Gay in Chicago

Then and Now

Two gay Chicago men share their experiences with acceptance and community across generations

Patrick Cain, 73, spent most of his professional career in the 1960s and 1970s in the closet. Today, he volunteers with SAGE, an advocacy group for LGBT seniors, at the Center on Halsted, which he says gives him a sense of community.
Ben Guerra, 22, came out when he was a junior at Northwestern University. He says he first felt the need to conform to a promiscuous gay stereotype but now feels that lasting relationships are more important.

History of LGBT Experience

In 1961, Illinois became the first state to decriminalize homosexuality.

Homosexuality was considered a disease from 1942 to 1973 by the American Psychiatric Association.

On June 1, 2011, Illinois joined California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin in legally recognizing civil unions between same-sex couples.

Chicago LGBT Resources

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LGBT population
Sources: The Williams Institute, 2010 data; The American Community Survey, 2000 data; US Census, 2000 data
Content created and edited by Serena Dai, Kimberly Elsham, Magdalena Slapik, and Michael Tomko.