David's Chicago Sexual Underground 09/21/22 & P(r)ick of the Week

gay Chicago history - BijouBlog
David's Chicago Sexual Underground header

Greetings P(r)icksters!

Been busy hosting a vaccine party every week at the bar on top of all our other parties. I keep getting thanked by guys passing through the vax line and felt I just had to explain why. So here's what I sent out to my Touché posting this week. I may have covered some this in a previous blog, but it is all part of my "
why."

We are continuing our drive to get folks vaccinated against monkeypox. We want all of you to be able to socialize, meet up and find a fuck buddy, enjoy some hot passionate sex and not end up with a case of this virus. Trust me, I have heard from many who contracted the virus, and the symptoms were PAINFUL.

You like a dick down your throat, up your butt, and guess what? That's where this virus ends up. Sure, they have presented photos on the news about sores on guys' hands, chests, feet or faces. Well, what they haven't shown you are the guys with pox sores inside their dicks, up their asses or down their throats. If we hadn't started pushing guys in our community to get vaxxed, a lot more of you could have experienced this. So, we urge you to keep it in your pants and changed up our video programming and party events at the bar to help you keep yourself in check.

AIDS came to town unannounced and spread quickly and decimated our leather community. We didn't know it was here, what caused it and had no vaccine to stop it.

Today, we know monkeypox is here, how it can spread, and we have a weapon to stop it: a 2-dose vaccine shot. I wish we had this when AIDS hit; I would have a lot more friends still with me. We can stop this now from becoming an ongoing threat, but you all have to get vaxxed to make that happen.

Here's a link to the Chicago Department of Public Health's dashboard for monkeypox. It is updated on Mondays and shows the number of cases falling dramatically. It also shows the number of people vaccinated so far. It is the second dose that I focus on, because it is the second dose that allows your body to develop immunity after a couple of weeks.

9,375 is the number of Chicagoans that have received a second dose as of Monday. 9,000+ folks are fully vaxxed. Out of how many gay men that live in this city? Just think for a moment - how many gay men are there just in Chicago? All of a sudden, 9,375 seems like a good start but way short of what may be needed to keep us from a resurgence of cases.

Let's not forget the guys coming to Chicago because they live in states that haven't done jackshit about monkeypox. I checked IDs last week during our Vax Party and I can state that about 1/2 of those in the bar that came for a shot were from out of town. Florida, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Texas were just some of the IDs I saw.

If these guys feel it is so important to travel this far for a shot (hopefully they had a couple more at the bar), then I would hold that all of you that live here in Chicago would feel just as strongly and make the effort to cross town if need be and get vaccinated.

We had a Pox Vax Party last night, Tuesday, September 20th, and the upcoming one is next week on Wednesday, September 28th. As we have been doing, doors open at 5pm with shots beginning at 6 pm. We start with 100 doses but have been averaging 120 or more these past few weeks. The vax teams leave with doses unused. So don't let the early days of long lines and limited vax shots deter you. You need not line up for hours, just get here by 9pm and get a shot.

We will be adding Vax Party dates in October. Our partners at Project WISH and Rush are lining up teams to provide the shots, and once I have those dates confirmed, we will post them.

Now as to WHY?

We have been thanked repeatedly the past couple of months for hosting these Vax Parties. As guys pass through the line, they let me know how much they appreciate our effort to care for our community. There's a very simple reason why we are doing this.

We are LEATHER.

Time for a little history lesson, sorry if this gets long. I came to Chicago in the mid-70s and began working at Touché shortly after it opened. Some of my early leather mentors were already in their 60s. Which meant they had participated in WWII, and they shared their experiences with me.

Before the World Wars of the last century, travel abroad was the luxury of the wealthy. The average guy lived in his town, worked there and most likely died in that same town. The thought of going to Europe or anywhere else in the world was an unlikely dream of some, but most others just lived their life where they were. You could have urges for men, but you either had to ignore them or on the "down-low."

Heading to Europe and other places to fight in either war allowed these servicemen a chance to broaden their view beyond our American shores. In particular, during WWII, these men experienced a lot more than what their hometowns had to offer. Food, for one, drink another and lifestyles even more. Far from home and expectations they may had lived under (get a job, get married, have a family), many got a chance to explore their sexual feelings.

