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having an African-American lesbian Mayor is far better than not having an African-American lesbian

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news chicago pride parade stonewall sukie de la croix Gay Pride Parade 1970

There are many things that are given in Chicago; you will always find a nut job on the El – a mad woman wearing bunny slippers attempting an aria from Carmen or a drunk derelict man with his testicles hanging out of his shorts; unpredictable weather – rain, snow, and sunshine, all at the same time; zero parking; and arrogant, rude, snotty, and dismissive civil servants at the DMV.

They're given. For better or worse, that's what makes Chicago, Chicago. The city of big shoulders, Carl Sandburg called it. Hinky Dink Kenna put it more bluntly, Chicago is not for sissies ...he was wrong about that – Chicago is famous for its sissies.

What is not given is the headline, "Lori Lightfoot to become Chicago's first LGBT, black woman mayor." Like everyone else, I was "gobsmacked" when I read about Ms. Lightfoot. Of course, let's not be naive here, the fact that Ms. Lightfoot is an African-American lesbian, doesn't mean she will run the city any better than the last Mayor, Jewish American Princess and former ballerina Rahm Emmanuel. However, having an African-American lesbian Mayor is far better than not having an African-American lesbian Mayor. At the very least it signals HOPE. Now I read that Ms. Lightfoot is to be the Grand Marshall at this year's Chicago Gay Pride Parade, the 50th annual celebration of the Stonewall Riots. Of course, she's not the first gay African-American Mayor of Chicago to march in the Gay Pride Parade. However, she is the first OUT-GAY Mayor. Lightfoot is the latest in a long line of dynamic Chicago lesbians, including, Jane Addams, Lois Fuller, Margaret Anderson, and Pearl Hart.

There are many articles written about this 50th anniversary of what is considered to be the birth of the modern gay rights movement. And sadly, though not entirely unexpectedly, a lot of the articles are myth – fake news, if you'll pardon the expression. The waters of Stonewall are so muddied now, I've stopped reading articles about it. Everybody rioted that night, LGBT's, straight people, YIPPIES, hippies and street people. That great tedious debate over "Who threw the first stone?" The answer is, NOBODY KNOWS. "Who was put into the paddy wagon and fought back?" The answer is, NOBODY KNOWS. The current thought is that it was a woman. Most likely it wasn't. Newspaper reports at the time say it was a man, not a drag queen, a man. I won't name them for fear of reprisals, but the two famous drag queens that fought back ...one of them wasn't even in the bar that night. I hate it when history is rewritten. People want answers to questions, but it's a fact of life that NOT ALL QUESTIONS HAVE ANSWERS. It was a riot, it was chaos. I was once in an anti-Apartheid riot in London, and I can tell you from experience, adrenalin takes over and all you can remember afterwards is snapshots. But I digress, memories of the Stonewall Riots IS what they IS.

And so, when asked to write something for the 50th anniversary, I've decided to steer clear of the Riots themselves and focus on the first Pride Parades (1970) as they were reported in the mainstream press. In 1970, the Stonewall Riots were only celebrated in four cities: New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles held parades, and San Francisco celebrated with a Gay-In. To avoid mythologizing and rewriting our history, these are the articles that mainstream America read about the beginnings of our Gay Liberation.

- Sukie de la Croix, LGBT author and historian 

St. Sukie de la Croix and Owen Keehnen discuss their new oral history book, Tell Me About: LGBTQ Secrets, Confessions, and Life Stories at the news/business-map.cfm?id=6658969">Gerber/Hart Library (6500 N Clark St.) on Thursday, June 27, 6:30 p.m.

1970

NEW YORK (UPI)

Bright banners and bold slogans declaring pride in homosexuality marked a 3-mile march by 15,000 to 20,000 men and women.

The parade yesterday from Greenwich Village through midtown Manhattan to Central Park was the culmination of the "Gay Liberation Week," a series of celebrations designed to publicize the new militant fervor among homosexual organizations.

