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.
While Chicago has the reputation as one of the most segregated cities in the country, the drag scene in Chicago has always held within it a diversity of performance and style. From anarchists and vaudeville queens at the Dil Pickle Club and the legendary Finnie’s Balls to the racially integrated club scenes of the 1960’s to the rise of the Miss Continental competition in the 1980’s and into the vibrant scene of today. The exhibit chronicles the drag scene through photographs, newspaper articles and performance attire. Chicago is the city that works, because Chicago is the city that werqs.The exhibit runs through October 2019 in the Howard Brown Health Clark Waiting Room.
The exhibit highlights a selection of zines. The exhibit runs through October 2019 in the library reading room.
LGBTQ Slogan and AIDS-Themed Pins
On display in the Walgreens Pharmacy waiting room a selection of pins that include lesbian-themed, political issues and general slogans pins. AIDS-themed pins include Silence=Death pins in English, Spanish, French, Russian and Hindi, pins promoting safe sex, the Names Project, and Chicago organizations..
The exhibit run through November 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.