One of my favorite photo books is At Ease: Navy Men of WWII. These guys were out at sea for months at a time. It is not hard to imagine that physical contact between them would become common. Not just sexual; lots of the photos show guys relaxing, just laying side by side, or in some contact with each other. As humans, we feel the need to touch others.

Naturally this lead some to sexual relations with other men; after all, these guys were in their early to mid-twenties and just as horny as you guys are today. It was just there, unmentioned and tolerated as a phase. But they got over it once they returned home to their girls or wives (supposedly).

One other thing men fighting abroad may have learned was riding motorcycles. It was quick method of communications within the services. A lot of servicemen would probably never have learned to ride if it wasn't for their time in the service.

So, when guys came home from WWII, some had experienced gay sex or at least developed an affinity to being with guys. The late 40s and 50s were not a time of accepting homosexuality. These guys had to live in their closets.

Which is where our leather community sprang from: those guys that had learned to ride while in the service and continued to ride when they got back. They met other guys that served and shared experiences. So, they would ride together, forming clubs with guys they could relate to, who shared their experiences. And sometimes, far from others, they would engage in man-on-man sex.

When I come to Chicago, we had a few gay bikers’ clubs. Others like myself that did not ride were drawn to the camaraderie, the friendship, the "family" of these clubs. Other leather clubs formed for those that did not ride but felt the kinship of leather.

You didn't just drop in, you had to be invited in. It was not that hard. These clubs hung out in bars like the old Gold Coast, The Redoubt, Snake Pit and eventually Touché. The back bar at Touché is called The Club Room and the walls are covered with the colors of the various clubs that have called Touché home or out of town clubs that we have supported over the years.

You could meet these leathermen and get to know them. If they felt you were their kind of guy, they would invite you to join them and once they felt you earned the right, they would present you with patches of their colors to wear on your leather.

As a member of one of these clubs, the other members were your brothers, your family. You take care of your family. If they needed a roof over their head, they bunked with you. If they were sick, you cared for them. Helped them find a job if needed. A lot of times it meant caring for those of other clubs, too. Being part of this community meant you would step up and take care of each other.

This is Touché’s 45th year. My 45th year as being part of Chicago’s leather community. And neither Touché nor I can stand by and do nothing when we have this threat to our community. Leather stepped up when AIDS hit in the 80s. Unfortunately, we lost a huge part of our leather community at that time. A lot of those club colors represent a whole group of 30-40 guys that were wiped out by AIDS. None of them are still with us, but we will never forget them.

Those of us that made it through AIDS were a part of the efforts to respond to AIDS. Just feeding folks brought us Open Hand. They made meals every day and delivered them to guys at home. Many early volunteers were leathermen and they still volunteer today through Open Hand's GroceryLand Pantry.

Being too sick to work and keep a roof over your head led to Chicago House. We raised money and bought a house, again led by a leatherman Thom Dombkowski. Now Chicago house provides roofs for PWAs across the city.

Figuring out what was causing this disease that was killing our community meant Howard Brown ramping up, from STD testing and treatment to research and healthcare, led by another leatherman, Harley McMillan.

The last couple of years brought us covid and we responded, urging all to take care, get tested, vaccinated and caring for those afflicted. Now we've got monkeypox. Just as we have in the past, we are doing what we can to take care of not just our family but our entire community. Because we are leather. It's not a fashion choice, it is how we define ourselves, the identity of the bar and how I see myself.

Whether you are leather or not, get the damn vaccine. Yes, case numbers have fallen, but it is still out there. If we just ignore, it will rear its ugly head again and we will be back to square one. The shots are free. We offer them every week. If you don't want to come here, can't get here, then get vaccinated wherever you are. Demand it. We did, and that is how we are able to host our Vax Parties week after week.

I want all my P(r)icksters out there to get vaccinated against monkeypox. You wouldn't be reading this unless you are a horny bastard, too. Let's keep this from going any further. While you wait for your second dose and immunity to develop, you can safely grab my P(r)ick this week and stay horny with me.

