by Marie J. Kuda

A 1935 newspaper report substantiates the existence of a thriving lesbian nightlife in Chicago, subject to the same political whims as male bars for their continued existence. Police Commissioner James P. Allman was ordered by Mayor Edward J. Kelly to close the Star and Garter at 854 W. Madison St. for “indecent performances.”

Kelly also cracked down on nightclubs catering to women who preferred men's attire by ordering officials to revoke the licenses of the Roselle Associates Club, 1251 N. Clark St., and the Twelve-Thirty Club, 1230 N. Clybourn Ave.

Investigators sent to the clubs reported that women in male attire were nightly patrons of the places. One woman, when questioned, admitted that many of the couples were actually married, and furnished the police with the name of a “Negro” minister on the South Side who performed the marriage ceremonies, their investigators reported.

Copyright 2008 by Marie J. Kuda

From Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community, edited by Tracy Baim, Surrey Books, 2008.

Chicago Gay History
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