Our exhibits are always free and open to the public. We graciously ask for a suggested $5 donation or a give-what-you-can to support our ongoing mission and free access to all.
Out of the Closets & into the Street: Power, Pride & Resistance in Chicago’s Gay Liberation Movement.
The 1969 riots that began at New York City’s historic Stonewall Inn are widely considered to be the catalyst for the nationwide gay liberation movement. But the landmark event initially went unnoticed in Chicago, where a convergence of increased police harassment and homophile activism had collided earlier at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, mobilizing the gay community. A younger generation of LGBTQ activists emerged and began demanding “liberation” from society’s oppression, and homophile organizations like Mattachine Midwest, Chicago’s authoritative voice of gay rights at the time, became seen as too closeted and conservative to lead the way. Throughout the 1970s, this new movement of gay liberation would propel the conversation of gay rights “out of the closets and into the streets.”
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, this exhibit traces the Gay Liberation Movement’s presence in Chicago from its beginnings in the late 1960s to the city’s first large gay rights protest in 1977 at the historic Medinah Temple in downtown River North. As new organizations and events sprouted up on college campuses and a rising number of lesbian and gay publications emerged, the voice of the movement and the LGBTQ community grew louder and more visible, producing a rich portrait of gay liberation in Chicago that survives today. This exhibit offers a closer look at the tools and organizers of the Gay Liberation Movement, providing a glimpse into the national issues that Chicago’s LGBTQ community faced and their intersection with other societal and cultural movements of the time.
The exhibit is in the Norman Sandfield Gallery and runs through September 2019.
When we think of LGBTQ activism in the United States we often think of the Stonewall Riots of 1969 as the spark that created a movement. In reality the events at the Stonewall Inn were an explosion of radical activism that has been building in the country since the 1920’s and had already become a national movement. These pre-Stonewall activism organizations are called homophile groups. The “Gay is Good” exhibit details the beginning of homophile movement in the US, its peak during the ECHO and NACHO conferences, and the eventual decline after the Stonewall Riots. The exhibit runs through June 2019 in the Howard Brown Health Clark Waiting Room.
SportsDykes & GirlJocks
The exhibit runs through July 2019 in the library reading room.
LGBTQ Slogan and Pride Parade Pins
On display in the Walgreens Pharmacy waiting area a selection of LGBTQ slogan and Pride Parade Pines. The oldest is the Freaking Fag Revolutionary pin that was made following the 1968 Democratic National Convention which was held in Chicago.
The exhibit run through July 2019.
Exhibits in Howard Brown waiting room and Walgreens are viewable during their open hours: Mon-Thur 9 am–6 pm, Fri 9 am–5 pm, and Sat 9 am–3 pm.