Timothy Stewart-Winter goes Beyond Stonewall

In his article in Slate, Queer Newark’s own Professor Timothy Stewart-Winter asks, “How does gay history look different when we examine it in a city not strongly associated with homosexuality?”

He writes,

“In 1970, gay activists in Chicago achieved a surprising victory. They successfully pressured the owners of the city’s biggest gay bars to drop their policy of throwing out any same-sex couple that danced together. And they couldn’t have done it without a little help from the Black Muslims—or at least their insurance agent.

Just boycott the gays bars for one night, the activists urged their fellow citizens. “Come to the Liberation Dance at the Coliseum and see what it’s like to do your thing in public,” read the flyers. It was a bold strategy, but there was a problem: The venue required an insurance policy, and every insurance agent the organizers approached said the risk was too great that the police would raid the dance, cart the attendees off to jail, and levy fines. Only on the day before the dance did the activists find a broker who’d sell them a policy—a black man whose company had insured the Nation of Islam’s annual convention at the same venue several weeks earlier.

In my work as an historian of gay American life, nothing I had read about gay liberation prepared me for this story.”

To read the rest of his article on Slate, click HERE

Timothy Stewart-Winter also has a new book on Amazon: Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics (Politics and Culture in Modern America)


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