Raids, rights, and rainbow coalitions: Sexuality and race in Chicago politics, 1950–2000

From the abstract:

"The second half of the twentieth century witnessed a dramatic transformation of the relationship between gays and lesbians and local government in major U.S. cities. Where politicians had only recently sought political advantage from raiding gay bars during local election campaigns, they came to pursue gay and lesbian voters aggressively as a potential voting bloc. Raids, Rights, and Rainbow Coalitions traces the origins of gay politics in the context of urban regime change and the “long” civil rights movement, and offers a detailed analysis of how the African American civil rights movement shaped this process. Borrowing strategies from black activists, gay and lesbian Chicagoans demanded legal protection from job discrimination, asserted the right to be represented by members of their own communities, and registered new voters to seek influence in City Council. The dissertation traces the sources of black and gay coalition politics around police brutality and job discrimination in the 1970s and 1980s, as political leaders sought to cobble together a multiracial, left-liberal coalition in the face of a national conservative resurgence; it also traces the emergence of countervailing pressures in the 1990s from the New Right and unevenly distributed economic development. A city-sponsored, $3.2 million gay-themed streetscape renovation project in the North Side’s East Lakeview district, completed in 1998, epitomized both neoliberal economic policies and the ascent of a model of gay politics based on the pattern of traditional, geographically-based urban ethnic constituencies. In the context of Chicago’s persistent residential racial segregation, this model of gay politics promoted a linkage of gay space and gay institutions with the mostly-white North Side, exacerbating the invisibility of black gays and lesbians."

The full dissertation by Timothy Stewart-Winter, then a UChicago History PhD candidate, is available here.