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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



chicago whispers/What A Difference A Gay Makes

This article shared 1799 times since Wed Nov 21, 2001
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chicago whispers

by Sukie de la Croix

E-mail received from Steven Martin, in answer to my question, "Whatever happened to Larry Seewald from the Gold Coast?"

"I probably met Larry around 1986 when he hired my friend, Kathy, in his department at NBC-TV. He and his lover Michael DiPaolo were an absolute riot and I enjoyed hearing of their tales of the city including Larry's time spent at the Gold Coast.

"I'm sorry to have to inform that Larry died in May of 1990 and Michael died in May of 1993. They died three years and a day apart. They both died of complications from AIDS. They are buried in Roseland Cemetery under a unique headstone which Michael had designed. They were truly a class act and I'm glad I got to know them.

"On a personal note—I almost pooped when I saw Larry's name in your column of last week. At the time I knew them they were a domesticated couple and I didn't meet all that many of their friends and so I'm not sure that many know what happened to him. It's nice to know that someone out there remembers him from those days.

"You have a great column and I'm always interested in reading about the by-gone days. I wasn't really out but certainly knew many of the places you have written about."

Talking to Jim Dohr ...

The first gay bar I ever went to ...

"I believe it was one of three bars, either Ruthie's, Shari's, or the old Annex, which were all on Clark Street. The Annex was approximately where the Lakeview Health Clinic is now. That had to be the summer of '69. I came out earlier that year on a train going down to Southern Illinois University. On the train I met some people I knew from the same dormitory, and one of them pulled out a porn magazine. Needless to say I got instantly hard and everybody said, 'Oh yeah, you're gay.' I kind of knew I was gay already, but I didn't know there was a whole world of people out there."

The Annex, Ruthie's ...

"The Annex was a one-story, storefront bar, and I think the bar was oval-shaped, with a lot of mirrors. Just about everybody went to that bar. It was like a neighborhood bar, with kids just like me.

"I do remember the first time going into Ruthie's; I was 19 and we could drink wine and beer at the time, and I walked into Ruthie's and I was scared as shit. It was one of the first times I was in a gay bar by myself, and the bartender smiled and said something ... I can't remember exactly what he said ... but he bought me a beer. That was the first time anyone had bought a beer for me, and I was blown away by it.

"I found out much later that that bartender was Eddie Dugan, who later went on to open the Bistro. He was the bartender at Ruthie's at the time. I remember one time, up in Madison, Wisc., at an after-hours party at Rod's, telling Eddie this story. He was just hysterical. He said 'I don't remember doing that,' and I said, 'Well you did, and it made a big impact on me.'"

Leather community ...

"In December 1976 I was at the bathhouse and I met Jack Sitar, who was a member of Renslow's family. He lived with Chuck in the mansion. So I was in the bathhouse and someone had stolen my towel in the steamroom, and left me with this drippy one. Jack worked behind the front desk, so I covered myself with this wet towel and asked him for a new one. He told me I could have another one if I stepped back two paces and turned around. Then he gave him a clean towel.

"So we started talking and I met him in a room after he got off work. That started a little love relationship and as we started dating more, I got invited over to visit the mansion and meet Chuck and Dom ( Orejudos.—the artist Etienne ) . That's how I got introduced to the whole leather scene.

"Dom was one of the sweetest, gentlest men I've ever met, and he had lots of stories about things that went on in the '50s and '60s. He was an amazing person."

The Gold Coast ...

"It was Jack who first took me to the Gold Coast and I remember that I was very leery about what was going on there. We went down into the basement and in the back of the bar was the grease pit, back in the catacombs, and I remember someone kneeling on the bar with somebody's hand in their butt, and my first impression was, 'Oh my god!' I didn't even know what fisting was at the time, and it totally blew me away."

Hellfire Club ...

"I was never a member of the Hellfire Club, but I knew people who were, from the days when I was manager of the Gold Coast, that was '81 thru '84. Hellfire held their meetings in the Gold Coast.

