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  WINDY CITY TIMES

BOOKS Chicago After Stonewall available May 11
2021-04-19

This article shared 870 times since Mon Apr 19, 2021
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Chicago After Stonewall: Gay Lib to Gay Life—a detailed account of how LGBTQ's in Carl Sandburg's "City of the Big Shoulders" responded to the Stonewall Riots—will be available May 11. This book pulls together jigsaw pieces of information from many sources, including a wealth of documents held in the McCormick Library of Special Collections at Northwestern University, to reveal a picture of a raggle-taggle band of dysfunctional rebels with one cause.

In post-Stonewall Chicago, several attempts were made to publish a gay newspaper, but none lasted. The longest was the Chicago Gay Crusader with twenty-six issues, between 1973-1975. However, the paper was irregular and a hangover from the 1960s hippie underground press in style. It wasn't until June 20, 1975, when Grant L. Ford published Volume 1/Number 1 of Chicago Gay Life, that Chicago boasted a professional gay newspaper. The headlines on the front page of the first issue read: "GAY PRIDE!! Manford, Segal to speak during GP week"; "Women plan special events"; "Associate Editor speaks out"; "Religious radio station grants gays equal time," and; "Gay military men to appear on radio."

After that first issue, a seamless thread of gay newspapers continued to the present day, a goldmine for researchers of LGBTQ history: Gay Chicago (1976-2011); Windy City Times (1985-present); Outlines (1987-2000); and Chicago Free Press (1999-2010).

However, from the Stonewall Riots until the publication of Chicago Gay Life, there was no reliable source for local gay news, only irregular gay publications like The Paper, Mattachine Midwest Newsletter, or hippie underground/alternative rags, Seed, Kaleidoscope, Reader, and Second City, and college newspapers like Maroon and Roosevelt Torch.

As with my other two history books, Chicago Whispers: A History of LGBT Chicago Before Stonewall and Out of the Underground: Homosexuals, the Radical Press and the Rise and Fall of the Gay Liberation Front, I stay very close to my sources. I quote extensively from newspapers and magazines because I want the reader to experience what it was like "in the moment." I also quote from what gay activist Frank Kameny called "the country's most influential opinion-molders" — newspaper advice columnists.

This book begins with Henry Weimhoff, a University of Chicago student, and ends with the first issue of Gay Life on June 20, 1975 and an impassioned editorial by Valerie Bouchard for the community to "come together, unite, and focus on similarities and not differences."

Chicago After Stonewall: Gay Lib to Gay Life will be available at Amazon or any bookstore; those who want a signed copy can order from the Rattling Good Yarns Press online bookstore at RattlingGoodYarns.com .


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