LGBTQ exhibit at Regenstein Library

Staff Writer

A new exhibit shows the University of Chicago and Hyde Park have long been home to a sometimes visible, sometimes closeted LGBTQ community.

Curated by U. of C. Ph.D. candidate Lauren Stokes and alum Monica Mercado, “Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles” takes place through June 12 in the Special Collections Research Center Gallery at Regenstein Library, 1100 E. 57th St.

Stokes was hired by the U. of C. Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality to work on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer exhibit, which she said grew out of an original project to collect interviews with women from the school.

“And while they were doing that project, they realized that there was not a lot of documentation of LGBTQ life at the university in the past,” Stokes said.

Stokes – along with Mercado and eight undergraduates – interviewed more than 90 alumni, faculty and staff for the project since 2012.

The resulting exhibit – which has been on display since March 30 – features a wide range of publications, photographs, posters and memorabilia such as T-shirts and buttons, as well as audio excerpts from interviews.

The exhibit spans the present day through the university’s early years — yet despite the long history of progress it covers, Stokes said challenges remain.

“We didn’t find a lot of evidence of trans people in the past because that’s an identity that’s coalesced so recently,” Stokes said. “But that’s definitely a continuing struggle.”

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