the following scene taking place:

Person who comes to my house: Nice gnome chairs, dude.

Ida: Thank you.

Person who comes to my house: Have you seen the movie Amelie?

Ida: I certainly have.

Person who comes to my house: There’s a gnome statue in that movie that plays a pivotal role.

Ida: Yes. Let’s kiss now.

(Amelie is a great movie, but don’t be a dumbass like me and see it at an outdoor movie fest. It’s subtitled and for sure there’s gonna be someone with a huge head in front of you and you’ll get nothing from it because you don’t speak french…unless you speak french. Do you speak french? Where did you study abroad? Mozamobique, oh wow, I assumed it was Paris, You guys, Do you see the great conversations these Gnome Chairs have already wrought? I gotta have these chairs!)

2. Apartments

Sublet/rent/renew our open room in Edgewaterboldtervillesquare park. Our backyard has real life vegetables and our common area has 6–12 rainbow flags. Must be okay with the bathroom being a DIY venue. Must be okay with four months out of the year the apartment is a freegan commune. Must love dogs. We don’t have any, but you must love them. The rent is cheap but you are sharing a room with a goat and a chicken an s and m bench and the wifi is frustratingly just numbers. No assholes and please please please oh pretty please be a drag queen.

2. Beauty Tips, wanted and given.

Quick story. So, I thought the perfect thing to do for Pride, this year would be to dye my pubic hair bubblegum pink. Like many of my friends, I was annoyed that the Pride festival itself had gotten so general so commercial and I thought I’d get a rush of specificity and self empowerment when I looked down and saw a glowing pink bush. Happy Pride to me! And all my single ladies! Look at my crotch! My friend Megan did not talk me out of it. Because Megan is great. And because I would not have let her.

Thursday rolls around and Megan picks me up from my house and this determination has all but faded. We wereboth very tired from our work days. We are both not wanting to let the other one down so we both say:

I mean, I’ll do it if you wanna do it.

We decide to compromise and dye our arm pit pubes instead.

Unlike the people on the Queer Exchange who smartly survey the group to ask about the safest and most effective and long lasting dyes to use for arm pits, Megan and I use manic panic and bleach I bought at Walgreens. As Megan puts on the plastic gloves, and grabs my wrist to raise, we comment on how it was the right move to not just apply potentially harmful chemicals on our lower lady meats.

3. Lizards

I think getting a thing called a monster chameleon at this point in my life wouldn’t surprise anyone.

4. Therapists

There are alot of posts about people seeking mental health advice. I am not an expert in the area but I have shopped around:

My first therapist I saw for two weeks had an office decorated by the staff of Target. She was recommended to me via an automated disembodied phone operator, via my insurance,and I don’t remember her name. I don’t remember what we worked on because it was during my impatient phase and I dipped after two weeks.

My next therapist looked a whole lot like Ani Difranco and we did a lot of breathing and visualizing colors. Other than the fact that she owned this stupid fucking beaded necklace that one way said “truth” and another way said “trust” I actually kinda liked her. I left because her office was all the way in fucking Evanston and I could no longer bullshit myself into believing that the purple line commute was “an opportunity to clear my head” we left on good terms, and the color orange.

The therapist I am currently seeing is great. Sometimes she goes too far in talking about her groceries, but she gets my weird analogies about depression and so overall I am happy with her.

Chicago Mindfulness Psychotherapy in Andersonville, they take most insurance, and yes, they are LGBTQRSPVWXYZLMNOKI friendly.

5. Binders

Not the kind that hold three hole punch paper. The kind that hold boobs. Down. One of the wonderful qualities of living as a queer person is to constantly shift and question and experiment with the relationship to one’s body. Maybe people want to bind their chest for a little while and then they decided they don’t want to. Or perhaps the reason that these binders are so prevelant on the page is because people getting rid of them is because they have gotten top surgery. Unfortunately looking the way one wants to look is a financial burden for many, and maybe they are hoping to make some of that money back by selling their transitional method. Binders themselves are expensive, I looked on the internet and it seems that alot of trans folks who can’t afford them, take to using ace bandages or duct tape. DUCT TAPE! YIKES! Thanks to the CQE, people who want to use binders can do so in a safe and cost effective way by buying from friends on the internet who are selling it at half the price.

6.Events

There is one called: Cuddle Party. The description is “let’s cuddle and talk about boundaries!” I thought about messaging the organizer of this to tell them that I think that it is vital that it happens in the reverse order. I myself, like cuddling but ONE AT A TIME. take a number. line up, strangers.

***The barista in the coffee shop that I live in just asked me what I was writing about. I told them the Chicago Queer Exchange. They hadn’t heard of it, and they asked me if it was a place or a concept. I said neither but I suppose I could have said both******

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