Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-11-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

'Gay Is Good' exhibit opens at Gerber/Hart
Extended for the online edition of Windy City Times
by Liz Baudler
2018-04-23

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


To the curators' delighted surprise, over 100 people packed the Atrium at the Gerber/Hart Library, 6500 N. Clark St, for the April 21 opening of the "Gay is Good" exhibit. ( Perhaps it had something to do with—as director Wil Brant revealed during offhand conversation—Seth Meyers name-dropping the exhibit in a recent monologue. )

Brandt began the evening before introducing historian and UIC professor John D'Emilio by holding up an archive box. The "antique gay box," Brandt said, was part of the William B. Kelley and Chen K. Ooi collection, and its contents sparked the idea of for an exhibit about pre-Stonewall "homophile" movements.

D'Emilio opened by saying that LGBTQ history "doesn't get a lot of circulation in our culture." While Stonewall is presented to the world as the beginning of the LGBTQ movement—and even half of D'Emilio's UIC students were unaware of its role in creating the Pride Parade—he explained there was a "continuous history of LGBT organizations" operating in the '50s and '60s. D'Emilio described that era as the worst time to be queer in U.S history.

In addition to losing jobs, having their mail tracked and FBI files opened on them, LGBTQ people faced concerted efforts to shame them. According to D'Emilio, a newspaper published the names of those arrested in a raid on Chicago's Fun Lounge in 1964, and the Tribune ran "dozens" of articles about "moral degenerates and sexual peverts' in the early '50s.

D'Emilio described '50s homophile movements as "activism in the most cautious way imaginable," but by the '60s, a few brave individuals were taking steps towards openness. For instance, while '50s activisms often wrote under psuedonyms in LGBT publications, in the '60s Barbara Giddings, editor of the lesbian publication the Ladder, printed photos of real lesbians. But larger activism, such as the first public demonstrations, still had a goal of presenting homosexuals as responsible, respectable people.

D'Emilio credited the Chicago Chapter of the Mattachine Society with using the phrase "gay power" three to four years before Stonewall. Chicago was also the site of a meeting called NACHO—North American Conference of Homophile Organizations in 1968, where "gay is good" was adopted as an official slogan. While this was a meeting of 30-40 different groups, D'Emilio pointed out that there are more LGBTQ organzations today in Chicago that there were nationally in the '60s.

'Exhibit curators were struck by the volume and nature of the materials they'd encountered. James Conley talked about discovering a "brilliant queer narrative" in the artifacts. While Conley had felt relatively well-informed about his community's past, he found the materials and thinking about the people who created them "very touching."

"Seeing that these people put their lives out there...it makes you feel very included in this long history," Conley said.

Jenn Dentel talked about Chicago lesbian pulp author Valerie Taylor's efforts to make her books a resource for readers, saying she was "stunned" by the education detail. Taylor, a member of Mattachine Midwest, included real books and locations of gay bars in her stories, and even had characters go to a meeting of a society like Mattachine.

Exhibit designer Kurt Heinrich appreciated reading how "catty" homophile organizations could be with each other in their correspondence. The designs of 60s publications, particularly a 1968 copy of Tangent, inspired the exhibit's colorful circle theme, with Heinrich using the colors on publication covers to create an "alternative rainbow style" for the exhibit. He also enjoyed the various gay slogans found on buttons from the era so much that Gerber/Hart reproduced a number of gay buttons for the exhibit opening—and the audience could be found sporting slogans like "I'm Peculiar" and "It's a Gay World" on their shirts throughout the evening.

Jeff Buchholz, responsible for exhibit text, recalled realizing that all the activists had been working for their cause in their spare time, and that while Gerber/Hart had a considerable amount of material, so much of it would have been destroyed for fear of discovery in the time it was created. Curator Peter Schuster expressed how grateful he was for the Kelley collection and the volunteers who helped sort through it.

Before everyone dispersed to check out the newly opened exhibit, and perhaps browse through original copies of gay publications like The Ladder and One or bid on a silent auction item, D'Emilio reminded the audience that organizations like Gerber/Hart only exist with the support of the community. And to him, the exhibit highlighted one of the "decisive moments" in LGBTQ history.

"Fifty years ago, 'Gay is Good' was a big deal," D'Emilio said. "It was a sign of things that were shortly to come."


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Local podcast looks at horror from LGBT perspective 2019-11-12 - On their podcast FriGay the 13th, co-hosts Matty Zaradich and Andrew Huff use an LGBT perspective to discuss horror in entertainment, horror in ...


Gay News

Conversation on the myth of journalistic objectivity Nov. 14 2019-11-12 - On Thursday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m., Lewis Raven Wallace will be in conversation with Tracy Baim, discussing his book The View from ...


Gay News

Local LGBTQ activism topic of panel at library discussion 2019-11-04 - Chicago Public Library's Pride Heritage Committee and Brave Space Alliance hosted a panel discussion, "LGBTQ Activism's Past, Present and Future in Chicago," Oct. ...


Gay News

BOOKS Life's a witch in Augusten Burroughs' new memoir 2019-10-30 - After reading Augusten Burroughs' new tome Toil & Trouble some readers might have a "Witch, please?!" reaction to the memoirist's big reveal that ...


Gay News

Five Worth Finding: TeaPotBrew, 'The GayBCs' and more 2019-10-29 - —TeaPotBrew Bakery: Nestled in the South Loop/Prairie District, this bakery ( 1802 S. Wabash St.; 312-966-6001 ) features dozens of teas, delicious sandwiches/pastries ...


Gay News

'Boystown' author starts new series 2019-10-21 - Jake Biondi—the author of the Boystown series—will release his new Majesty series Friday, Dec. 13. The official title of the book is Majesty ...


Gay News

Community reacts to Women & Children First anti-trans vandalism 2019-10-20 - Women & Children First bookstore, the Chicago Therapy Collective and Andersonville Chamber of Commerce joined forces Oct. 20 in a community activation event ...


Gay News

Local author Tedd Hawks writes 'Burn' 2019-10-17 - Out Chicagoan Tedd Hawks has written the novel Burn—which encompasses the intersecting queer lives of an elderly man in Edgewater, a down-and-out accountant ...


Gay News

MOMBIAN LGBTQ-inclusive books, and hope, in rural schools 2019-10-16 - LGBTQ students in rural schools are more likely to face bias and discrimination than those in urban and suburban ones, but their schools ...


Gay News

Angry Black Hoemo talks race, LGBTQs and sex positivity 2019-10-16 - Some queer people who have spent time on Twitter have probably discovered the name "Angry Black Hoemo" on their timelines. Angry Black Hoemo, ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.