A HISTORY OF LGBT CHICAGO BEFORE STONEWALL
Chicago Whispers illuminates a colorful and vibrant record of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people who lived and loved in Chicago from the city’s beginnings in the 1670s as a fur-trading post to the end of the 1960s. Journalist St. Sukie de la Croix, drawing on years of archival research and personal interviews, reclaims Chicago’s LGBT past that had been forgotten, suppressed, or overlooked.
Included here are Jane Addams, the pioneer of American social work; blues legend Ma Rainey, who recorded “Sissy Blues” in Chicago in 1926; commercial artist J. C. Leyendecker, who used his lover as the model for “The Arrow Collar Man” advertisements; and celebrated playwright Lorraine Hansberry, author of A Raisin in the Sun. Here, too, are accounts of vice dens during the Civil War and classy gentlemen’s clubs; the wild and gaudy First Ward Ball that was held annually from 1896 to 1908; gender-crossing performers in cabarets and at carnival sideshows; rights activists like Henry Gerber in the 1920s; authors of lesbian pulp novels and publishers of “physique magazines”; and evidence of thousands of nameless queer Chicagoans who worked as artists and musicians, in the factories, offices, and shops, at theaters and in hotels. Chicago Whispers offers a diverse collection of alternately hip and heart-wrenching accounts that crackle with vitality.
Chicago Whispers is available in online and in bookshops everywhere, Below are links to purchase your copy from Amazon and Barnes & Noble
The Blue Spong
AND THE FLIGHT FROM MEDIOCRITY
The year is 1924 and has something gone amiss at the Chicago home of the Clam Sisters? When one purchases a rare blue spong from a songbird dealer, the aristocratic sisters and their staff find themselves exposed to a flying koan, provoking them to cast off their commonplace mores, their staid lives, for something altogether bold and ribald. Chinese tongs, vaudeville shows, fraudulent spiritualists…De la Croix’s newest book is a humorous historical fantasy that showcases the follies of heteronormative, misogynistic, repressive life.
New Titles Available from Rattling Good Yarns Press
Tell Me About It 2
LGBTQ Secrets, Confessions, and Life Stories
We all have stories — sometimes poignant, sometimes entertaining, and usually quite interesting. As historians of LGBTQ life, St Sukie de la Croix and Owen Keehnen, have been recording and collecting the memories, personal experiences, and anecdotes of queer folks for decades. The Tell Me About It series is an extension of their ongoing work.The Tell Me About It series sheds light on the lives, the circumstances, and the reality of LGBTQ people through the sharing of personal anecdotes in response to a series of questions. The results are a prime example of the power and the connection that comes from sharing our stories.Like its predecessor, Tell Me About It 2 is full of moving, horrendous, hilarious, and thought-provoking answers by LGBTQ people from across the country and around the globe, capturing a variety of experience, yet often revealing more profound similarities. Tell Me About It 2 offers glimpses of what makes us different, who we are, what we share, and where we fit in.
My Life in Chicago's Volatile LGBTQ Press
Paper Cuts: My Life in Chicago’s Volatile LGBTQ Press is the story of Rick Karlin’s life writing for Chicago’s newspapers, balancing that with his family life outside of it. Joining the staff at GayLife in 1978 gave Karlin a front- row seat at some of the momentous events in post-Stonewall LGBTQ history. From the privileged vantage point of a newspaper office, he watched the rise and fall of disco, the AIDS crisis, same sex marriage, bars opening and closing, and LGBTQ newspapers coming and going. Like gossip columnists, Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, Karlin knew the dirt going on behind the scenes. … Scratch the veneer of what Karlin calls his “celebrity” and you will find a man of conviction, morals, and a keen sense of community. In short, Rick Karlin is a jewel in the crown of Chicago’s LGBTQ press. In 1978 he dived into a polluted pool and, holding his nose, swam in it for decades. And Chicago is all the better for it.