David

To order from Bijou, visit bijouworld.com, call 800-932-7111, or email bijou.orders@gmail.com

Prick of the Week header


Head Trips images
Head Trips (D00413) - On DVD and Streaming

Chain Reactions images
Chain Reactions (D00437) - On DVD and Streaming

Rate this blog entry:
1209 Hits
0 Comments

David's Chicago Sexual Underground 8/10/22 & P(r)ick of the Week

gay Chicago history - BijouBlog
David's Chicago Sexual Underground header

Greetings P(r)icksters!

Long time, I know. Haven’t fallen off the planet (yet), just an incredibly crazy spring and summer. Things have somewhat settled down, but I have branched out into a new focus.

Life got overwhelming in the spring. After two years of covid interruptions, we at Touché had planned to host our Mr. Chicago Leather contest in January. That was until omicron came along at the beginning of the year. So we postponed the contest to April.

In the intervening time, I had staffing issues, trying to bring on new staff while others came down with covid and/or had time off for vacations, etc. I spent several nights behind the bar and, a couple of times, just limited hours of operation based on who was available to work.

We hosted a huge, huge MCL contest weekend. While we did not sell out the contest, the bar was packed all weekend and I literally just stood by the bar and watched my crew frantically serve the crowd. It was almost like watching the numbers turn at Mc Donald’s (remember when they used to post number of burgers served?).

All this made me behind schedule in planning parties for Memorial Day weekend when Chicago hosts International Mr. Leather. We figured we would see a pent-up increase in folks wanting to get out after this event was put on hold for two years, too. It was just that!

I was just as frantic trying to line up events, porn stars, dancers and everything else that goes into a six-night run of parties. Not kidding, it was just on Friday the week before everything would kick off on the following Wednesday when I nailed down the last details.

Then we jumped right into Pride planning, including lining up our local clubs to host our leather & kink contingent in the parade. On the heels of the Pride parade, I was also putting together my family reunion back in Ohio over the 4th of July weekend.

Coming back after that is where I took on my new focus, namely monkeypox. After IML & Pride, cases began to take off here in Chicago and it was a scramble to get ahead of it.

I first reached out to Chicago’s Department of Public Health but could only get a “leave a message” response. I could not speak to an actual live person.

Then I reached out to Howard Brown Health Center, they have a clinic just a half block from Touché.

A little history here, Howard Brown was here back in the 1970’s when I first arrived in Chicago. Back then, their focus was on STDs. It was basically a doctor and a nurse in the basement of a church. You had a drippy dick, they’d swab it and give you a shot of penicillin. Gay sex was taboo, most guys didn’t want to go to a doctor who would want to know how you got gonorrhea in your ass. Howard Brown was gay providers taking care of our community discreetly. It was drop in, no appointments, no fees, simple. You needed care and they did it.

Then came HIV/AIDS in the early 80’s. Howard Brown ramped up their efforts to care for gay men in the early days of this disease as some mainstream healthcare was paranoid of this new and deadly unknown illness. In the early days, Howard Brown would line up a medical van to pull up in front of a bar to offer free STD tests and eventually HIV testing in the 80’s. Howard Brown went from a small group of volunteers to a full fledged health clinic. Still lots of volunteers but a growing staff of doctors, nurses and more.

Howard Brown secured federal grants to treat and develop research into HIV/AIDS and continues to play a pivotal role. As they succeeded in treating people with AIDS, they took a more traditional role of healthcare, primary care, women’s healthcare as agencies like the Lesbian Cancer Project were brought under its organization. Howard brown expanded from one clinic in the gay neighborhood to several spread across Chicago. Also, HB would develop connections with other healthcare businesses; you can find a Walgreen’s pharmacy in their clinics.

I thought after our early days of working with Howard Brown on STDs and then HIV/AIDS, they would be jumping on this latest health crisis centered on our community. My first call to the clinic by the bar should have been a indication. This poor kid answering the phone had no knowledge of Howard Brown’s history or mission. He just answers the phone at this health clinic.

Eventually I got a name and email address (not a phone number) and began trying to get something set up to help keep our customers and community safe. Several back and forth emails over a week led to an actual conversation on setting up vaccine events at Touché.

