I usually reserve this column for bars, clubs, art galleries, and gay groups, but this week I want to thank Chicago gay activist Bill Kelley, and his lover Chen Ooi, for inviting me to come along to their home and photograph a group of truly remarkable gay activists. Bill Kelley provided me with the following bios, which I severely edited for space reasons, but I think these guys deserve a big round of applause.
The guests at the dinner party were:
Louis W. Crompton, 76, a retired professor of English at the University of Nebraska. He is an authority on Shaw, Blake, Byron, and gay and lesbian history. Among his books is Byron and Greek Love: Homophobia in 19th-Century England ( University of California Press, 1985 ) , the paperback edition was published in 1998 by Gay Men's Press. In 1978, for the Journal of Homosexuality, he edited the first publication of the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham's circa-1785 essay on Offences Against One's Self: Pederasty; it was the first known argument for homosexual law reform in England but had been withheld from the public for almost 200 years. He has just finished a new book with the working title of Homosexuality and Civilization: Attitudes to Same-Sex Relations in Europe from Ancient Greece to the French Revolution, and in Imperial China and Pre-Meiji Japan.
Crompton's partner Luis came to the United States from Cuba in 1967 and is a psychologist at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. While residing in Cuba, he studied medicine in Canada, and the discriminatory treatment of gay men in Cuba was one of his reasons for emigrating; see nprn.org/immigrantvoices/ for a recent interview.
Grant M. Gallup, 69, is an Episcopal priest and former Chicagoan who for the past dozen years has run Casa Ave Maria, a mission in Managua. He was one of the founders of Integrity/Chicago, the local chapter of the national organization for gay and lesbian Episcopalians. Before that, he belonged to or assisted ONE of Chicago, the local chapter of the pioneer gay organization One, Inc.
In Chicago he was rector of St. Andrew's Church, in a poor area of the West Side, and he participated in civil-rights activism in the South during the 1960s. He was quoted in an August 15, 2000, Advocate article as saying : "Many of us who went south to work with Dr. King in the '60s were gay. A lot of gay people who could not come out for their own liberation could invest the same energies in the liberation of Black people. I think the connections between Black liberation and women's liberation and gay liberation are very deep."
Jim Wickliff, 73, an art and music historian and teacher as well as an editor, was an early leader of the national Integrity organization ( which he served as one of its founding two co-presidents, 1974, '75, and as president, 1975, '76 ) . He was also a founder of Integrity/Chicago, which was organized in his apartment in December 1974. In 1975, the Chicago chapter hosted the national group's first convention at Chicago's Cathedral of St. James, thanks to strategic relationships with diocesan officials that had been formed by persons such as Jim and Grant. Jim edited the Integrity anthology, In Celebration ( Integrity Publications, 1975 ) . In the 1970s, Jim helped to found the Chicago chapter of the Gay Academic Union and was an early supporter of the Gerber/Hart Library and of Chicago's Lavender University and its Oral History Project. He was also a contributor and editor at GayLife newspaper. His photograph in World War II uniform was on the slipcase of the Before Stonewall video. In later life, Jim has become a member of Chicago's Second Unitarian Church.
Modestly, Bill Kelley, a life-long Chicago gay activist from Mattachine Midwest in the '60s to the present day, omitted his own biography. Look out for an interview in Chicago Whispers soon.
The current Windy City Radio Bud Light series of parties are turning out to be a blast. The first one was at Hunter's; the dance bar with hot guys and hot music. It was there that I saw my first Britney Spears video ( that kind of pop music is a gray area for me ) and...I'm ashamed to say...I thought she was fabulous. OK you can kill me now.
Hunters: I don't think I've ever seen so many beautiful men in one bar before. Martin from Nightspots told me they were all suburban boys. Get the fuck out of here!! I'm moving to Elk Grove.
One interesting person I met at Hunter's was their resident Tarot card reader Melody Joy, she's there on Fridays and Saturdays. Yes, I had my cards read. No, I'm not telling what she said.
The next Windy City Radio Bud Light party was at Jackhammer and that bar is like an old friend to me. Kirk was hosting that party, and he was working the crowd hard when I staggered out the door shitfaced. Not before I got my hand in somebody's jeans, though ... who was that guy?
After the Hunter's party I dropped in to see the Rodeo Riders who were partying at Touche. Glad to see the hankie code is still used up there. You know, you see some cute guy and then you see a red hankie in his pocket and it's ... yikes!! I don't think so.
Of course, the cutest Rodeo Rider had a red hankie. Do young gay men know about the hankie code? Eggshell blue is a pretty color ...
It's way ahead of time, but mark your calendar now. The Equality Illinois 10th anniversary 2002 Gala Benefit Dinner is Jan. 26, 2002, at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. For more information call 773-477-7173.
I go to all the Equality Illinois events and they truly are spectacular. Not to be missed.
I'd heard rumors about Wednesday karaoke nights at North End, but I didn't get the message until I walked in and found the bar was packed. On a Wednesday? The karaoke gal is wild-woman DJ Lady Pipes. They pulled some real talent out of the crowd, not least was mega-chickette Cheryl Koby.