Suburban Businesses Show Support for Gays, Lesbians

Article excerpt

When Jessica Halem and her girlfriend check into a hotel on vacation, the desk clerks often give them strange looks when they ask for one bed instead of two.

Other gay and lesbian couples said they experience the same awkward moments when they plan their retirement investments, go to church or buy a car together.

"When it comes down to it, we are still facing hostile environments," Halem said.

On Sunday, they were able to find a host of supportive businesses during the first-ever suburban Gay and Lesbian Business Expo and variety showcase at The Grove banquet hall in Buffalo Grove.

Nearly 1,000 people attended, and organizers said they believe Expo 2000 will give rise to a stronger network for gays and lesbians who live in the suburbs.

"Because the city (of Chicago) is more heavily populated with all sorts of people, it's easier to find people like yourself," said Chris Covell, who performed at the expo as a member of "The Hysterical Women," a lesbian comedy troupe. "In the suburbs, it takes a little more effort."

Visitors were able to pick up a directory of dozens of suburban businesses that support the gay and lesbian community, take in a show, listen to a book reading or register to vote. …