Other Titles Available from Rattling Good Yarns Press
St sukie's strange garden of woodland creatures
St Sukie’s Strange Garden of Woodland Creatures is a book for adults who never lost that childlike sense of wonderment. The book sits firmly in the tradition of Lewis Carroll, Alan Garner, Lord Dunsany, and other British authors who lived with the fairies, lemonade birds, and tequila bunnies. The book takes the reader on a journey through the imagination of St Sukie de la Croix, where nothing makes sense, and nothing ever will. If you wonder what happens when you throw a broken vacuum cleaner into a bottomless pit, or why American bald eagles wear such terrible wigs, then St Sukie’s Strange Garden of Woodland Creatures is the book for you. It begins when a very young St Sukie gets hired by three polar bears to become the Janitor of Lunacy in the garden of his own imagination. Every morning, St Sukie enters the secret garden to solve the problems of the woodland creatures who live there. Problems so peculiar in nature, they defy logic or anything resembling common sense. If you watch Fox News, wear Hush Puppies and cardigans, then you most likely won’t like this book. However, if you truly believe that hens can be beauticians, that meerkats fly spitfire planes, and penguins practice tai chi on beds of azaleas, then read on. You have nothing to lose but your mind.
Tell Me About It
LGBTQ Secrets, Confessions, and Life Stories
For centuries the voices of LGBTQ people have been silenced, unable to share their lives openly. The result has been widespread isolation, misunderstanding, and shame – often with dire consequences still felt today. Tell Me About It explores these lives and tells stories never fully shared.
In Tell Me About It, author/historians St Sukie de la Croix and Owen Keehnen asked a variety of individuals ten specific questions. Their frank, audacious, hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking responses will resonate with readers from all walks of life. They offer a glimpse into the individual life experiences that have quietly brought LGBTQ people together into a community. Through the voices of others, Tell Me About It reveals who we are, what we share, and why we must never allow ourselves to be silenced again.
Out of the underground
The Memoir of a Groucho Marxist
Homosexuals, The Radical Press, and the Rise and Fall of the Gay Liberation Front
Out of the Underground explores homosexuality in the radical press. It covers the rise and fall of the Gay Liberation Front in several cities, including Milwaukee, Atlanta, Austin, Detroit, San Jose, as well as gay metropolises like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Prior to a regular and reliable gay press, the only positive images of homosexuals appeared in the underground rags. In the turbulent 1960s, young gay men couldn’t relate to the stuffy newsletters of Mattachine-era groups. Young lesbians too were drawn to the direct action of the Radical Lesbians and Women’s Liberation Front, rather than the gab and java get-togethers of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB). Those young radicals were more likely to read the Great Speckled Bird, the Ann Arbor Argus, the San Francisco Oracle, the feminist It Ain’t Me Babe, and the anarchic Berkeley Tribe, than the Ladder, the DOB newsletter.
Out of the Underground is also about the culture, music, politics, and art, that radicalized young queers. Clearly, not all LGBTs were left-wing revolutionaries. Some were conservative and worked within established gay groups. The majority were deeply closeted.
This book isn’t about them.
The Memoir of a Groucho Marxist
A Very British Fairy Tale
On September 16, 1951, Darryl Michael Vincent, a fairy boy-child, fell out of a badger hole in Midford Woods. He grew up in a prefabricated house with his mother, Doreen, his father, Stanley, and a red butterfly called Karl Marx. He was born six years after World War II ended and the City of Bath in the West Country of England was still pockmarked with bombsites, the people bruised by the death of loved ones. Amidst the rubble, ration books, and despair, the fairy boy-child attempted to fit in. It soon became clear that Darryl Michael Vincent was not a regular boy-child. There was something different about him. Very, very, different. He was a Groucho Marxist.
As a Groucho Marxist, formal education was wasted on him. And so, Darryl Michael Vincent was educated in Midford Woods by fairies, the souls of homosexuals long gone from this mortal Earth. He opened books, dived into well-thumbed pages, and swam in a soup of words. In this woodland school, helped by psilocybin mushrooms and opium, he was taught by Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Rupert Brooke, and other occupants of Midford Woods.
Most important of all, Darryl Michael Vincent dipped the ruling class into bowls of custard and left them on the train track for the porcupine waitresses to laugh at.