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Chicago: Thriving Gay Capital

By Joanna Miller in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 24, 2006 8:08PM

As more than 8,000 athletes prepare to head to Chicago to participate in this summer’s Gay Games 2006, a new book touts Chicago as a “thriving gay capital.”

"The Field Guide to Gay and Lesbian Chicago" (Lake Claremont Press) by Kathie Bergquist and Robert McDonald, says the city is often overlooked by gay-friendly travel guides, and those that mention it usually focus on the bar scene. McDonald argues that authors of other guides have only a “cursory familiarity of Chicago” and that bar- and club-centric information is misleading.

gay games logo.jpg“Gay culture in Chicago is not limited to one or two gay-oriented neighborhoods,” says Bergquist. “It spreads from the furthermost north and northwest sides of the city to the South Shore and far southwest sides. Chicago’s gay community is not just about bars and clubs. It includes a dynamic history of political activism and engagement starting with activists like Jane Addams and Henry Gerber, and includes numerous churches encompassing virtually every denomination, a comprehensive health center, two world-class competitive sports leagues, a chamber of commerce, and a marching band.”

We’re guessing they’re not offering a similar distinction to Crystal Lake, although opponents to the Gay Games rowing competition in the northern ‘burb were ultimately defeated earlier this month. Days after the final vote, Oak Park, a host of three Gay Games competitions, issued a proclamation of its support of the event and of the gay community.

Bergquist and McDonald apparently have more than a cursory familiarity with the city. They met while both working at Unabridged Bookstore in Boystown in the mid-90s. Reviewers have reported that the book includes embarrassing and funny stories from their own experiences at local spots. "The Field Guild to Gay and Lesbian Chicago" is scheduled to be released in May, but you can pre-order at

To purchase tickets to the Gay Games’ opening and closing ceremonies, on sale tomorrow, visit their Web site.