1950s-1960s: Chicago’s Homophile Organizations

In 1954, the Chicago Area Council of the Mattachine Society was the first the Mattachine Society to be established outside of California. The Chicago Mattachine held public discussion meetings in gay friendly hotel meeting rooms, with about 40 people at each meeting.


July 1954


August 1954

In 1957, The Chicago Mattachine printed a legal rights pamphlet by Pearl Hart. Later in 1957, it disbanded after a primary leader moved away and numbers dwindled. Another chapter was restarted in 1959. It continued the practice of having speakers and had a circulating library of 150 books. The Mattachine Society dissolved its national structure in 1961, and by 1962, the Chicago chapter had fissiled out.


Pearl Hart


Mattachine Midwest was founded in 1965 in response to a raid on the Fun Lounge, a popular gay and lesbian bar near O’Hare Airport. Mattachine Midwest reignited the activities and the people involved in the earlier Chicago Mattachine Societies. While Mattachine Societies generally had a non-confrontational approach of education and seeking changes of perspectives and acceptance of medical professionals, Mattachine Midwest additionally took on political causes and the issue of police harassment.

August 1965

MM newsletter.jpg

September 1966

In the Gay Liberation era of the 1970s, the relationship between direct-action gay liberation groups and Mattachine Midwest could be rocky. However unlike homophile groups in other cities, Mattachine Midwest worked with the gay liberation groups. The Mattachine Midwest Newsletter carried information about Chicago gay liberation events. In the late 1970s, Mattachine Midwest developed into a social services and social organization. Mattachine Midwest continued operation throughout the gay liberation era. Not disbanding until 1986, it outlasted gay liberation organizations by more than a decade.