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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Exhibit explores city's dyke nightspots
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2017-10-04

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On Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day, Howard Brown Health's "Lost & Found: An exhibit exploring Chicago's dyke spaces of the '70s and '80s" will open for a limited run ( through Oct. 28 ) at Reunion Chicago, 2557 W. North Ave., in Humboldt Park.

The exhibit is co-organized by producer Kristen Kaza ( co-founder of Slo 'Mo Party and co-director alongside Elijah McKinnon of Reunion Chicago ) and curator Ruby Western ( curator of AKR: A Beauty Salon and writer of OpenTV's Afternoon Snatch ) with input from Howard Brown's Director of Social Services Liz Weck and will feature items from Gerber/Hart Library and Archives and this publication's archives.

Reunion Chicago is an art gallery, event space and studio that was opened to fill a void in Chicago's venue landscape for women, LGBTQ people and people of color to showcase their work.

"The exhibit completely aligns with our mission to create more opportunity for dialogue and connection within our diverse community as well as being intersectional, intentional and accessible," said Kaza.

When asked why they wanted to put this exhibit together, Kaza noted that there has been a growing conversation about where all the queer women spaces have gone. She said that part of the reason for this erasure is the divide between generations so this exhibit will be a space for communion and conversation.

Western explained that Weck wanted to do something with Gerber/Hart Library and Archives scheduled around National Coming Out Day.

Weck said that oftentimes LBTQ women harbor distrust of medical systems and care environments due to real and perceived discrimination and she wants Howard Brown Health to be a key healthcare resource for this community. This exhibit, Weck noted, is a way for Howard Brown Health to invest in LBTQ women's community and holistic health.

"We have so many delicious surprises," said Western. "Everything from apparel, to sports team trophies, to oodles and oodles of books. You are going to see some photos of folks from the '70s and '80s in the dyke spaces we're talking about—some activist's faces you will recognize ( like Vernita Grey ) and some people out on the town enjoying themselves. My personal favorite involves some truly incredible haircuts, a saxophone and a trumpet."

"There's a neon sign I am pretty excited about, and [this publication's Publisher and Executive Editor] Tracy Baim was kind enough to let us in to her catacombs of queer history ( aka her basement ) and some of those photos are really incredible," said Weck.

In addition to the exhibits, there will also be a variety of other events. Opening night will feature queer comedy hosted by Ashley Tribble ( $10 suggested donation with all proceeds going to Howard Brown Health ) and a pop-up dyke bar while a '70s and '80s horror film Halloween-themed "Slo 'Mo: Slow Jams for Queer Fam" dance party with jams by Audio Jack ( $15 ticket price ) will close out the exhibit.

There will also be a number of free events including a queer family day with StoryCorps on hand to do recordings, family portraits and radical button making with Busy Beaver Buttons; guided tours and a panel discussion featuring owners and organizers of dyke spaces and parties —Marge Summit ( His n Hers ), Kathy Munzer ( Mountain Moving Coffeehouse for Womyn & Children ), Pat McCombs ( Executive Sweet parties ) and Baim ( RSVP to slomoparty@gmail.com for the discussion ).

Howard Brown, in collaboration with The Morten Group, will be launching their women's health needs assessment, #ChicagoHealthLooksLike, on the night of the panel discussion.

"I hope people learn a little more about the history of our community due to this exhibit and it starts dialogues about the future of queer spaces," said Western.

"I want people to keep the conversation going," said Kaza. "We hope people will be inspired to tell their own stories, build spaces, and keep researching and honoring their queer history. I hope people of different generations in the queer community connect with each other because of this exhibit and that our elders get their due for blazing the trails we are able to traverse today. I also hope allies will realize their role in investing in queer people's economies and futures."

"Survival, self-care and stories of resilience are often passed down from parents to children in marginalized communities," said Weck. "The queer community does not have a traditional avenue for passing down cherished lessons. We must find our history, build our own families and learn how to survive from each other and I hope this exhibit will be one of the avenues that ignites conversation and created intersectional connections so this history will continue to be shared."

See DykeBarChi.com and www.instagram.com/dykebarchi/ for more information.


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