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Chicago Whispers
A Very Personal Gay and Lesbian History
by Sukie de la Croix
2000-07-07

This article shared 1615 times since Fri Jul 7, 2000
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Talking to Hall of Fame inductee Richard Pfeiffer Part 2

The newspapers ...

"I wrote for the Gay Crusader and GayLife. The Gay Crusader was a monthly publication and I would do anything from a half-page to a full-page column out of eight pages. Then, when Grant Ford started up GayLife, I wrote a column for them, and then when [ Chuck ] Renslow bought it, I continued for a short period. I did columns, or periodically, I would review acts from out of town. Man's Country was very big then. On Wednesday nights, they would have everyone from Wayland ( Flowers ) and Madame to whoever the big group was. Some of the New York cabaret acts would come to Chicago."

Pride parade problems ...

"There was one year when eggs were tossed. I remember Renee Hanover got hit with an egg, now that was probably early '70s. Another year the police stopped teenagers from tossing eggs, but there was never any major threat or anything along those lines. But that one incident I remember because Renee got clobbered.

"In '82, the American Nazi party and KKK came out and wanted to protest a gay parade, and they picked Chicago. They had a rally down at the southern end of Lincoln Park, and they were verbally bashing, not only gays, but people of color and Jews, and other groups. But the police kept the two groups separate. They had their rally in the park near North Avenue, and we were in this part. Then they came back briefly in '84 and did a smaller event. But there was never any physical altercation."

Gay Horizons ...

"After Chicago Gay Alliance broke up, I got involved in an organization that was then called Gay Horizons. Then it became Gay and Lesbian Horizons, and now it's Horizons Community Services. I held a number of different positions there, and eventually became president. I was only president for a short time.

"I think a lot of folks in town under 30-35 don't know this, but at one time the Howard Brown Memorial Clinic and Horizons were one and the same group. It was later on that the clinic, as it grew and became larger, split off from Horizons."

Horizons, the beginnings

"I didn't go to the first organizing meeting, I went to the second. The community center had closed, a lot of people left the Gay Alliance, moved on to other cities, and folks said, 'Gee, we need another center in town, we should get another group going.' That's when Gay Horizons started, and we eventually opened a community center on Halsted. A lot of people who started that aren't around anymore.

"Bill Kelley's lover, Michael Bergeron, opened the storefront community center on Halsted, just north of where Little Jim's is now. Michael, out of his own salary, was fronting the money for it, and eventually it got to be too much, and he turned it over to Gay Horizons. At the beginning, a bunch of us staffed the community center. So each of us would take a different night of the week. I was at school in those days, so I would take some of the days. In fact, Horizons phone number now—929-HELPØis the original Gay Switchboard hotline number set up by Michael Bergeron back in 1973."

Howard Brown ...

"It was started by a group of folks that had been in Gay Horizons. In those days you didn't have AIDS, but people were getting the clap, and they wanted to start a VD clinic. The interesting thing, is that they weren't medical people; Bill Krick wasn't, he was actually a Methodist minister, Larry, I can't remember his last name, was an office worker, and Bill Hendrix, were not medical. Now, I did not go to those organizing meetings, so I don't know who else was involved, but I remember those three.

"I don't remember exactly when Howard Brown and Gay Horizons split, but I know there was a realization that they had to have their own direction. A lot of folks were dividing their energies, and we were really into the center, the phone lines. Then there were medical people that would come in, and they felt that Howard Brown should be a separate entity."

More Gay Horizons ...

"I was in Horizons for quite a few years. The rents were going up, it was in that early era of starting to upgrade Halsted Street. Little Jim had just bought the bar, and he was the first really major business on the street. So the rent went up and the center moved to Clark and Diversey—I think there's a CD store there now—up on the second floor there. Then after a number of years I got more involved in campus groups."

Memory Check: Early landmarks in Gay Horizons history.

Soon after the gay community center at 171 Elm closed Sept. 13, 1973, plans were announced for the formation of two new gay centers, one to be called Lambda House, the other to be called Gay Horizons. In November, 1973, Gay Horizons inaugurated its youth coffee house at Liberty Hall on Lincoln Ave. On Feb. 1, 1974, Gay Horizons was incorporated.

