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A Gay in the Life: Patrick T.
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2012-10-31


Talking with Patrick T., one is struck by his boundless energy and optimism.

Both of those qualities come in quite handy at Northside College Prep, a public four-year selective enrollment magnet high school that's in Chicago's North Park neighborhood. He works there as a college counselor, and says that his biggest role is "being a student advocate."

He became a counselor by way of teaching. He initially taught fifth-, sixth- and ninth-grade biology—and liked the "counseling component; the social and emotional components. You do that anyway as teachers," he said. He also wanted to get his clinical license." He started working at Northside in 2001.

However, something else that was striking was the genuine adoration the students seem to hold for him—and he adores them in return. "I love this place," he said. "There are some really great, really bright kids. You just have to be sure to keep these really bright kids engaged and stay one step ahead of them."

P.T. is also an advisor for Northside Alliance, the school's LGBTA organization. "We have three amazing student co-leaders here this year," he said. (For more on Northside Alliance, go to the group's page on Facebook.) "The feedback has been incredible; 60 people showed up for the first meeting."

With October being National Coming Out Month, he told his own coming-out story: "If you saw me as a kid, you wouldn't need a story; I was so posed in my picture. But I met someone during college, when I worked as a lifeguard. My friend and I would go to [the now-defunct Chicago club] Vortex, while I lived in Rockford. I met this gorgeous guy and I was like, "What is going on?" It didn't work out but it was this tipping point in understanding who I am.

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"One day I told my mom, 'I think I'm gay.' She said, 'Well, you don't have to try everything.' But I've always been outgoing, and my family has always been very supportive of who I am."

By the way, what would he advise his own kid about education? "Be passionate about something," he said. "Find things that interest you, and do more of that."

THE STATS

Jobs

College counselor at Northside College Prep; teacher at DePaul University in the school counseling department

Hobbies

Art (mixed media), volleyball and Bikram yoga

Favorite snack food

"I eat protein bars like they're going out of style."

Relationship status

"Happily single"

Favorite vacation spot

Miami

Colleges

Brigham Young University-Hawaii; Lawrence University; DePaul University

Favorite musicians

Alison Moyet, The Killers and Imagine Dragons. "I listen to Shirley Horn's 'Here's to Life' every morning."

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