Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles

Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles: A LGBTQ History of the University of Chicago is a research project of the University of Chicago's Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality that documents the experiences of LGBTQ individuals and communities at the University from the early twentieth century through the present day.

With plans to collect approximately 100 oral history interviews from alumni, faculty, and staff, and to mine local and national archives for a campus exhibition in Spring 2015, students and faculty involved with this initiative are building on the Center's highly successful research project and publication "'On Equal Terms': Educating Women at the University of Chicago" which ran from 2004-09.

Over the next two years, we will use this space to share our findings and highlight the courses, programs, student work, and digital history stories associated with this research.

Image credit: Chicago Maroon collection, University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf7-03416-001, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Who We Follow

Save the Date!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

UChicago Gray Center Mellon fellows Chase Joynt and Professor Kristen Schilt host a day-long event on their project Reframing Agnes, an interdisciplinary investigation of the politics of transgender representation. With keynote speaker Kate Bornstein*.


The venerable AIDS activist group ACT UP NY, which pulled off spectacularly bold demonstrations in the late eighties and early nineties to force the government to speed up development of lifesaving HIV medications, held a reunion of sorts for its first wave of surviving members. (The group still exists, but in this age of effective HIV meds, its membership has been a modest few dozen folks for several years.) Organizers billed the party as a “don’t-call-it-a-reunion reunion.” Says one of them, Andrew Miler, “The idea of a reunion seemed a bit too varsity club for us. We were never known for our sentimentality.”

— Where Are They Now? ACT UP AIDS Activists 25 Years Later (via NYMag

New York Magazine interviewed ACT UP activists in New York for the organization’s 25th anniversary last year. Earlier interviews with ACT UP activists can be viewed on the website for UChicago alum Sarah Schulman’s (X ‘79) pioneering ACT UP Oral History Project.

Did you know Special Collections Research Center at Regenstein Library holds the ACT UP Chicago Records?


The early days in the fight for gay rights, 1971.

(Grey Villet—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Asker Anonymous Asks:
do you have any advice for an incoming trans grad student? this fall i'm going to start a. studying (something i really love), but also b. the transition process – i'm really excited for both, but i'm also really nervous!! :(
uchicagolgbtqhistoryproject uchicagolgbtqhistoryproject Said:


I think our friends over at uchicagolgbtqhistoryproject and uchicagolgbtq would have some advice for you!

Also, if you haven’t already, check out Center on Halsted in Lakeview/Boystown for resources and programming.

Readers, can you help?

On the academic side of things, we’re pretty happy to see transgender studies supported by faculty, staff, and students at the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.

5710 is a great resource for many grad students as well as undergrads.

The past academic year saw fantastic programming spearheaded by Sociology professor Kristen Schilt and Toronto-based multimedia artist Chase Joynt in coordination with the Gray Center for Arts & Inquiry interrogating trans identities.

Also see * gender neutral bathrooms * preferred name policy * student health and gender reassignment surgery policy*

Plus, we’re excited to plan campus programming in 2014-15 around our exhibit, Closeted Out in the Quadrangles: A LGBTQ History of the University of Chicago. (Stay tuned!)

Today in Chicago LGBTQ history: GLAAD Chicago praised the Chicago Tribune for portraying gay life minus “the distortion and lies brought forth by so many public and religious institutions and political leaders.”


Letter from Molly Melick to Howard Tyner, July 17, 1995 by Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Chicago, IL (GLAAD/Chicago) and Molly Melick in Tracy Baim Editorial Files via LGBT Thought and Culture database, Alexander Street Press.

Checking out the pulp fiction at Chicago’s awesome Leather Archives & Museum.

Do you follow the LA&M tumblr? [NSFW, depending on your W.]

We’re following the growth of local LGBT oral history projects, from Chicago to New York and San Francisco, and points in between.


Here are some reasons transcription matters to us - and why we’re so excited to be working with volunteers to make the many treasures in Smithsonian Institution collections more accessible and openly available:
  • Discovery: Transcription turns handwritten and typed documents into searchable and…

Transcription takes up a lot of our time, but we think it matters to making LGBTQ lives visible at the University of Chicago

Last year UChicago Magazine asked two alumni, one class of 1972, the other class of 2013:

L, G, B, T…Q?”

What was it like to be a gay student in the College 40 years ago? Kevin Burke, AB’72, PhD’99—Pierce Hall resident, anthropology major, and member of the University’s first gay student organization—shares his memories.