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How Chicago’s Gay Bars Were At The Center Of The Fight For Equal Rights

From rallies to legislation, activist Art Johnston reflects on the role gays bars have played in the LGBTQ movement over the last 40 years.

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Jason Marck

It’s been 50 years since violent protests broke out on June 28, 1969, following a raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in the Greenwich Village neighborhood in New York.

In Chicago, activist Art Johnston said police raids of gay bars would continue to make headlines for another decade. Still, like the Stonewall Inn, Johnston said Chicago’s gay activism took place in the bars — including Sidetrack, which he opened 37 years ago in the historic Boystown neighborhood.

As the country marks the Stonewall anniversary, Johnson recalled key moments over the last 50 years when Chicago’s gay bars have been at the center of the LGBTQ community’s fight for equal rights.

Click here to view the presentation.

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