Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



LGBTQ history: Love finds its way
by Michael Hussey

This article shared 477 times since Wed Jun 29, 2016
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

On July 15-16, the National Archives ( NARA ) will host the National Conversation on Rights and Justice: LGBTQ Human and Civil Rights, at the Center on Halsted and the Chicago History Museum. This program is part of nationwide initiative to facilitate discussion of rights in the 21st century.

The National Conversation series assumes that a knowledge of our history can help us chart a path forward. Below is one example of LGBTQ history in the National Archives' holdings. It involves the case of two men deported in 1916 for being gay.

For more examples of LGBTQ history at NARA, follow Discovering LGBTQ History, a project of the National Archives LGBTQ employee affinity group Stonewall@NARA. To increase awareness of LGBTQ holdings, help us improve the content on Wikipedia.

George and Jim

Jim South, a 24-year-old Canadian real estate agent, moved to Detroit in 1915. Periodically, he returned to Canada to visit family and friends. On one such trip, he met George McBurney, a drapery salesman. A long-distance, romantic relationship developed between the two. They exchanged numerous letters—sometimes two or three a day—and saw each other when they could. George moved to Detroit in late 1915. All seemed to be well, but it wouldn't last.

On April 10, 1916, the U.S. Immigration Bureau issued a warrant for Jim's arrest on the grounds that, while visiting Canada, he and George had committed a crime of "moral turpitude," specifically buggery, "an unnatural, immoral act." George was arrested on the same charge. During Jim's interrogation, he confirmed that he had been sexually intimate with George at the Walker Hotel in Toronto. U.S. officials ruled that this violated American immigration law and ordered their immediate deportation.

But how had Jim and George's personal lives gotten so tangled up in the U.S. immigration bureaucracy? The answer was a nosy landlady. Jim had kept the love letters that George had sent to him. Jim's boarding-house owner had found the letters and reported him to immigration authorities.

The letters, now among the hundreds of thousands of Immigration documents in the holdings of the National Archives, demonstrate George's deep affection for Jim. After one visit, George wrote:

"My Dear Jim, I seem to be going around like I was lost because I kind of felt at the time it would help pass the awful long time that stands between us before I can have my dear lover in my arms again…."

U.S. officials thought George's "love letters" were of a "very effeminate style" that indicated "that both young men have been addicted to indecent, unnatural, and immoral practices." During his interrogation, a clearly nervous Jim was asked, "Is it your opinion that the wording of these letters [from George] is almost effeminate? He replied, "Yes, they are a little that way."

Interrogators asked an equally nervous George, "Didn't you write him several letters in a very effeminate style?" George answered, "Yes." The immigration officials then probed further into George and Jim's relationship.

"Did you and he ever display any signs of affection in an effeminate manner—effeminate caresses? [Long pause]"

"Well perhaps both of us did give way and say how glad we were to be with one another."

"Did you ever kiss him?"


Officials also asked Jim if George had ever bought him a ring. He replied yes. George had given it to him during one of Jim's visits to Toronto. "Was it inscribed or engraved with any significant lettering," immigration officials asked? Jim replied that the inscription read: "Love Finds Its Way. From George to Jim."

In Detroit, George and Jim believed that they had worked out a means of meeting in relative privacy that was unavailable in their boarding houses. They rented a separate apartment that they used occasionally so that they could be together away from the eyes and ears of fellow boarders. Immigration officials questioned them on this matter as well.

U.S. officials found that the letters, the ring, and the apartment proved that both men belonged "to that class in describing which the English language does not supply a polite term." They ordered Jim and George's immediate deportation as their "removal from the United States would be highly beneficial to society in general."

Rather than be deported, Jim voluntarily took the ferry back to Canada on June 20, 1916. George similarly left the U.S. for Canada a few days later. This left open the possibility that they might legally return to the United States. Jim did so four days after having left Detroit. No records of his life afterwards have yet been found.

George returned in 1925 and settled in Buffalo, New York, where he applied for citizenship and worked in a retail store. He lived there with 28-year-old Arthur Boyle, a World War I veteran and former lodger with George and his mother. Federal records cannot tell us whether George and Arthur had a romantic relationship. However, they continued to live together at least until 1940. There are no U.S. government documents that indicate whether Jim and George had any further contact. George died in 1943.

For further information on the National Conversations on Rights and Justice: LGBTQ Human and Civil Rights, go the National Archives website at To register to attend, please go to For the Discovering LGBTQ History Tumblr, go to .

