On the scene: Guerrilla Gay Beach at 12th Street Beach
With abundantly sunny skies and temps in the mid-80s last Saturday, the weather was perfect for a lakeside gay takeover. After the success of the popular Guerrilla Gay Bar ventures, a monthly party where groups of gays take over straight bars in the South Loop for a night, organizers have set their sights on Chicago's shoreline. Sticking with the South Loop origins of the group, Guerrilla Gay Beach had its first event at 12th Street Beach at Northerly Island, a location not too crowded and ready for a gay invasion.
While at first it seemed that Guerrilla Gay Beach was a Guerrilla Gay bust (not too many people were there at the noon starting time), things picked up as the guys (there weren't any women at the event) overcame their hangovers and arrived around 1pm. Since 12th Street Beach is hidden behind the massive Museum Campus, many guys seemed excited to venture away from the much more frequented Oak Street or North Avenue beaches to stake out a new summer spot. Walking by sets of families and couples at the beach, I thought it might be difficult to find the GGB group, but thankfully there was a simple formula that emerged for finding the guys. It seems there's a direct correlation between bathing suit length and sexual orientation, which made spotting the gays simple. Though the group doesn't set out to segregate itself from other beachgoers, with short, bright swimming suits and beach-ready bodies, the boys stood out, but in a good way.
Basking in the hot sun, many familiar faces chatted, while some newcomers to the Guerrilla Gay scene sat around a larger group. With around 60-70 guys at the beach, there was a great variety of people to talk to, and the event got even more social as everyone headed to the water. Some even brought drinks (a definite parks and rec no-no) to help keep the social element alive.
While the weather was nice enough to stay at the beach until sunset, many started leaving around 5:30pm (a.k.a. beer thirty). With a successful turnout at this event, GGB organizers mentioned potential locations for future Guerrilla Gay Beach outings, including North Avenue Beach and Oak Street Beach. Though 12th Street Beach had a significant number of people lining the shore, it will be interesting to see how these events fare at the far more crowded beaches.