"Say it loud, gay is proud," chanted the marchers. Sunday strollers along 6th ave. generally regarded the display with a lack of enthusiasm.

SEVERAL SPECTATORS tried to disrupt the parade and many others shouted taunts, but three busloads of the Police Department's tactical patrol force kept the demonstration peaceful.

Individuals in the march said they were protesting societal pressures that often make it difficult for homosexuals to continue their way of life. One young man who gave only his forename, Robert, said, "We are tired of being treated like second-class citizens and outcasts." A woman who identified herself as a lesbian said, "We have the right to use our bodies the way we want."

Many marchers carried signs indicating their hometowns, an attempt to show how widespread homosexuality is in America. The places listed included Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, Richmond, Va., New Haven, Conn; and Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ).

MEMBERS OF such groups as the Gay Activists Alliance, the Gay Liberation Front, the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, the lesbian group, carried signs proclaiming "Gay Pride," "Smash Sexism" and "Free Oscar Wilde," a reference to the homosexual poet who died at the turn of the century. They held their silk banners, colored red, green, yellow and purple, high in the warm afternoon air during the uptown march.

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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

The Gay Blades

The unsuspecting heterosexual ponders the sign propped in the mirror behind the bar and scratches his perplexed head. The sign, easily read despite the enveloping smoke screen in the intimately-lighted premises, advises patrons: "No Dancing Allowed."

The pool table in the middle of the triangularly-shaped room, the tile floor, the glaring absence of women, all of these circumstances make the unsuspecting hetero wonder what the hell that sign is doing in a place like this.

The place is Danny's. It is the quintessence of gaiety in Greenwich Village, where gay – in its broadest and narrowest definitions – is the prevailing atmosphere.

Just down the block from Danny's is a lot of trucks used by warehouse operators. In the past, truck drivers frequented Danny's at lunchtime, their brawny arms reaching out to hoist boilermakers – whisky with a beer chaser.

The clientele is still strictly male, and perhaps an occasional boilermaker is still quaffed here. Mr. America biceps bulge from skimpy knits affected by many of Danny's habitués these days.

Being gay at Danny's is a continuing way of life rather than a transilient frame of mind. It is "the newest place," advises its business cards, on whose flip side there is a "trick sheet" which solicits such information as name, address and phone.

Danny's, doing business at the corner of Christopher and Greenwich Sts., is one of a growing number of bars catering to homosexuals, and unlike other all-male drinkeries, it is being left strictly alone by the incursive Women's Lib.

Gay bars were often the target of harassment by police responding to calls from segments of the citizenry whose morality precludes the existence of any set of values – social, sexual, political or otherwise – contrary to theirs.

"But there hasn't been a raid on a gay bar in five years," says Richard Leitsch of the Mattachine society, a homophile group. "The Court of Appeals saw to that, citing the First Amendment."

A couple of homosexual hangouts have run afoul of the law recently. The rap against them, however, had more to do with the hours they kept than the customers they drew. They were charged with operating after the legal closing time.

The accent at Danny's is on informality. Taking into consideration the radical changes in men's clothing and the screaming colors affected by men whose heterosexuality is hardly suspect, factors other than their plumage set Danny's regulars apart from drinkers elsewhere.

Just as virility manifests itself in diverse ways (the epitome being, of course, the ability to beat the stuffing out of someone else), there are varying degrees of homosexuality. In Danny's can be found the lisping, limp-wristed genus and the patrician looking chap in a seersucker who is cheating on his wife in a manner beyond her wildest suspicions. And all other physical and psychical gradations of homosexuality share bar space here.

Separated from its clinical aspects, the homo bar is not totally remote from other gin mills. The juke box blares constantly, lyrics reverberating off the walls in a jumble of unintelligible phrases. Scotch goes for a dollar and a quarter, beer brings a dollar and there is a constant search for a mate.

The eyes looking, sweeping the room, pausing to focus on one particularly desirable. They invite company.

While the Village has been the traditional meeting place for the gay set, homosexual colonies have developed elsewhere. Some such areas are known as the Swish Alps. Another – on Third Ave. in the 50s – is referred to by cognoscenti as Queen's Boulevard.