"I do remember going to the Hellfire Inferno, I think it was the 12th one, and that was when Gary Chichester was a bartender at the Gold Coast, and I was the manager. The bar sponsored the opening cocktail party at the 12th Hellfire Inferno and we went along as bartenders and stayed overnight. That's when I met this man from Texas who had a wonderful drawl, just the way he called me 'Boy' made me melt.

"It was a Saturday morning, and we were supposed to pack up and go back to Chicago. I asked the guys at Hellfire if they had any spare room, and if I paid for it was there any way I could stay. They said yes, but then I had to clear it with the boss, so I walked up to Renslow and said, 'Gee Daddy, is it possible for me to stay and not go back to work?' He said, 'Are you having fun?' I turned around, dropped my drawers, and showed him my butt, which probably looked like minced meat at the time. He said, 'Yep! you're having fun, you can stay.' And so I did."

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 Windy City Times. You can leave a message on his voicemail at 773-871-7610. E-mail

What A Difference

A Gay Makes

Nov. 18-24


U.S.: In Fairfax, Va., concerned that a gay student center would flout the state's anti-sodomy law, George Mason University abandons the $15,000 project. The state-funded university's board of visitors voted 6-5 against hiring a part-time staffer to run the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Resource Center. * In Detroit, Sean McBride, 28, a gay man paralyzed in a gay-bashing attack as a security guard stood by wins a $10 million judgment from Pinkerton's Security and Investigation, the guard's employer. McBride was shot six times and beaten outside his apartment building in January 1994 by three men who had taunted him for being gay. His lawyer, Carol McNeilage, said the 20-year-old female security guard watched as McBride was harassed several times during a half-hour period, and even laughed at some of the insults. * Author Elinor Burkett, in her book The Gravest Show On Earth: America In The Age Of AIDS, is scathing in her criticism of all the major players in the AIDS crisis, including politicians, the scientists, the drug companies, the gay activists, and the Black community. * Britain: John Vassall, the gay, high-living, low-level British Admiralty clerk whose exposure as a Soviet spy in 1962 created the first of the sex scandals that helped end the political career of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, dies in London at age 71.


U.S.: Cracker Barrel Old Country stores begins a counter-offensive against gay organizations protesting its alleged discriminatory practices. The company prevents gay activists who own stock in the company from attending the annual stockholder's meeting and it sues activists who have criticized the restaurant chain's firing of gay employees. * The New York City Human Rights Commission investigates allegations that Delta Airlines asked prospective employees questions regarding marital status, sexual orientation, health status, and applicants' views on issues including birth control and abortion. * In Tampa, Fla., Monsignor Norman Balthazar, an anti-gay Catholic priest, is arrested for soliciting oral sex from a police officer. * Martina Navratilova commenting on media sympathy for Magic Johnson's HIV status, says: "There have been other athletes who died from AIDS, and they were pushed aside because they either got it from drugs or they were gay." * In Michigan, the Ann Arbor City Council passes an ordinance permitting lesbian and gay couples to register as domestic partners. * Judge Saundra Armstrong, a U.S. District Court Judge, permits the filing of a class-action lawsuit against the FBI by Frank Buttino, a former agent fired because he is gay.


U.S.: The mother of Designing Women creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason dies from AIDS. * The 2nd annual National Conference of Lesbian and Gay Elected and Appointed Officials and Prospective Candidates is held in Washington, D.C. * In Iowa City, the first Harvey Milk Week takes place in Iowa. Events include a showing of the film The Life and Times of Harvey Milk. * New York's Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center announces the appointment of Richard Burns as executive director.


U.S.: For the 10th time in a decade, the New York City Council refuses to pass a city ordinance prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians. * Atlas Savings and Loan, the nation's first gay-owned bank, opens at Market and 14th St. in San Francisco. * In Washington, D.C., male prostitutes are used to gather information about homosexuals in the U.S. government and military, a "call boy" tells NBC News. The news report claims that Soviet KGB and foreign intelligence sources are very active in using male prostitutes as agents.

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