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 2020-03-17
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Panel talks lesbians, feminism in Chicago during the '70s and '80s
Extended for the online edition of Windy City Times
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Lesbians and Feminism in Chicago in the 1970s and '80s was the focus of a panel discussion Feb. 12 at Gerber/Hart Library and Archives (Gerber/Hart).

The event took place in conjunction with Gerber/Hart's current exhibit, "Lavender Women and Killer Dykes: Lesbians, Feminism and Community," running through March 25.

Chicago Reader Publisher, Windy City Times co-founder, journalist and author Tracy Baim was the event moderator. Panelists included Women & Children First co-founder and former co-owner Linda Bubon; Executive Sweet co-founder and social-justice activist Pat McCombs; Mountain Moving Coffeehouse Collective (Mountain Moving) co-producer and collective member Kathy Munzer; and Amigas Latinas co-founder and soon-to-be retired Chicago Commission on Human Relations Chair and Commissioner Mona Noriega.

Addressing a packed house, Gerber/Hart Communications and Programming Coordinator and "Lavender Women" exhibit co-creator Jen Dentel spoke about how the exhibit came to fruition including the categories they focused on—lesbian community centers, political action groups, bookstores, publishing, bars and restaurants and women's music in Chicago as well as the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival.

Chicago Women's History Center (CWHC) Board President Mary Ann Johnson said it was "a great adventure" for CWHC to work with Gerber/Hart on the exhibit and this discussion as a co-sponsor.

Baim asked each panelist to share more of their backstories and the roles they played.

McCombs spoke about the successful pickets she organized after being denied entry into the most popular lesbian bar at the time, the now-defunct Augie and CK's Bar, because they were discriminating against women of color. She said that discrimination and her desire to create parties across Chicago in safe spaces led to the formation of Executive Sweet.

Munzer said she joined Mountain Moving almost immediately after coming out, and later became a co-producer during 1981-2005. She added that she has been a member of the Institute for Lesbian Studies discussion group for the past 28 years.

Noriega spoke about coming out in the late 1970s and, at the time, not knowing what feminism. She added that she did not she see anyone like herself—a Latina lesbian mom—so she decided to normalize it. She added that identifying herself an activist and feminist was a gradual process and one of the ways this manifested itself was when she co-created the now-defunct Latina Lesbians en Nuestro Ambiente (LLENA) and Amigas Latinas.

Bubon said the origins of Women & Children First can be traced to when her and Ann Christophersen decided not to pursue their Ph.D.'s and instead opened the bookstore because both of them knew about literature. She added that they were both new feminist activists and that became the bookstore's mission, to feature feminist writers and children's books.

Baim spoke about coming out in college while living in Des Moines, Iowa, and upon returning to Chicago in 1984 she found "this incredible community that felt like it had been there for 100 years."

McCombs, Munzer and Noriega regaled the crowd with stories about what their organizations looked like, including their promotional strategies, during that time while Bubon spoke about the difficulties of finding enough women authors and specifically lesbian-themed books to line the shelves when the bookstore first opened.

Baim asked everyone when they felt the most inspired by what was happening in the LGBT community during that time.

Bubon pointed out the 75 volunteers who came together to help them move the bookstore to Andersonville over the course of one weekend.

Noriega responded it was working for Lambda Legal, which showed her the power of court cases changing things for the better for everyone in the LGBT community and that continues today despite the person who occupies the White House.

Munzer spoke about the big anniversary years at Michigan Womyn's Music Festival because it was all about community.

McCombs said that if she had not done the Executive Sweet parties groups like Affinity would not have gotten started because that is how queer women of color met each other.

Baim added that she is lucky to have always been an out journalist and publisher throughout her career.

During the Q&A session, panelists were asked about the state of feminism today and Bubon said identifying as a feminist became more popular when Hillary Clinton decided to run for president.

One attendee asked if the word lesbian is being lost these days. Baim countered that there are more out famous lesbians than ever now and if younger people use other words to identify themselves that is okay. Baim said it is more important to tell them stories of yesteryear so they know the history.

A 22-year-old attendee who came out as a lesbian 10 years ago asked what she should be doing or seeking out to enrich her life.

Munzer said go to festivals and check out Windy City Times for other events and meetings around the city.

Noriega said learning from work and social experiences would be beneficial, while Bubon spoke about defining her purpose.

"I indulged myself in the community by going to different events," said McCombs.

Baim said there so many places to find community now and that can be a small or large group of people. She added that it was mostly a few people in specific areas that made the LGBT community what it is today and that includes all the panelists.

"It does only take one lesbian to change a light bulb and the world," said Baim.

Guests were invited to check out the exhibit following the event.


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.


Gay News

Chicago History Museum to search for new president 2020-03-25 - The Chicago History Museum announced that its president, Gary T. Johnson, is planning to retire. Johnson has led Chicago's oldest cultural institution, ...

Gay News

ELECTIONS 2020 Biden takes Illinois; trans candidate makes history 2020-03-17 - Former Vice President Joe Biden, building on the momentum he's acquired in the past two weeks, easily defeated U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (and, ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Ann Morris 2020-03-17 - Ann Morris passed away March 7. She was 67. Ann was born in Chicago on April 5, 1952, and grew up in Texas. ...

Gay News

THE AMAZON TRAIL Mick's potato fertilizer 2020-03-17 - When I asked for advice about growing potatoes, our friend Mary wrote, "Here is what Mick does: blood meal, green sand, or wood ...

Gay News

Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame postpones upcoming events 2020-03-17 - Due to COVID-19-related concerns, the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame announced that it has postponed three planned events—the meeting of its Selection Committee, ...

Gay News

Hull-House events suspended through April 15; museum still open 2020-03-13 - In line with the policies for visitors to all University of Illinois campuses in response to developments related to COVID-19, Jane Addams Hull-House ...

Gay News

Women & Children First delaying, cancelling events 2020-03-13 - Because of coronavirus-related concerns, most of the March events at Women & Children First bookstore, 5233 N. Clark St., have been rescheduled for ...

Gay News

National Museum of Mexican Art postpones March public events 2020-03-12 - With the National Museum of Mexican Art monitoring the status of COVID-19 ( coronavirus ) and implementing museum best practices and safety measures, ...

Gay News

Holocaust Museum cancels March 12 dinner 2020-03-11 - Due to the rising uncertainties over COVID-19, Illinois Holocaust Museum has canceled its Annual Humanitarian Awards Dinner, scheduled for Thursday, March 12. With ...

Gay News

LGBT Hall of Fame seeks selection committee members 2020-03-10 - The Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame, now entering its 30th year, announced earlier this year that it will resume inducting new members. After ...


Copyright © 2020 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.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar 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.