“Queer Legacies: Stories from Chicago’s LGBTQ Archives” by John D’Emilio— LGBTQ Life in Chicago


D’Emilio, John. “Queer Legacies: Stories from Chicago’s LGBTQ Archives”, University of Chicago Press, 2020.

LGBTQ Life in Chicago

Amos Lassen

The Gerber/Hart Library in Chicago and Archives is the repository of thevariety of LGBTQ life in Chicago and it contains records related to the city’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified people and organizations. In “Queer Legacies”, John D’Emilio, one of our pioneering scholar in LGBTQ studies takes us into the Gerber/Hart’s collection and gives us a look at the communities built by generations of LGBTQ people. D’Emilio’s essays “range in focus from politics and culture to social life, academia, and religion. He gives readers an inclusive and personal look at fifty years of a national fight for visibility, recognition, and equality led by LGBTQ Americans who, quite literally, made history. In these troubled times”.

We immediately see the importance of maintaining records of the past especially those about the resistance of our community in the face of those who see us as having little or no value to the larger world. We become aware of“the diversity of activism and experience and are grouped by such themes as religion, lesbian history, and AIDS activism.” D’Emilio also includes the ideological conflicts that caused many activist groups to fall apart. There is a lot of history here and it is so good that LGBTQ communities are preserving the past and bringing it to us. Lately there have been several books of various places that have been published so that we do not forget what came before the way we now life. What makes this such a fascinating read is the author and how he takes us into the past half-century of LGBTQ life. We cannot allow ourselves to forget the activists who gave their all to build our community and this is where D’Emilio excels.

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