The Chicago Gay and Lesbian Parents Group held its first-ever reunion at Sidetrack on July 30.
The group formed in the late '70s, a time when gays and lesbians were starting to feel more comfortable coming out, many were in a unique situation: They had previously been married and had children.
"Other single gay people didn't always quite get it," member Rick Karlin said. "[We had to say,] 'No, I can't go out Saturday night unless I find a babysitter'especially with lesbian moms who had custody of their kids. So we formed the group as a support group."
What began as a group small enough to meet in founder Kathy Ramos-Benson's living room, it quickly expanded. Eventually, the Gay and Lesbian Parents Group was holding multiple meetings a week at Horizons Community Center to accommodate its large number of members.
"It saved our lives," member Rita Battles said. "We thought we were the only gay people with kids in the world."
Members bonded over their commonalities, Karlin said, and many of them are still in touch today.