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.

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Scholar and poet Julie R. Enzer talks about lesbian archiving with the Poetry Foundation.

April is National Poetry Month. Check it: Adrienne Rich visited campus in 1991.

Source: University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf7-00547, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Hey look! It’s the year 2000 logo from one of the first Queers & Associates websites

(You know, from the time before facebook and tumblr?)

For more on finding queer history online, see Dan Royles’ post for ProfHacker: Researching the Recent Past Online.

In April 2008, Helenmary Sheridan wrote about the organization of the University of Chicago’s gay pride week. The first campus “Gay and Lesbian Awareness” weekend was held in 1977, the first such fortnight in 1984:

Thirty-eight years after Chicago’s first Gay Pride Parade in 1970, the University of Chicago finally has a pride festival to call its own. The two weeks of free daily events kick off with a satirical debate on straight marriage, continue with a panel discussion on gay themes and homoeroticism in comics (Batman and Robin come to mind), and end with a student drag revue, Genderfuck. “There won’t be all the nakedness of [Chicago Pride in] Boystown in June,” warns Sarah Bouchat, third-year undergraduate and festival coordinator, but she thinks it will be an important event for the university’s gay community nonetheless.

Read more here: "Are We Proud of Pride Week?" Chicago Weekly (April 16, 2008) 

Join the University of Chicago’s Women’s Theatre Group for “experimentation with gender roles!”

University of Chicago Office of Student Activities Records, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library via ‘On Equal Terms’: Educating Women at the University of Chicago (Chicago: University of Chicago Library, 2009).

Did you know that the men’s bathroom in the basement of Wieboldt Hall was once a cruising spot? The bathroom was even listed in gay travel guides during the 1970s (check them out at Special Collections Research Center!)

As a UChicago alum from the 1980’s described it:

It was this notorious spot for cruising… It got so crazy down there that there were times when people would be blocking the door, because…three or four guys would be looking in to watch what was going on and then there would be people on the stairs who were waiting to get in.

And it was just - it was pandemonium in there.


Rosentel, Kristofer. Wieboldt Basement Bathroom, 2013. Photograph.

Rosentel, Kristofer. Wieboldt Stall Graffiti, 2013. Photograph.

International Guild Guide, 1971, Gay Travel Guides, Volume 3, Special Collections
Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Alumni Interviews for “Queer Spaces at the U of C” course paper by Kristofer Rosentel. 2013.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
How's the queer community at UChicago?
uchicagolgbtqhistoryproject uchicagolgbtqhistoryproject Said:


Vast and magical. We have a tag.


Overseen in Crerar women’s bathroom.

We’re really into bathroom histories.

Breaking news: we made a mess of the office today.

Save the date! Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles, Past and Present: A Preview Exhibition opens May 15 at CSGS and will be on view through June 13.

Mary Dunlap, the first out lesbian lawyer to argue a gay rights case in front of the Supreme Court, speaks at the April 1987 Chicago Conference on Sexual Orientation and the Law.

The video of this conference, one of the first of its kind, and organized in response to anger over the Bowers v. Hardwick decision, is available at the Law School Library.