In the meantime, I was contacted by Project WISH at the University of Illinois Chicago about hosting vax events. In a couple of days, we set a day and time for our first Vax Party. Before this, the local bathhouse Steamworks had begun hosting vax events there in late June. This Project WISH would offer vax shots at the baths, usually 100 shots at a time and there was at least twice that number showing up.

Other than Steamworks and now us, folks were scrambling to find vax shots at their doctors’ offices, some city health clinics and hospitals to get vaccinated. Even Howard Brown was offering vaccines on an appointment basis, but they stipulated in the first few weeks that you had to be displaying symptoms to get a shot. As you might expect, it has been just nuts to get ahead of monkeypox. Guess we learned nothing from covid.

Anyway, Project WISH has hosted two vax nights already at the bar, with more to come every week. They run it pretty simple. Folks need to fill out a two-sided form, then line up for a shot. No restrictions on whether you live in Chicago, Illinois, whatever. Our first night was crazy; we planned to start at 9pm but when we opened at 5 that night, the bar filled quickly. (I had to scramble to get staff behind the bar and open the second room.) We learned right away to be ready.

Our second vax party was last Wednesday, and we began prepping right at 5 pm. Had to, as when I arrived at 1:30 that afternoon, there was a line outside. To make it run smooth, I stood outside when we opened and handed each person a numbered ticket and the form they needed to fill out. I was told we would get 140 vax shots that night and I handed out tickets to the first 140 in line.

Once folks got inside, they could mingle around and wait until their number was called. We tried our best to make it a party with music and drinks. Even the medical team administering the shots enjoyed the night. It took them about 90 minutes to jab all 140 doses into arms. They’ll be back today, Wednesday the 11th, with hopefully 200 doses, and back again this Thursday the 11th.

Knowing monkeypox spreads by close extended physical contact, we’ve encouraged guys to slow down at the bar. We stopped showing porn on our screens and backed off some promotions that may entice guys to get touchy feely. It has hit us in the pocketbook, but we survived AIDS and now covid. We’ll keep working to get folks vaccinated and put this pox crap down. It may take a bit more time than we hope, but we can do it. Besides, we still have covid to contend with as well. Guess you can call me Dr. David now.

I’ll be back soon, as our Pride was fun and I have stuff from that to share. First, I’m going to get another round of vax parties lined up and set a couple of days aside to go rider some roller coasters.

Take care, get your vaccines for covid and monkeypox. If you have to quarantine or just hold back till we get the pox vax out, you can still grab my P(r)ick and enjoy yourself. Here’s a couple of fun choices for you to consider.

David

To order from Bijou, visit bijouworld.com, call 800-932-7111, or email bijou.orders@gmail.com

Prick of the Week header - images from M.A.G.I.C.

M.A.G.I.C. images
M.A.G.I.C. (D01681) - On DVD and Streaming

Inches images
Inches (D00044) - On DVD and Streaming
 

Rate this blog entry:
697 Hits
0 Comments

P(r)ick of the Week - 5/20/20

David's Chicago Sexual Underground header

 

Greetings P(r)icksters!

Really in a weird space this week. We should be gearing up for 6 big crazy nights for the coming Memorial Day weekend. But we are still shuttered here in Chicago.

For the past 40 years, the International Mr Leather Contest took over our Memorial Day weekend bringing 1,000s of visitors to town. Which made us very busy at Touché with parties night after night and several afternoon functions, too.

We would begin with a welcome party on the Wednesday before the weekend as all the IML contestants, most vendors and others arrived early to prepare for the weekend. Then it was Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights going strong. By Memorial Day many would be departing Chicago, but we still had great crowds that afternoon for our big cookout and even into the night on Memorial Day.

I will miss many friends this year, the guys from Off Ramp Leathers, friends from other bars that have contestants at IML and many others won’t be visiting Chicago this week. For the first time in years, I’ll have Memorial Day off.

In the beginning IML was not this weekend. The first couple of years it was held over Mother's Day Weekend. IML began as a bar event. Chuck Renslow, owner of the Gold Coast, came up with the idea of a Mister contest for Leathermen.

