The Columbia Chronicle

‘Out and Proud’ at the Chicago Public Library

By J. DePaolis

October 13, 2008

Chicago is a city rich in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history. With that history comes responsibility, and with the help of the Chicago Public Library, some gay rights activists are setting out to help preserve that vast history.The Chicago Public Library, 400 S. State St., celebrated the diverse LGBT community when they hosted a book launching on Oct. 1, for Out and Proud in Chicago, a book edited by Windy City Times editor Tracy Baim. The book features photographs detailing gay history in the city from the 1950s to the 2000s. A panel discussion on the book was held in the Harold Washington Library.As the library celebrates its annual book festival, highlighting library functions around the city in and out of bookstores, Chicago also celebrates  Gay History Month."It's really a chance to get to see Chicago's role in the literary process," said Ruth Lednicer, Chicago Public Library director of marketing and press.Chicago has played a large role in shaping the history of the gay movement, hosting the Gay Games in 2006 and founding the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1991, Lednicer said.Lednicer called Out and Proud in Chicago a groundbreaking book, and said the event serves as not only the start of the book festival, but also as a formal premiere of the book."The city has an organization and history of programs like these," Lednicer said. "This is a book the library really wanted to offer a chance [for Chicagoans] to learn more about."The panel was filled with co-editors of the book, Baim and William Kelley, as well as writers Marie J. Kuda and Jorjet Harper; and gay activist Chuck Renslow."I thought the library would be a great place to have an actual panel with some of the writers and actual subjects of the book," Baim said.The project started as a film, but because of the large number of interviews-more than 260 last summer-Baim and her team decided to put all of their work into a website. A film did eventually get made and a publishing company, Surrey Books, approached Baim to edit a companion book to the film. The book came together in the span of six weeks this past summer.Baim said she believes too many great influences of the gay community are forgotten with time.Baim spoke at Loyola University a few weeks before and had mentioned Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student who was murdered in 1998 for being gay. The 10th anniversary of Shepard's murder was Oct. 12. Baim was surprised to hear how few people knew his story."That was just 10 years ago," Baim said. "I want to make sure that a lot of the people [who] I have admired and [who] are my heroes in the community aren't forgotten."She said she set out to compile the history and the stories of as many willing participants as she could, with all of the interviews and stories included in the book, which is available online at"People [aren't] aware of where to look," Baim said. "I'm just trying to make sure that [gay] history lives beyond newsprint."The library likes to take interest in local authors and help launch their work to the public, said Craig Davis, the director of adult services at the library. Out and Proud in Chicago is high profile in the LGBT community, and Davis said he hopes the library can show people something unexpected."We hope [people] can take something away from our events, feeling enriched," Davis said.The Chicago Book Festival is in its ninth year, and the panel discussion serves as the inaugural event for the month-long program.The library will also host other critically acclaimed authors throughout October, including Gregg Shapiro on Oct. 19, David Macauley on Oct. 22 and Sarah Vowell on Oct. 23.Later this month, the library will also honor Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff, with the Carl Sandberg Literary Award for 2008. The Right Stuff was chosen by the library for the Fall 2008 "One City, One Book" citywide book club selection. The event will take place on Oct. 16.While it is free of charge to attend any of the book festival programs, donations can still be made. The donations will help buy special collection sets of literature for city libraries and also help fund foundations and programs the library runs, Lednicer said.For more information on literary events in the Chicago area this month, visit

Homeless get support to vote

By Kelly Rix

October 6, 2008

When working to get out the vote, Chicago's homeless population has typically been overlooked. But Cook County Clerk David Orr wants to change that.The Cook County Clerk's Office has been working with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless to mobilize staff and volunteers from 27 different organizations who serve the homeless in Chicago and suburban Cook County.On Sept. 16, about 60 people from these groups attended a train...

Fans, bars react to alcohol ban

By Kaylee King

October 6, 2008

Throughout the summer and fall months, bars around Wrigley Field are filled at least once a week with Cubs fans who either couldn’t get tickets to the game across the street or are watching their hometown heroes while they’re away. But this season is different.The bars are still full, especially during the playoffs, but according to the city’s new alcohol ban, spearheaded by Mayor Richard M. Daley, if the game happens to b...

Chicago goes gourmet

By Eve Fuller

October 6, 2008

Renowned chefs and restaurants were honored at the first annual Gourmet Food and Wine Festival in Chicago. From Sept. 26-28, Millennium Park was transformed into a mecca for food and wine lovers. Acclaimed chefs from all over the nation were invited to demonstrate their recipes and present their food specialties."We want to showcase to the world what a terrific dining destination Chicago is," said Jennifer Hefferly, director of...

Seeing red in a blue city

By Kelly Rix

October 6, 2008

Chicago is well-known as a Democratic Party stronghold, and neither presidential candidate is focusing much effort on reaching Illinois voters. But that isn't stopping Chicago's young Republicans from organizing and rallying behind their candidate, Sen. John McCain.Young conservatives are working to get McCain's Windy City supporters involved in his campaign and to keep the momentum up after the election and start challenging th...

Commuter-operated CTA Twitter launched

By John Lendman

October 6, 2008

One of the most common complaints commuters have with the CTA is its lack of communication, according to various Chicago-centric CTA bloggers-riders simply want real-time information.So it seems for CTA Twitter creator Dan O'Neil, if you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself.In an effort to deliver more efficient and timely updates to the average commuter, CTA-vigilante bloggers have teamed up with Dan O'...

Banned books find support at annual event

By Lauren Kelly

October 6, 2008

In an effort to bring awareness to censorship issues and First Amendment rights, the American Library Association presented the Banned Books Week Readout, held on Sept. 27 at Pioneer Plaza, 435 N. Michigan Ave., next to Tribune Tower.The event, which featured author readings and book signings, kicked off the 27th year of Banned Books Week, an annual nation-wide event celebrating the freedom to read.The American Library Ass...

New study aims to help schizophrenics

By Thomas Pardee

October 6, 2008

A new study aimed at improving the quality of life for patients suffering from the mental disorder schizophrenia is underway in the Chicago area. Researchers hope a new medication being tested will offer hope to those suffering from the crippling symptoms of mental illness.The independent Uptown Research Institute, sponsored by drug developer Sanofi-aventis, is looking for patients in Chicago to participate in the ongoing ...

Home run

By Eli Kaberon

October 5, 2008

Temperatures peaked at 80 degrees for the Oct. 12 running of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, which are far from ideal conditions for the 26.2-mile race around the city.Despite concerns of a repeat of the excessive heat problems that occurred during last year's race-which was cancelled after four hours-very few mishaps resulted.Only 61 runners received medical aid following the marathon this year, the race's 31st. In comparison, more ...

Fire destroys Chinese artifacts


By Meha Ahmad

September 29, 2008

Along a street lined with Chinese antique stores, past the Lucky Lantern shop and Emperor's Choice restaurant is a community that displays its culture and traditions with pride. But in the heart of Chic...


‘Die-In’ protests Iraqi civilian casualties

September 29, 2008

While business suit-clad employees carried on their daily routines passing through the buildings surrounding Federal Plaza, at the corner of West Adams and South Dearborn streets,  around noon on Sept. 22,...

New Obama HQ targets swing states

By Kelly Rix

September 29, 2008

With the presidential election on Nov. 4 less than two months away, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama and his campaign are urging their Chicagoland supporters to help win over adjacent swing-state neighbors.While Obama is projected to win his home state of Illinois on Election Day, many of his supporters are being commissioned to help out in other ways.Through its new Illinois Statewide Headquarters in the We...

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