Upon moving to Uptown, G Silverstein-Tapp quickly realized the neighborhood’s dire lack of businesses and culture available for queer women as well as trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people.
It was this shortage that inspired Silverstein-Tapp to establish the Queer Kickboxing Club Chicago in April 2019, with only the gym in their apartment and a few friends to train.
“I just was sick of being that person who complained about things and didn’t do anything about them,” Silverstein-Tapp said.
Silverstein-Tapp has practiced mixed martial arts since age 6 and said it is an “all-encompassing” art that empowered them to take up space physically and emotionally.
They said it was important for them to create a space that was safe and accessible, both physically and financially, offering modifications for different body types, and sliding scale fees.
Through word of mouth, flyers, emails and social media, Silverstein-Tapp said the club garnered a lot of positive attention and support from the LGBTQ+ community in Chicago. Soon, they said the club had over 50 members and a number of donated supplies.
However, like many groups, QKC was “hit hard” by COVID-19, and membership dwindled as they were forced to hold virtual lessons, Silverstein-Tapp said.
Despite this, they said QKC is still open for business and is now holding in-person training sessions outdoors with pads and one-on-one training sessions in their apartment gym.
Once the pandemic is over, Silverstein-Tapp said they plan to restart their GoFundMe Kickstarter to help pay for the club’s own gym to hold classes and workshops. In the long term, they said their goal is to start QKC chapters in other cities across the country.
“I hope to be an approachable, welcoming, kick-ass trainer and community member who actively listens to the community’s needs,” Silverstein-Tapp said.