Back in the mid 1970s before IML started, Chicago bars hosted Mister contests as a way to attract a crowd. The old Gay Chicago Magazine helped develop this promotion of Mister contests by hosting the Mr Windy City Contest each spring. During the winter months, various bars would host a contest to select their Mr, who would then go on to compete for the title of Mr Windy City. During my tenure as manager of the old Carol’s Speakeasy in the 80’s (that was next door to the Bijou Theater), I had 2 Mr Carol’s that won the Mr Windy City title.

Seeing the success of this program, Renslow took that idea and morphed it into a leather titleholder contest. Since you only had 3 or 4 leather bars in Chicago, he made it an international competition to allow for more contestants.

In 1979, Touché was also part of Chicago’s leather bar scene, so Chuck Renslow approached Chuck Rodocker, owner of Touché, to team up and sponsor the contest. Basically the contest was held on one night with bar parties at both places Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Back then, Touché only had a 2 am license while the Gold Coast had a 4 am license. Things started at one bar and then continued at the other.

Being 1979, gay events out in public were still rare; not many places were comfortable having a bunch of queers in their place of business, it would scare off the straights. So there was no host hotel, no big dances in ballrooms, no big display of leather gear and sex toys in convention halls. The early weekend was basically cocktail parties at the bars and fuck parties at the baths (Chuck Renslow also owned Man’s Country).

But as a big advocate of his hometown, my boss Chuck Rodocker (no opportunity to shorten reference to either man, they were both Chuck R, both owners of a leather bar, people still get confused between the two of them) had the staff of Touché host some daytime excursions to add to the weekend activities. We did bus tours around town (have you ever tried to mix drinks on a moving vehicle?).

The logic back then was that Touché closed at 2 am (3 am on Saturday) while the Gold Coast was open till 4 or 5 am. The Touché staff had time for more rest to get back out and going early the next day. The problem with this was that while we may have closed earlier, that didn’t mean we would not wind up at the Gold Coast to enjoy the party there and end up closing that bar, too.

So hungover or still up after fucking some of the visiting leathermen, we would be out there herding folks onto a bus or serving up bloody marys while a local leather club or group of clubs prepared a breakfast buffet of some kind. It was a more intimate weekend than it has become.

As I stated, IML was first held on Mother's Day weekend. Again, you have to visualize Chicago in 1979. White flight had left the city pretty vacant around what we call River North today. The Gold Coast and many other gay bars were in the area, the rest old warehouses, business places that were deserted nights and weekends.

Except...... across the street from the Gold Coast was a renowned restaurant, Gordan’s, that hosted a big Mother's Day brunch every year. Folks would line up outside for the opportunity to treat dear old Mom to a nice brunch. And there we’d be in full leather gear piling guys onto buses, drinks in hand. It was quite a show and I loved being part of it.

And once the IML weekend was over, we still had Memorial Day weekend to kick off summer, just not as crazy as it has been these past few years. I’m going to have to figure out what to do with a long weekend of nothing. Kind of hard, as we have already gone over two months without something, anything. Just hoping I don’t get too comfortable with this, hope to be “back in the saddle” again next May.

So while I ponder my Memorial Day weekend plans, grab my P(r)ick this week with a nod to the men in uniforms - soldiers, sailors and marines - and wave your flags.

My first P(r)ick is A Few Good Men directed by Steve Scott. Released in 1983, this is definitely one of the best grunts fuck films of all time. The Philadelphia Gay News raved about the film on its release, "this gay sex film wins the prize for best treatment of two common gay porn themes: the repressed sexuality of an all-male military setting [including authentic costumes and underwear] and the thin line between fantasy and reality. Scott's style is at its most poetic, in both image and sound."

For a second helping check out Seamen directed by Matt Sterling for Brentwood Studios. Its four pre-condom episodes play with the theme of sailors on leave. There's a good deal of spanking, armpit and foot licking and hearty oral and anal sex. The actors' eager performances ought to get you drop-dead horny.

Before I go this week, I do want to assure you that I do get your comments about my writings for Bijou Video, even if it makes you feel some guy from a porn site is smarter than you. I’m not that smart, just curious to learn more. Thanks for the many compliments, responses to my thoughts and letting me know that you enjoy reading these blogs. I get a kick out of writing them and hearing what you have to say..

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and stay safe, my friends.