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ASSOCIATED PRESS [AP ignored the 1970 Chicago Pride Parade and the San Francisco Gay-In]

Homosexuals Hold Parades For Freedom

Homosexuals in New York and Hollywood have paraded to press demands for equal treatment with heterosexuals.

About 3,000 persons, members of homosexual and sexual freedom groups from the Northeast, marched from Greenwich Village to a Central Park "gay-in" Sunday, concluding a series of events called Gay Pride Week.

Meanwhile, in Hollywood, police estimated that 400 persons in various attires and accompanied by a makeshift float and a python, marched down Hollywood Boulevard. The event's sponsors said some 1,200 persons participated in the mile-long parade.

A NEW PRIDE

Michael Brown, 29, a founder of the Gay Liberation Front in New York, said, "We're probably the most harassed, persecuted minority group in history, but we'll never have the freedom and civil rights we deserve as human beings unless we stop hiding in closets and in the shelter of anonymity ...This march is an affirmation and declaration of our new pride."

In New York hundreds of spectators observed the demonstration.

The West Coast march was sponsored by a group called Christopher Street West. It is named after a clash last year between police and homosexuals who frequented a bar on Christopher street in New York.

The makeshift float depicted a homosexual nailed to a cross.

Some spectators of the Hollywood parade booed, made cat calls and wolf whistles, but others cheered and applauded. There was no violence

Gay is the term homosexuals use to describe themselves, and is juxtaposed with "straight," used to describe heterosexuals.

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CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Gay Liberation Stages March to Civic Center

Gay Pride week, sponsored by the Chicago Gay Liberation movement, was celebrated yesterday with speeches, dancing, and a march to the Civic center plaza.

The 150 participants listened to speeches at Washington square, Clark and Walton streets, before starting the march down Chicago avenue, Michigan Avenue, and Randolph street for more speeches at the plaza.

The activities ended with a chain dance around the Picasso statue as the marchers shouted, "Gay power to gay people."

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

INDEPENDENT (Long Beach, CA)

LOS ANGELES

500 Chant, Prance Through Hollywood in Gay Parade

About 500 chanting persons, accompanied by cars and makeshift floats, marched through Hollywood Sunday in a parade supporting laws more favorable to homosexuals.

Police estimated that about 4,000 spectators watched the marchers on Hollywood Boulevard as they chanted, "Two, four, six, eight – Gay is just as good as straight."

"Gay" is the term homosexuals use to describe themselves, and "straight" is used to describe heterosexuals. The march was sponsored by the Gay Liberation front, an association of various homosexual groups.

The event's sponsors disagreed sharply with police estimates, saying 1,000 persons took part and more than 25,000 looked on.

The Front was given permission to hold the march on Friday when superior Court Judge Richard Schauer ruled a $1,500 bond demanded by the Police Commission was illegal.

Policeman used walkie talkies to co-ordinate efforts and shift traffic away from the parade route.

It was not until after the parade was over that leaders of the march had a confrontation with law enforcement officers.

Troy D. Perry, the self-styled minister of the offbeat Metropilitan Community Church, was arrested along with other members of his "congregation" in the midst of a "celebration of fasting" at Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas Avenue.

Sgt. Stockdale said the arrests were made when the minister allegedly halted traffic to drum up more attention for the cause two hours after the parade had passed.

Meanwhile in New York, about 3,000 homosexuals marched From Greenwich Village to Central Park Sunday to demand equal rights with heterosexuals.

It was the climax of what its organizers called "Gay Pride Week." The week has featured demonstrations outside state and city offices to demand an end to alleged police harassment of homosexual meeting places and to what the homosexuals call "enticement" by police officers to commit illegal acts.

A spokesman for the Lavender Menace, a Lesbian branch of the Gay Liberation Front, said the movement was trying to avoid any untoward public disturbance.

Among those taking part were men in women's clothes described by the organizers spokesmen as detrimental to their efforts to gain social acceptance.

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