Members of the leather/fetish and bar communities gathered Friday, April 15, at Touche to honor manager David Boyer on his four decades in Chicago's bar scene. The party, appropriately titled "1976: Celebrating David Boyer's 40 Years Behind Bars," featured a special DJ set featuring disco, '70s rock and more from DJ Freddie Bain.
The bar's walls were decorated with blowups of press clippings from Chicago's gay press in 1976, including Gay Life and Gay Chicago. The hallway to the Club Room was plastered with copies of ads from bars of that era.
In celebration of Boyer's stints at several different bars over the years, the Touche space was transformed into a bar complex, with each section paying homage to certain locations from his career. It featured a dance floor a la Bistro days, as well as elements from Gold Coast, Cheeks and more.
A highlight of the night was the surprise presentation to Boyer of the 2016 Jon-Henri Damski Award, in recognition of his activism work. The presentation was preceded by a stirring tribute reading by Heartland Health Outreach founder Lori Cannon. Cannon then presented the award to Boyer with help from previous Jon-Henri Damski Award honoree Dean Ogren.
"Long before LGBT rights legislation and AIDS, David was there," recalled Cannon. "While many of us went to march on Washington in 1987, David attended the first DC march for gay and lesbian rights in '79 with a small group of would-be activists to show the world their pride in being gay, leather men. By then, his brand of activism had taken front and center, and he never looked back."