Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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Out & Proud in Chicago



"Out & Proud in Chicago" is the first television documentary to tell the history of Chicago's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens. Its timeline spans from the Civil War through present day. This parallel history of the city tells a story of invisibility, oppression, devastation, revolution and triumph.

Chicago's role in the national history of the LGBT movement is often overlooked. Yet major milestones include the country's first chartered gay rights organization (1924), the pushback that brought down Anita Bryant's national campaign of homophobia, and the creation of the one of the country's premier gay and lesbian community centers, the $20 million state-of-the-art Center on Halsted. "Out & Proud in Chicago" highlights these accomplishments as well as the stories previously untold or limited to examination by academia. These include the story of Jenny Hodgers, a cross-dressing Civil War hero who lived the majority of her adult life as a Albert Cashier, a reexamination of the guarded personal life of social activist and Nobel-prize winner Jane Addams and her Boston marriage, and the life and work of Tony Jackson, an openly gay African-American ragtime pianist.

Most significantly, "Out & Proud In Chicago" includes the stories of 20 LGBT Chicagoans, from ages 30 to 80, including men, women and transgender people. Their journey, from awareness of their sexuality and gender identity, to overcoming the challenges of coming out, to becoming leaders is the real story of the documentary.

WTTW Channel 11 made a major commitment to the making and airing of the 90-minute documentary and also to the LGBT community. Now, under the umbrella "Out & Proud In Chicago Presents," WTTW is continuing its commitment to the LGBT community with new documentaries such as "Schoolboy to Showgirl: The Alexandra Billings Story."

Some of the stories told in
Out & Proud in Chicago

Tony Jackson

...openly gay ragtime pianist performing in the city's southside theatres and clubs, whose original lyrics for his song Pretty Baby were about Jackson's lover.

Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap

...openly lesbian couple whose influential publication, The Little Review, brought the world the writings of Sherwood Anderson, T.S. Eliot, Ben Hecht, Ernest Hemingway and the notable anarchist and advocate of free love, Emma Goldman.

Danny Sotomayor and visual artist who grew up in poverty in Humboldt Park, was an outspoken member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT/UP), and died of AIDS shortly before his partner Scott McPherson, author of the play Marvin's Room.

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