David

To order from Bijou, visit bijouworld.com, call 800-932-7111, or email bijou.orders@gmail.com

 

A Few Good Men images
A Few Good Men (D00316) - On DVD and Streaming

Seamen images
Seamen (D00228) - On DVD and Streaming
Rate this blog entry:
1230 Hits
0 Comments

The Legacy of Forest View Lounge

posted by Madame Bubby

Last week I wrote a blog on The Jeffery Pub, the oldest LGBTQ bar in Chicago, notable not just for its longevity, but because it is owned and operated by African Americans in a neighborhood far removed from the trendy white gayborhoods to the North.

In the course of my research, I discovered another piece of Chicago LGBTQ history. This place was (alas, I have to use the past tense here) located not far from where I grew up and went to college, and, in fact, my brother currently resides not far from it.

The Forest View Lounge was a lesbian bar located in the near southwestern suburb of Forest View, a sliver of a village between Stickney, Lyons, and Berwyn. These suburbs were originally bastions of white European ethnic communities (primarily Czech) that worked blue-collar jobs.
 

Forest View Lounge exterior
Forest View Lounge
Source: https://chicago.gaycities.com/bars/1389-forest-view-lounge

Thus, I was really surprised when I found out about the place, which according to previous reviews on Yelp, was truly a gem of community spirit, not just a bar that apparently served awesome comfort food (especially a legendary volcano burger, stuffed with cheese and very spicy) but a friendly, welcoming place in an area not known in the past for welcoming minorities of any kind.

The bar's owners, Donalou Hendon and Marge Bellisario, were products of that area, making the best of its resources and community. Donalou was also born in Berwyn and grew up in a far Western suburb, while Marge spend most of her life in Berwyn, attending the local community college, Morton College. Donalou also went to Morton College to take courses to obtain her restaurant and sanitation license.
 

Marge Bellisario
Marge Bellisario
Source: http://voyagechicago.com/interview/meet-marge-bellisario-forest-view-lounge-fondly-known-view-forest-view-suburb-chicago/

Interestingly, Forest View Lounge survived a massive flood in the area in 2013. Marge was amazed the place was pretty much untouched, a veritable island in a temporary sea, which in some ways is a metaphor of for LGBTQ-safe spaces.

Now the bar is closed. Donalou died in 2015, and Marge, after a long battle, died of ovarian cancer in January of 2019.

According to Marge's obituary, "Thank you, Marge for accepting and welcoming me every time I came to your bar, even when I felt that I was not welcomed from others," said patron and acquaintance Kim Overby. "You and Donna always did your best to make customers feel like family or good friends. I will miss your laugh and the warmth of your acceptance. Be at peace now and hold your love once again. You are missed by many and we will all hold you and Donna in our hearts and memories."

I find it admirable that both women apparently didn't feel the need to “escape,” like I did. They weren't after corporate or academic glory in the “big city”; they were able to live authentically in their own backyard as life-partners, business partners, and friends to all humans and animals.

Rate this blog entry:
850 Hits
0 Comments

September 12, 1985: Remembering the Infamous Carol's Speakeasy Raid in Chicago

posted by Madame Bubby


The raid on Stonewall of course has become an iconic event because of its social and historical ramifications, but recently LGBTQ historians, including many who publicize history on social media platforms such as Twitter, have called attention to similar events before and after Stonewall. Often the goal of such histories is uncovering marginalized narratives of oppression and liberation that can frame our own interpretations of not just those people and events, but also give a valued context for the present-day legal, social, and cultural challenges to honor and justice that LGBTQ persons still face.

One raid which attained notoriety, mostly because it showed how the politics of the gay Chicago community was becoming very much intertwined overall with mainstream politics, occurred on September 12, 1985.
 

Carol's Speakeasy poster
Image Source: http://chicago.gopride.com/entertainment/column/index.cfm/col/2523

A group called NEMEG, Northwestern Metropolitan Enforcement Group, which consisted of officers from various north and northwestern suburbs, raided a popular gay bar, Carol's Speakeasy, located at 1355 N. Wells Street (that strip still at that point in LGBTQ Chicago history was the center of a vibrant gay nightlife). NEMEG was ostensibly looking for evidence of drugs and drug dealing.

