Chicago Gay Libration Publications

With mostly inadequate or unfavorable news coverage in the mainstream press, gay and lesbian people needed their own voice. While some lesbian and gay publications already existed, including locally the Mattachine Midwest Newsletter, and nationally The Ladder by the Daughters of Bilitis, ONE and The Advocate, the “newly visible minority” living in 1970s  "Gay Liberation" age needed publications that reflected new attitudes and ways of living. These new publications provided a new platform for gay and lesbian people to find out about new organizations, demonstrations, protests, and resources. They helped to inform newly emboldened gay and lesbian people in Chicago.

Lavender Woman publish 26 issues between Novmember 1971 and July 1976. While Chicago-focused, it had national circulation. The publication made use of first-person writing and political philosophy to address issues affecting lesbians, including coming out and sexism, as well as larger discussions around race and feminism.

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The design of Killer Dyke was based on the Chicago countercultural newspaper The Seed. In 1971 a group of students at Northeastern Illinois University calling themselves the Feminist Lesbian Intergalactic Party, or “Flippies” created the paper. As described in an ad published in The Seed, the Flippies were “a female nationalist, gay nationalist political party that works for the overthrow of everything in society that oppresses women and gay people (namely everything).” Three issuse are know to have been published.

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Founded by Michael Bergeron and Bill Kelley, the Chicago Gay Crusader ran from May 1973 through April 1976 and included coverage of both men and women through news, interviews, features, entertainment, photos, and more, as well as reports of deaths. Its most memorable headline appeared in the January 1974 issue following the American Psychiatric Association’s decision to remove homosexuality from the “illness” category. It read: “20,000,000 Gay People Cured!”

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Introduced in 1975, Blazing Star grew out of the lesbian group within the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union. Blazing Star was published with a definitive socialist and feminist political ideology. The publication changed formats a over time before merging into GayLife in 1980.

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After the Chicago Gay Crusader folded in 1976, GayLife took up the mantle as Chicago’s main gay and lesbian newspaper. Founded by Grant Ford and Abe Olivio in June 1975, it was later sold to entrepreneur Chuck Renslow, who took an ownership stake in 1979. It covered all aspects of Chicago gay and lesbian life. Although criticized for its graphic male-centric ads, the publication was reputable for covering both men and women. GayLife became a critical source of information regarding the AIDS pandemic of the early 1980s.

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