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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Black Trans Business Owner Says Logan Square Smoke Shop Worker Chased, Hurled Homophobic Slur At Her: ‘It Was Horrifying,’ Witness Says

The owner of Wish Me Luck Tattoo said the worker threatened her in an unprovoked clash outside of the shop before following her to nearby bar Estereo.

A worker at Up Smoke Shop, 2442 N. Milwaukee Ave., allegedly verbally attacked a Black trans business owner earlier this week.
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LOGAN SQUARE — A Black transgender business owner in Logan Square said she was verbally attacked, threatened, followed and harassed by a vape shop worker in the neighborhood.

Faith, owner of Wish Me Luck Tattoo at 3323 W. Armitage Ave., said the worker called her a homophobic slur and threatened her in a clash outside of Up Vape & Smoke Shop, 2442 N. Milwaukee Ave., before following her to nearby bar Estereo.

The incident happened about 11 p.m. Monday. Faith was having food and drinks with friends on Milwaukee Avenue when she peeled off from the group to grab vape pods from Up Vape & Smoke Shop, she said.

Faith said the man behind the counter, who she did not know, was hostile toward her.

“He was already being aggressive from the gate and said, ‘What the f— do you want?’ I started to say, ‘Vape pods,’ and he interrupted me and said, ‘We only have THC products, bro,’ but I was looking at the Juul stuff on the shelf … . I was like, ‘Wait, you don’t have Juul products?'” she said.

“He was like, ‘I f—-ing said I don’t have it, it’s just THC products, bro.’ I told him, ‘You don’t have to talk me to like that, and I don’t like that you’re calling me “bro.”‘”

Credit: Provided
Faith, in front of her Logan Square shop, Wish Me Luck Tattoo.

After the exchange, the man “lost his mind and went ballistic,” Faith said.

The man called Faith a “f—ing f—–” and started screaming things like “Get the f— out of my store!” and “I’ll f—ing kill you!,” Faith said.

Faith said she was scared for her safety and fled to Estereo, where her friends were hanging out. But the man followed her there and continued to scream at her, said Faith and three witnesses, including two Estereo employees.

The man kept yelling at Estereo’s security guard, saying Faith shouldn’t be allowed to drink in the bar, Estereo manager Grace Bernotavicius said. Meanwhile, Faith’s friends circled around her in back of the bar. Eventually, after a lot of screaming and back and forth with bar workers and the security guard, the man left, the witnesses said.

“It was horrifying and disgusting to witness,” Bernotavicius said.

Supporters of Faith and Chicago’s trans community shared her story widely on social media, with some vowing to boycott the business.

A man who identified himself only as Sam and said he’s the owner of Up Vape & Smoke refused to answer questions about the incident Wednesday. He confirmed people had left negative online reviews of his business referencing Faith’s account, and he denied any homophobia at the shop, which has been in the neighborhood for 12 years. His sister is a lesbian, he said.

The shop was closed Wednesday as Sam fielded questions from a police officer. He denied any involvement in the incident.

Faith said she didn’t file a police report, choosing to seek comfort and support from friends and family. She said the reason she didn’t go to the police is because “there are too many examples of marginalized people calling for protection — and they’re the ones who end up getting hurt.”

Faith said she’s still reeling from the incident, which happened just a mile away from her tattoo shop and on a stretch of Milwaukee Avenue where she frequently hangs out.

“We’re working too f—ing hard to make Logan Square and Chicago a safe, inclusive space … to have that kind of experience as a [nearby] business owner, it just makes me so angry,” she said.

Still, Faith said it’s important to raise awareness about the incident because of the recent deaths of two transgender women in the Chicago area, as well as other deaths of Black transgender women in the city.

Tatiana LaBelle, a Black transgender woman, was found beaten to death in a trash can March 19 in Chatham. A day later, prominent trans advocate Elise Malary was found dead in Lake Michigan in Evanston. Her cause of death has not been released.

“Not doing anything about this reinforces this idea that my life doesn’t have value,” Faith said. “People that prop up or dismiss that kind of behavior as not that big of a deal actually are part of the problem for why people don’t value us.”

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