Chicago street renamed in honor of Chuck Renslow by Matt Simonette 2018-05-20
Dozens of community members gathered just outside Full Kit Gear, 5021 N. Clark St., the afternoon of May 19 as a portion of Clark Street was renamed in honor of gay businessman Chuck Renslow, who passed away in June 2017.
Renslow, the proprietor of the former Man's Country bathhouse on the same block, owned a number of businesses and was especially active in Chicago Democratic politics in the 1970s and '80s. He also published GayLife newspaper before that folded in 1986, and founded the annual International Mr. Leather competition, which this year celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Renslow's longtime partner, Ron Ehemann, emceed the brief unveiling ceremony, noting that, while he obviously knew Renslow as a "family man," it was Renslow's spiritual side that for him left behind the most indelible impression.
"On the most intimate level, I knew him as a spiritual person," Ehemann recalled, noting that Renslow's guiding principle was always, 'Do what thou will.'
As such, Ehemann awarded the first "How Great Thou Art" awards, intended to recognize exemplary service to the local LGBT community. The 2018 recipients were activist Lori Cannon as well Windy City Times Publisher Tracy Baim, who along with Owen Keehnen authored the Renslow biography Leatherman: The Legend of Chuck Renslow. Ehemann also acknowledged Full Kit Gear's Chip Beam for helping him to organize his affairs and priorities following Renslow's death. The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce and 47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar helped to get the street dedication confirmed.
Speaking about the impact Renslow's life and career had on the community, Ehemann said, "Chuck belonged to many more people than me."
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