Quearborn & Perversion: An Early History of Lesbian & Gay Chicago | Chicago Reader

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As a participant in the first-ever gay pride march in 1970, I was one of many background sources interviewed by Ron Pajak as he assembled this 2008 documentary (in partnership with the Chicago History Museum). The title refers to the nickname given to Dearborn and Division when that intersection was the hub of Chicago’s gay nightlife in the 1950s and '60s, but Pajak covers a much longer historical arc, beginning in the 1920s, when a German immigrant to Chicago founded America's first gay rights group, and concluding in the early 1970s, when the city’s first gay community center opened in Old Town. Arguing that the personal is political, he focuses on the struggle for simple rights (same-sex dancing, cross-dressing, socializing in nightclubs without fear of harassment or extortion from mobsters or corrupt cops), though the film's scope widens enough to consider lesbian separatism and the split between the leftist Chicago Gay Liberation and the more moderate Chicago Gay Alliance.

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