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Out and Proud in Chicago.

In 1961, Illinois became the first U.S. state to decriminalize consensual sodomy (in response to proposed changes in the Model Penal Code), owing largely to the efforts of a heterosexual lawyer whose law school roommate had committed suicide because he was gay. However, this unanticipated victory failed to help most GLB Chicagoans, who were unaware of this legal landmark. Even before that, in the 1930's, historian Ernest W. Burgess carried out "the country's first extensive research project into homosexuality." Chicago's other breakthroughs were relatively modest for the most part. In 1958, artists Chuck Renslow and Domingo Orejudos (a.k.a. "Etienne") established the first leather bar in the U.S., the Gold Coast, which continues to sponsor the International Mr. Leather contest each Memorial Day weekend. Chicago struggled to keep pace with some coastal cities in the early "homophile" days of the 1950's and 60's, when organizations like the Matta-chine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis were taking hold, until Mattachine Midwest finally took root in 1965. But if Chicago hasn't spearheaded the national political movement, it has been a hotbed of GLBT cultural and intellectual achievement: the city has been the home town of writers Jeannette Howard Foster, Lorraine Hans-berry, E. Lynn Harris, and Achy Obejas, all nationally recognized for their work. With Out and Proud in Chicago, editor Tracy Baim has assembled a beautifully lavish collection of stories, biographies, illustrations, and photographs about America's Second City. The book is valuable both for its pictorial materials and for its historical documentation.

Edited by Tracy Baim

Agate Surrey. 224 pages, $30.
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Title Annotation:BRIEFS; Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community
Author:Cain, Paul D.
Publication:The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2009
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