To continue the work of the National Archives' LGBTQ Wikipedia edit-a-thon go to The event will feature local and national leaders, YEPP, and remarks by Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero and noted poet Richard Blanco.

This article shared 477 times since Wed Jun 29, 2016
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

MUSIC Lil Nas X wins top award at MTV VMAs
The MTV VMA Awards took place Sept. 12—and an LGBTQ+ artist took home one of the night's top awards. Lil Nas X won Video of the Year for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)," besting Cardi ...

Gay News

WNBA names 25 greatest players in history
On Sept. 5, the WNBA commemorated its landmark 25th season by announcing the selection of "The W25"—a collection of the 25 greatest and most influential players in WNBA history, according to a press release. The unveiling ...

Gay News

Nat'l Black Justice Coalition, James Baldwin Legacy Awards honor Black elders
--From a press release - On Saturday, August 21, 2021, at 12:00pm ET, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and AARP, will host a virtual celebration entitled the James Baldwin Legacy Awards in honor of the invaluable contributions of Black men ...

Gay News

Jered Pruitt, CASL COO, honored as a Crain's Chicago Business 2021 Notable LGBTQ Exec
Chicago — The Chinese American Service League (CASL), the largest AAPI social service agency in the Midwest, is proud to announce that Chief Operating Officer Jered Pruitt was honored as a Crain's Chicago Business 2021 Notable ...

Gay News

Filmmakers debut Latinx-centered pandemic documentary
Community members gathered at Chicago History Museum (CHM) July 22 for the debut of the locally produced documentary Seguimos Aqui: Pride, Pandemic and Perseverance as well as a conversation with that film's primary collaborators. Seguimos Aqu ...

Gay News

NBC Sports apologizes for misgendering Olympian; GLAAD responds
GLAAD responded to media coverage of the first several days of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, including the misgendering of Team USA skateboarder Alana Smith. Smith made Olympic history July 25 as the first ...

Gay News

Plaque added to childhood home of Emmett Till
On what would have been Civil Rights icon Emmett Till's 80th birthday on July 25, his childhood home in Chicago's West Woodlawn neighborhood received a historic landmark plaque, CBS Chicago reported. The plaque recognizes Till and ...

Gay News

Gina Ortiz Jones, Shawn Skelly confirmed by U.S. Senate; both make LGBTQ history
--From a press release - Washington, DC — The United States Senate today confirmed two historic LGBTQ presidential nominees by unanimous consent. Gina Ortiz Jones, confirmed for Under Secretary of the Air Force, will be the first out lesbian to serve ...

Gay News

Hockey prospect makes history by coming out
Just weeks after the first active pro-football came out as gay, a professional hockey prospect has done the same. Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop has come out as gay, becoming the first active player under contract ...

Gay News

Trans model makes history with SI Swimsuit cover
On July 19, Sports Illustrated (SI) Swimsuit announced this year's cover models: rapper Megan Thee Stallion, tennis player Naomi Osaka and model/actress Leyna Bloom—each making history in her own way. A press release sent to Windy ...

Gay News

'Pose' makes history with Emmy nominations
On July 13, the Emmy-winning father-daughter duo Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us) and Jasmine Cephas Jones (#FreeRayshawn) unveiled the nominations for the 73rd Emmy Awards—and the FX show Pose made history. Not only is Pose ...

Gay News

Local film about Latinx community and COVID to screen July 22
On Thursday, July 22, at 6 p.m., the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St., will host a screening of the film Seguimos Aqui. This documentary tells four unique stories of the impact of COVID on ...

Gay News

Gov. Pritzker signs legislation, Asian American history to be taught in public schools
--From a press release - SKOKIE - On July 9, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed HB 376, the Teaching Equitable Asian American History Act, into law, making Illinois the first state in the nation to require a unit of Asian American ...

Gay News

Ten incredible places to visit in Armenia
Armenia is one of the most fascinating places in the world, with rich millennia-old history, ancient monuments, majestic countryside, lush highlands and much more. I just came back from this country. It was my third time ...

Gay News

WNBA: Sky's win streak hits all-time high
The Chicago Sky set a new franchise-record for consecutive games won—seven—thanks to a 91-68 victory over the New York Liberty on June 25. In the Sky's 15-year history, its longest winning streak was previously six games, ...


Copyright © 2021 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      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

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.