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chicago whispers/What A Difference A Gay Makes

This article shared 2432 times since Sun Aug 19, 2007
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chicago whispers

by Sukie de la Croix

Talking to Henry about the

Gold Coast ...

Anita Bryant demo at the Medinah Temple

"I went to that, and it's the only time I ever went to the Gold Coast in a suit and tie. I came directly from work. The demonstrators congregated at the Medinah Temple. They had parade marshals, among whom was Bob Maddox himself, and there was no trouble with the police. These guys had CB radios communicating amongst themselves and they kept the crowd very orderly, across the street from the Temple. They were very careful to make sure nothing went on that was bad.

"It was fun but I don't think it made a lot of difference at the time."

AA Meat Market ...

"A couple of times I rode on bar floats. I don't remember riding on a Gold Coast float, but the AA Meat Market float I rode on a couple of times. I may have done the Gold Coast but I don't remember. The AA Meat Market was almost like the Gold Coast, it was a leather bar, of course. It used to actually be a meat market and they bought, or acquired, the building. Frank ( Kellas...the last owner of the Gold Coast ) worked there. One of my favorite stories about that place is that they wouldn't let you in the back unless you were wearing leather or had your shirt off. So I was back there one night and this girl came back and took her shirt off. I went up to her and said, 'You've got more balls than most of the guys in this place.'

"By the time the AA Meat Market closed, it had fallen. The original owners, and I can't remember their names, moved down to Key West, Fla., and Pat bought it and it fell."

Redoubt ...

"I went across the street to the Redoubt from the Gold Coast every night after the Redoubt opened. They weren't open the first time I went to the Gold Coast. They had action in a little room down under the stairs. It was OK, but I still liked the Gold Coast better. The Gold Coast was my favorite bar that I've ever been to, and I've been to a lot of bars. I met Chuck ( Renslow ) at the Gold Coast, but I don't know when. He might remember me; he'd probably remember my face but not my name. When he sees me he says hello. I also knew him when he had the Center Stage. I joined but it was a dance bar, so I didn't think it was a fun place. I'm just not into dance bars."

Back it '65 ...

"It wasn't difficult for me being gay, because I wasn't going out much then, but if you were a person who went places, yes it could have been more difficult. You couldn't hold hands, etc., etc."

AIDS ...

"I first heard about AIDS in 1981, or '82, when it was the gay cancer. I kept track very closely when I started hearing about it, although I didn't know it was going to turn into the demon it has. My mother died in '79 and I was glad she died before this came out, so she wouldn't have to worry about things like that. Although, my dad lived through that era, of course, he died last year.

"At first you didn't know that it was something that would affect everybody and everything. It was just some strange disease that a few people had gotten. It was a year or two before the scope started becoming obvious."

Stonewall Riots ...

"I didn't know it when it happened, I heard about it in retrospect, as something that had happened that was important. At the time, no, I didn't read anything about it. I was just reading the normal Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, the straight press."

Porn in the '70s ...

"Another thing I miss about the '70s is text, I'm into text porn. The published novels were so good in those days, they could publish everything, which is not true anymore. You would have novels with snuff stories in them, and you don't find that anymore. I think it's partly political correctness, but much more I think it's some power structure saying, 'We will let you do this and we won't give you any trouble. Go further and we will cause trouble.'

"You could buy it then in bookstores, now you have to go on the Internet. I can remember buying those books in the Machine Shop, owned by Chuck Renslow, across the street from the Gold Coast, and it was run by Ira Jones. There was also the bookstore on Howard Street, where I lived in the early '70s, it was just a dirty book store there. They didn't have any booths, but the Machine Shop had booths. I have been in bookstores many times, but I have never been in the booths. I was looking for literature to read, not looking to get my nuts off. I'm into text porn. Have you been on the nifty sight? ... just text porn.

"I maybe spoke to Ira Jones once or twice, but I wasn't close to him. He wasn't my type. Very big guy. He was a founding member of Girth and Mirth. I'd guess he was 350lb. He was tall and he was wide."

Memory check: Howard St. Bookstore was located at 7614 N. Ashland, the original Machine Shop at 504 N. Clark St., and Ira Jones had a place called Ira's Male Box in the early '80s at 53 W. Hubbard, which was previously called the Locker, presumably adult book stores. Jones also founded the Chicago chapter of Girth and Mirth in May 1981, and was a co-founder of Mattachine Midwest in 1965.

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

Dec. 9-15


U.S.: In San Francisco, Boy Scouts officials quietly adopt a "don't ask, don't tell" gay policy that is more lenient than the BSA's national guidelines. The policy of the Bay Area Council of the Boy Scouts does not call for expulsion unless the Scout or leader engages in public homosexual conduct or advocacy. * In Potosi, Mo., Richard Zeitvogel, 40, is executed by injection for murdering a cellmate in 1984. Zeitvogel, who also had been sentenced to life in prison for fatally stabbing another inmate in 1981, strangled Gary Wayne Dew so he could join a gay lover on death row. * Brazil: In Brasilia, a Senate committee approves a measure that recognizes the union between gay couples. The measure allows gay couples to sign a contract of partnership giving them the right to file joint tax returns as well as grant inheritance and pension rights to the surviving partner should one of them die. Gay couples would not, however, be allowed to adopt children nor use one or the other's surname. * Sweden: The Swedish parliament vote to approve a government proposal to amend the nation's Aliens Act to include gays and lesbians as refugees deserving asylum.


U.S.: Washington, D.C., Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly appoints Karen Tramontano, an openly lesbian attorney, to serve as interim Chief of Staff while the regular staff chief is on medical leave. * Judge Oliver Gasch, a federal district court judge, upholds the military's ban on lesbian and gay soldiers saying that he's afraid gay soldiers will spread HIV and that straight soldiers will be "filled with embarrassment if they use the same bathroom as gays." The ruling comes in the case of Joseph Steffan, who in April 1988 was forced to resign from the U.S. Naval Academy only weeks before his graduation because he acknowledged his homosexuality.


U.S.: In Atlanta, police arrest Michael Terry, 26, who confesses to a string of six murders of gay men. Terry would position himself on the city street and wait for someone to come along and make him an offer of sex. After having sex with them he would stab or shoot them in the back of the head. * Callers via computer and modem to the Chicago Liberty Net, affiliated with the Aryan Nation Liberty Net, can choose to read "AIDS the New Black Death" and "We May Need To Round Them Up Soon," two anti-gay articles, as well as articles on the "heritage, culture and traditions of the white race." * Austin, Texas, passes an ordinance prohibiting discrimination against PWA's in employment, housing, business, medical care, and public services. * The Safe Sex is Great Sex t-shirts, with their chorus line of dancing condoms, are available from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. * The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt is in bookstores. * A Minneapolis judge strikes down the state's sodomy law. Hennepin County District Court Judge Pamela Alexander rules that the law, which applies to heterosexuals as well as gay people, violates the state constitution because it invades privacy and is overly broad. * The National Catholic Reporter, subtitled the Independent Catholic Newsweekly, runs an article about priests who have AIDS. * France: Russian dancer Serge Lifar, the last of Serge Diaghilev's lovers, dies in Paris at age 81.


U.S.: Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Julius Title rules in favor of tennis star Billie Jean King and orders the eviction of Marilyn Barnett, King's former lover, from a $500,000 beach house Barnett claimed King had promised her.

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