On May 8, 1974, a VD testing clinic, cosponsored by Gay Horizons and the Chicago Gay Medical Students Association, opened in Liberty Hall. On Oct. 1, 1974, Gay Horizons moved into 3519 N. Halsted St., which was still called Beckman House.

In December, 1975, Beckman House completed its move to 2745 N. Clark St. at Diversey, above the Astro restaurant. A name change was being contemplated, including the Gay Horizons Community Center. On Aug. 23, 1976, the Executive Board of Gay Horizons voted to allow the Howard Brown clinic to become a separate organization. Gay Horizons continued with its switchboard, counseling services, and gay youth efforts. Howard Brown had by now moved to 2205 N. Halsted.

Future historians take note: The memory section in this column contains just that—Memories!—and are only to be used as a starting point for your research. Send your stories to Sukie de la Croix at Outlines. He also interviews over the phone or by e-mail sukiedelacroix@iname.com .

What a

Difference a

Gay Makes

The Gay/Lesbian Movement, 5, 10, 15 & 20 Years Ago

July 2-8

1995: 5 Years Ago

U.S.: Wigstock: The Movie is in the movie theaters. t Revenues for U.S. gay and lesbian publications reportedly rose 16.2 percent in the past year, a bigger growth than for any other mainstream or minority publications, according to Mulryan/Nash of New York, the agency which studied gay print media. The Hispanic media growth was 6 percent, and the African-American growth was 3 percent. t The Hatcher Center for Human Rights, based in Jesse Helms' home state of North Carolina, is trying to raise funds in their battle to fight the bigot. They're selling T-shirts for $10 each picturing Helms as the antichrist or as a closeted homosexual. t Eva Gabor dies at age 74. t Curacao: The first gay organization on the Caribbean island forms and is called Orguya ( Pride ) . They hold a monthly cafe night and publish a newsletter.

1990: 10 Years Ago

U.S.: Henry Fernandez and Charles Nieto become the first gay couple to take up residence in housing provided for married students at Columbia University's Teachers College in New York. t Michigan overturns its sodomy law. t The nation's first Lesbian Visibility Week takes place. The project, proposed by the West Hollywood Lesbian and Gay Advisory Council, includes gallery exhibits, poetry and theatrical readings, a lesbian video festival, and a special day in the park featuring a "dykes and their dogs," contest. t A huge billboard measuring 28 by 84 feet is erected in Atlanta. It reads "Gay America Loves You." It was designed by Atlanta gay composer Jay McDonald. t The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation protests the rap group Audio Two and its recording company Atlantic, for a new song called "Watcha Lookin' At." Lyrics include the lines: "I can't understand why you lookin' that way/What's the matter witcha boy, are you gay?/ Yo I hope that ain't the case/'Cause gay mothers get punched in the face/I hate faggots/They're livin' in the Village, like meat on some maggots." t Meeting in Boston, the American Federation of Teachers, adopt a set of 11 resolutions confirming the rights of gay and lesbian students and teachers.

1985: 15 Years Ago

U.S.: In San Francisco, a straight man, who was mistaken for gay, is brutally beaten by a street gang and lay on the floor of a bus for an hour and a half waiting for an ambulance. t Anita Bryant is fired from her job as co-host of PM Atlanta. WAGA-TV dismisses the anti-gay activist following a blitz of phone calls protesting her return to show business. t A U.S. District Court jury in Arkansas takes less than two hours to convict James Ellison, 38, a white supremacist leader, for torching a predominantly gay church in Missouri. t A federal judge in California upholds a policy from the Immigration and Naturalization Service barring from this country gay immigrants. t Julian Rush, an only openly gay and practicing Methodist minister, is reappointed as associate pastor of Denver's St. Paul United Methodist Church.

1980: 20 Years Ago

U.S.: In Hamilton, Ohio, four vehicles are damaged by gunshots at Chez-Joy, a predominantly lesbian bar. Also, a woman walking away from the bar is shot at. t Canada: In Winnipeg, the biennial national convention of the Liberal Party adopts a resolution to broaden the Canadian Human Rights Act to include "political belief, sexual orientation and mental handicap." t Netherlands: The Reformed Churches in the Netherlands vote to accept homosexuals as fully accepted members.


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