So what if there's an age difference? Love has no boundaries and lord knows neither do I. Meet October's Crush!
October's Crush: Pidgeon Pagonis
Profession: AIC's Youth Leadership Coordinator / Teen Dating Violence Prevention Coordinator / Graduate Student at DePaul
What have been some highlights of your work as Youth Leadership Coordinator for Inter/Act, an intersex/DSD youth project, at Advocates for Informed Choice (AIC)?
Speaking to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights' Special Rapporteur on Torture on my 27th birthday this year in D.C. It was my first time in D.C and it made me feel like, yeah--intersex people and our autonomy are finally beginning to receive the respect we deserve. It was also just amazing to realize cities outside of Chicago actually experience spring in March. Also, I got to meet and hang out with Huey Lewis at an Interface Project fundraiser a few weeks ago. When we took a picture together, he said “Pidgeon and the Crow.” I don’t know why he said that, but it made me feel closer to him.
"They" is your preferred pronoun. Why?
I like to confuse those in my life who specialize in grammar. Just kidding, I just recently decided upon this because it's the start of a new academic year, and with that comes check-in's (check-in's are queer and/or justice minded folks' way of making sure everyone's feelings are acknowledged), and with check-in's come the questions: what is your Preferred Gender Pronoun (PGP)? I decided to make it easier for people by just finally choosing one. He doesn't feel right and she is starting to lose it's appeal--so 'they' it is.
How have things changed for intersex children over the last decade?
OMG they have changed so much, and sadly, they have changed so little (They, in this case, refers to 'things' ;) When I was born in 86, the doctors quickly moved in and performed 2 "normalizing" surgeries on me before the age of one. My clitoris at the time was measuring just over a centimeter. What would have been a bonus for me later in life, instead became a source of intense pain and debilitating shame. When I was 11, the surgeons at a local Children’s Hospital decided their work wasn’t finished so they hacked away some more. Their other goal was to make sure I could have “normal sex with my husband.” That is a direct quote from one of the doctor’s when he was explaining to me what their surgery would provide. Little did they know (or care to know) that I would figure out that penetrative sex with CIS-men isn’t the be-all-end-all. Today, I have an opportunity to work with youth from all across the world and am pleased to say that things are slowly changing. Thanks to wonderful support groups and advocacy organizations such as AIC, ISNA, OII, and the Inter/Face project to name a few, more parents are making the decision to allow their child to wait until they are old enough to decided what they want. I’ve had the opportunity to work with kids as young as 8 and 9 who are learning how to write disclosure letters to their best friends to inform them about their intersex/DSD diagnosis. Each time one of these letters is written it’s akin to a tiny chip being made in the historic wall of secrecy and shame that my community has been forced to live with. With that said, things are not perfect and I’m still hearing stories of little babies like me being scheduled for non-medically necessary normalizing surgeries at hospitals in this very city because they don’t look like other little girls or little boys. In any day and age that is completely unacceptable.
What's your favorite thing about Chicago?
Number 1 would have to be a tie between The Bulls and the people. Maybe I’m biased because I was born and raised here, but we have some of the coolest and cutest people. Next would be the food. You haven’t lived until you’ve been to Mr. D’s on Diversey [and had] a char grilled shish-kabob in a french roll doused in special juice with a lemon squeezed on top made by on old-school Greek guy who doesn’t even have to look at the grill anymore while he makes your order. Third is the Lake, a big beautiful blue magnet that I can’t move away from.
What's your least favorite thing about Chicago?
Rahm Emmanuel. He’s in a category of his own. Every day I hear at least one person say “I’m not voting for HIM again,” which brings a smile to my face. I also don’t like the gentrification that is making this city look more and more unfamiliar every day. Lastly, winter. You can have that.
Describe your perfect day.
It would start at the lake watching the sunrise with a really cute person or a really good friend. then we would bike to one of my favorite diners like the little corner restaurant or Alexanders for Denver Skillet (crispy hash browns, please). Then we would see a matinee at the Music Box on a Monday because it’s buy one get one free. After that, we would have a super awesome conversation about how the movie pulled at our heart strings and makes us want to be better people. Then we would get lunch at Mr. D’s. After that, we would go the beach with my dog and look at the sky as the sun sets. The cute person / good friend would have a dog as well and our dogs would swim together in the lake. After that, we would bring wine to Thai’s Spice and sit on the pillows and eat tom yum soup and pad woon sen. Then we would go skinny dipping at Hollywood Beach until the cops kicked us out. After the cops left, we’d take a sail boat out onto the lake far enough from the city so we could see the milky way. We’d then have the best sleep of our lives in the middle of the lake because I’ve been told it’s like sleeping in the womb.
Relationship Deal breaker?
A Miami Heat fan. That--and someone who has bad politics, smokes cigarettes, and hates Michael Jackson.
Who was your first crush?
Why are you crushworthy?
Because I am the lovechild of Michael Jackson and Frida Kahlo.
Any questions for me?
Why do I feel like you're watching me?
Brief Bio: Pidgeon Pagonis is 27 years old and based in Chicago where they are a research assistant in the Women’s and Gender Studies graduate program at DePaul University. They were recently given a “30 under 30” award by The Windy City Times.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and
afterellen.com Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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