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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



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

This article shared 1781 times since Wed Jun 28, 2000
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The first gay bar I went to ...

"It was a bar called Jamie's and it was on Clark Street. It was a little bit of everything, probably like the Stonewall. You had street queens in there, you had transgendered people, you had leather people, you had everybody that could be anything ... it was a street type of bar. I had just turned 21.

"I was never really a hippie boy, but I had my hair real long, almost to my waist; I hadn't cut it in seven years. I remember walking in there about 10 minutes before it closed. I walked in and was surrounded by a number of transgendered people who said, 'We love your hair, girlfriend.' It was my first experience and it was real positive. The next night I went back. It was the day after I turned 21. For a 21-year-old kid that had been in the closet, it was a neat thing."

The 1st Pride march from Bug House Square in 1970 ...

"The first Pride march, I just watched. I was still in the closet, in my late-teens, and I was awed by it. The first parade was actually a 'march' in 1970, then the second year it became a 'parade.' There were about 100 people at that first march. I wasn't involved with the community then, but I may have heard about it from a newsletter, or it might have been word of mouth. I was too young to go to bars in those days, but there was a group of folks that I knew that were gay. I worked in Old Town, and that was the hub of the city in those days, late '60s, the Democratic Convention and all that, and I had gay friends, but I wasn't gay identified. So I may have heard about the march from one of them.

"I remember at one point I was in Bug House Square. I know that because one of the speakers was Kitch Childs, who actually ended up in the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. Kitch ended up being my teacher when I was at Harold Washington College years later. I remember being in Bug House, but I was just such a nervous wreck.

Coming out ...

"In 1970, I contacted Mattachine Midwest and talked to folks there, and I also contacted the Chicago Gay Alliance, and people from Gay Lib. At that point the Gay Alliance was splitting from Gay Lib. Gay Lib felt that it was important to deal with lots of different issues, race, sex, class etc. The Chicago Gay Alliance felt those issues were important, but they wanted to put their energies into gay issues. That's when the split occurred."

The community center ...

"I first went to the Chicago Gay Alliance community center in '71. I was one of those hundreds and hundreds of folks who walked around the center about 18 times before I got the guts to go in. They had taken a house and literally converted it into a community center, the living room was the reception area. In the dining area, there were a couple of book cases for the few gay books that were out then. Upstairs, the attic was the meeting rooms. In the kitchen on Sundays there were dinners. In the early days it was very pleasant, but as time went on it got a little hairy; people were crashing there and the center finally closed."

Pride 1971 ...

"I remember the second parade, that's when Gary Chichester, Jerry Cohen and I were all part of the Chicago Gay Alliance. I got involved via the community center. I remember we were sitting there talking, and I volunteered as crowd control monitor that year. I just got involved after that."

The 1971 route ...

"This is where Gary and I have different recollections; I remember we lined up in Diversey harbor, and then went west on Diversey, over to Clark Street and then south on Clark to North Ave., but Gary remembers that we lined up in Diversey harbor, but then we went north to Belmont, and then went west on Belmont and all the way down. That's not my recollection; I don't remember going to Belmont until the third year.

Memory check: "On Sunday, June 27, 1971, the parade will assemble at 1:00 PM at the Diversey Harbor parking lot, and move out at 2:00 PM. The parade will move down Diversey to Clark, and south on Clark to the Free Forum at the LaSalle Street extension in Lincoln Park for a celebration. ( Source: Mattachine Midwest Newsletter June 1971 ) .

On February 1, 1971, the Chicago Gay Alliance took over the ramshackle building at 171 W. Elm St. It took three months to clean it up, and the grand opening of the CGA community center was on May 1, 1971.