According to David Boyer of Touche and Bijou and a noted figure in Chicago's gay community, who was then employed by Carol's (his first year as manager), the bar was hosting a wrestling promotion night: “We had put out mats on the dance floor and guys would challenge each other to wrestle. Had about maybe 50 or so people in the house.”

Also according to David Boyer, whose account I quote and paraphrase for much of this blog and which generally corroborates what even the conservative Chicago Tribune reported, the Chicago police were not involved; and, as one shall see, this is a most significant, telling detail.

David describes how this, I would claim, vigilante group “stormed the front door, guns drawn,” and that they also broke in through the back. These persons were not wearing any type of identifying uniform, and did not even identify themselves.

Everyone in the bar was forced to gather together and lay face down on the dance floor for a period of several hours. NEMEG members would hit or shove the face of anyone back down to the floor if they even unintentionally looked up.

NEMEG meanwhile searched the offices and serving areas behind the bars, looking for drugs. David mentions that they were even throwing around match books, claiming these contained packages of drugs.

In a manner reminiscent of pre-Stonewall raids, these persons took each person, questioned them, and, most significantly, photographed them. Everyone eventually was forced to leave the bar; no one was arrrested. David Boyer refused to leave after identifying himself as the manager, but they still did not inform him of their identity.

After what seemed an interminable time of chaos and violence, Chicago police did show up, but they did nothing to stop what was happening. Nothing; one could claim they were deliberately ignoring the many legal violations that were occurring for reasons ranging from homophobia to some unwritten code that forbade them from “telling” on their suburban officer comrades.

NEMEG did claim they found drugs on the premises, but they could not determine who brought them.

According to David, at the same time the raid occurred, a couple of employees were arrested at their homes and charged with drug dealing.

This incident did not end up being a narrative memory of injustice and degradation.

By the middle 1980s, the gay community in Chicago had gained enough political power, even during this uncertain time when AIDS was beginning to decimate its members.

Thus, those affected by this raid filed a civil lawsuit against these suburban officers, focusing on clear violations of the law, such as not identifying themselves as police and forcibly taking photographs of the bar patrons.
 

Windy City Times article about Carol's Speakeasy lawsuit
Image Source: http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Windy-City-Times-30th-anniversary-issue-Coverage/52880.html

According to a report in the September 16, 1986 of the Chicago Tribune:
 

"This is one of the most massive violations of civil rights we have seen in Chicago in the last decade," said Harvey Grossman, Illinios legal director of the ACLU.

"Over 50 men were subjected to this course of conduct. They were all ordered to lie on the floor; they were subjected to illegal searches; they were interrogated against their will and required to disclose information about their backgrounds; they were all photographed and none was arrested.

"What the agents did was to take the occasion of serving an arrest warrant on the bartender and turn it into a raid on all who were present at the time," Grossman said.

By 1989, the parties reached an accord, according to a report in the August 18, 1989 issue of the Chicago Tribune. Harvey Grossman in this article makes a telling point: "Although gays have long been subject to police harassment, this is the first time a group of gay men has successfully joined together to obtain damages from law enforcement agencies," Grossman said.

The above is a story of injustice, but also a story of moral courage and faith that the justice system does indeed work, even against those who are supposedly responsible for upholding that its laws are enforced equitably and honorably. In this case, the human rights of the manager and patrons of Carol's were dishonored and dehumanized that night, and though the terms of the settlement did include financial compensation, the real issue is that no one is above the law, and this law is based on the premise that persons are innocent until proven guilty.

Currently, one cannot assume in the case of vulnerable, marginalized populations that their human rights will be respected, and that the justice system will uphold them. I think it's important, overall, to frame this raid as a #NeverAgainIsNow moment that the LGBTQ communities need to take to heart, not only as a warning, but as call for persons to emulate the moral courage David Boyer showed that night.

Sources: Chicago Tribune reports (see hyperlinks); eyewitness account from David Boyer received via email; https://slate.com/human-interest/2016/02/queer-clout-in-chicago-telling-gay-history-beyond-stonewall-and-the-castro.html

Rate this blog entry:
1702 Hits
0 Comments

Contact Us | 800-932-7111 | Join our email list

Go to top