Queer Legacies: Stories from Chicago's LGBTQ Archives

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The variety of LGBTQ life in Chicago is too abundant and too diverse to be contained in a single place. But since 1981, the Gerber/Hart Library and Archives has striven to do just that, amassing a wealth of records related to the city's gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified people and organizations. In Queer Legacies, John D'Emilio--a pioneering scholar in the field--digs deep into Gerber/Hart's collection to unearth a kaleidoscopic look at the communities built by generations of LGBTQ people. Excavated from one of the country's most important, yet overlooked, LGBTQ archives, D'Emilio's entertaining and enthusiastic essays range in focus from politics and culture to social life, academia, and religion. He gives readers an inclusive and personal look at fifty years of a national fight for visibility, recognition, and equality led by LGBTQ Americans who, quite literally, made history. In these troubled times, it will surely inspire a new generation of scholars and activists.

About the Author

John D'Emilio is professor emeritus of history and gender and women's studies at University of Illinois at Chicago. A Guggenheim Fellow and a pioneer in the field of gay and lesbian studies, he is the author, coauthor, or editor of numerous books, including Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities and Intimate Matters, which was cited in Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court case overturning US anti-sodomy laws. Both are published by the University of Chicago Press.

"Reading Queer Legacies is like sitting across the dinner table, spellbound, as D'Emilio spins a tapestry of queer life in Chicago. By the time dessert arrives, you've not only learned a lot of history, but also what it's like to find moving and shocking surprises in dusty archive boxes. D'Emilio has once again worked his magic."-- "Leila Rupp, author of A Desired Past: A Short History of Same-Sex Love in America" "A wonderfully evocative book and an unparalleled look at Chicago's LGBTQ past. Full of fascinating stories, Queer Legacies gives us a front-row seat to over fifty years of community building and activism."-- "David K. Johnson, author of The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government" "D'Emilio is a true master of the archive and a writer who brings the past to life as few others do. This guide to Chicago's queer activist past is a new kind of community history, one that illustrates the possibilities of the historian's craft and, at the same time, provides a valuable and vibrant guide to one of our most important LGBTQ collections."-- "Claire Potter, author of Political Junkies: From Talk Radio to Twitter, How Alternative Media Hooked Us on Politics and Broke Our Democracy" "Informative and plainspoken. . . Makes a convincing case for the power of storytelling to build communities and movements, and the importance of archival records in preserving 'a proud heritage of resistance.' This sparkling account has much to offer LGBTQ historians and activists."-- "Publishers Weekly" "Queer Legacies offers an inspiring overview of individual perseverance, poignant losses, and stirring collective gains. . . . As much a work of love - D'Emilio's passion for prowling through the Gerber-Hart Archives and the countless stories they contain is palpable - as it is a work of history. . . . Now Chicago can boast a worthy addition to the growing body of place-based queer histories."-- "PopMatters" "D'Emilio is an award-winning author and University of Illinois at Chicago professor emeritus who has researched LGBTQ+ history for decades. In Queer Legacies, he turns his focus on stories from the Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, Chicago's repository for queer history. . . . These inquiries highlight the diversity of activism and experience and are grouped by such themes as religion, lesbian history, and AIDS activism. D'Emilio doesn't shy away from the passion of short-lived ventures or the ideological conflicts that caused the demise of activist groups."-- "Booklist" "It wouldn't be completely wrong to describe Queer Legacies as the closest thing to the Pride Parade we'll get this year. . . . Like the physical parade, the book has a bit of everything. . . . As a scholar, D'Emilio has turned archives into allies, expanding a community's understanding of itself and its commitments." -- "Third Coast Review" "Recommended. . . Rather than offering just biographical sketches of queer activists in the Windy City, however, the majority of the 38 chapters outline the sheer variety of groups active in promoting civil rights and social acceptance for LGBTQ people, primarily during and after the history-making 1969 Stonewall Riots and until the AIDS crisis of the 1980s."-- "Choice" "As entertaining as it is intellectually stimulating. . . . The book rewards its readers with a wealth of details and surprising insights."-- "Soziopolis"

Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Pub date: October 28, 2020
272 pages
Format: Paperback