Jamie's ( 1110 N. Clark St. ) first advertised on page 3 of the June 2,1972, issue of Mattachine Midwest Newsletter. The bar probably existed long before that. Feathers, who now bartends at Big Daddy's, was working at Jamie's back then. On the evening of Oct. 25, 1974, Jamie's was raided and 66 people were arrested. All the cases were dismissed. Another bar called Jamie's—could be the same owners—opened at 3170 N. Clark St. Circa. 1980. It was later called Jamie's Elsewhere. Does anyone have information, or memories, of Jamie's?

In 1993, Richard Pfeiffer, was inducted into Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. For more than 25 years he has been an activist and volunteer in numerous organizations. He headed the Chicago Gay Alliance ( which ran the city's first gay community center ) and founded the Gay Activists Coalition ( the first gay and lesbian organization at a City Colleges of Chicago campus ) . He is best known for his leadership of Pride Chicago, which facilitates the annual gay and lesbian pride parade.

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 .

What a

Difference a

Gay Makes

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

June 18-24

1995: 5 Years Ago

U.S.: Mayor Rudolph Giuliani marches in New York City's Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade with the Log Cabin Republicans. t Mackenzie Phillips of the '70s sitcom One Day At A Time, says: "I think that love between women is a very natural and beautiful thing. I have no trouble portraying it on the stage. t Patrick Stewart, who plays a gay man in the movie Jeffrey, answering a question about discomfort with the idea some might believe he's gay: "Well, so far as I'm aware, I'm conventionally a heterosexual male. And yet I find something quite flattering in these suggestions of theirs that I'm something else." t Screen goddess Lana Turner, whose daughter Cheryl at age 15 killed one of her mother's abusive male lovers, dies at age 75. Cheryl Crane later came out as a lesbian in a book that detailed the 1958 murder, which was ruled a justifiable homicide. t Brazil: The 17th world conference of the International Lesbian and Gay Association takes place in Rio de Janeiro, ending with a Gay Pride Parade along Rio's Copacabana beach. t El Salvador: About 25 lesbians form a group called Media Luna ( Half Moon ) "to demystify lesbians' dirty image."

1990: 10 Years Ago

U.S.: In Seattle, the Central Conference of American Rabbis accepts on a voice vote a resolution that "all rabbis, regardless of their sexual orientation, be accorded the opportunity to fulfill the sacred vocation which they have chosen." t In New York City, more than 100 lesbians and gays march as an officially recognized contingent in the 32nd annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. t At the National Organization of Women convention in San Francisco, a resolution is adopted that states, "The right to privacy, self-determination, and self-definition are basic feminist principles which exclude 'outing' as a feasible or acceptable strategy to achieve our common goals of equality and liberty." t Chuck Raines of Gay, W. Va., begins a lobbying effort to change the name of his town. "When the community was first named, the word gay meant merry, joyous and lively," says Raines, "But as times have changed, so has the meaning of the word." The town's postmaster, Ruth Skinner, is happy with the town's name, stating, "This place was named gay long before all this other stuff got started."

1985: 15 Years Ago

U.S.: A rap record about AIDS makes its debut in Philadelphia, and is aimed at educating the Black community in particular about the disease. t The New York Supreme Court strikes down New York City Mayor Ed Koch's Executive Order banning job discrimination against gays and lesbians. The order was challenged by the Roman Catholic Church, among others. t The 5th National Gathering of the United Church Coalition for Lesbian/Gay Concerns is held at the Iowa State University Convention Center. With the theme "A Mighty Spirit ... A Gentle Heart," the conference features Quaker psychologist Charlotte Kasl. t Australia: The Department of Immigration rejects the applications of two gay people who want to take up permanent residence. Both were told to leave the country within two weeks.

1980: 20 Years Ago

U.S.: The 1st International Symposium on Androgyny takes places in San Diego. t In Houston, gay activist Fred Paez is shot by an off-duty policeman who claims his weapon fired accidentally. t The American Civil Liberties Union's National Gay Rights Project announces the formation of a Gay Prisoners Committee, to document incidents of discrimination suffered by lesbian and gay prisoners at the hands of police, the courts, prison personnel, or other prisoners.

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