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An Ode To Chicago’s Queer Spaces: Photos Of Pride, Love And LGBTQ+ Joy In Chicago

PHOTOS: Chicago has dozens of special places and events where members of the queer community can find a home, get support — and unapologetically be themselves.

Fonda LaFemme prepares to perform during brunch at the Baton Show Lounge. The Baton Show Lounge is the longest-running drag showcase of its kind, celebrating its 53rd year this March.
Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Pride Month might end after June — but Chicago has a thriving, diverse LGBTQ+ community every day of the year.

From the drag clubs of Northalsted to the South Side’s Jeffery Pub and beyond, Chicagoans are building spaces where queer people can be safe while finding joy and celebrating love.

Photographer Kathleen Hinkel captured dozens of special places and events in Chicago where members of the queer community can find a home, get support — and unapologetically be themselves.

Our ode to Chicago’s LGBTQ community:

Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Nicknamed the Pride house, this Andersonville home raises money for the international nonprofit Men Having Babies, which is dedicated to providing gay men with educational and financial support to achieve parenthood. “Don’t Be Afraid To Show Off Your True Colors” read the front steps, and a sign at the front of the house tells the story of the homeowners being able to achieve their dream of parenthood with help from the organization.

READ MORE: Andersonville’s Pride House Adds Colorful Unicorn To Its Rainbow Yard Display

Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
The Belmont Rocks were historically a popular hangout for the LGBTQ community; today, they are the location of AIDS Garden Chicago and the site of “Self-portrait,” a 30-foot-tall sculpture by late artist and activist Keith Haring.

READ MORE: AIDS Garden Chicago Opens Along Lakefront, Dedicated To The Thousands Lost To The Deadly Epidemic

Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Known as the French Amazon Beauty, Joan Jullian regularly performs as a burlesque showgirl at the Baton Show Lounge. Here, the performer, originally from France, prepares to perform to a Sunday brunch crowd on June 19, 2022.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Kathy Osterman Beach, nicknamed Hollywood Beach, is a popular summer LGBTQ+ hangout. Photographed here packed on Memorial Day weekend.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
NYC-based Asian Glamazon Pattaya Hart performs Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” as a special guest during brunch at the Baton Show Lounge. The Baton Show Lounge is the longest-running drag showcase of its kind, celebrating its 53rd year this March. Originally from Bangkok, Hart is a versatile performer with a long list of accolades, including being named Miss Gay America 2021.

READ MORE: Uptown’s Baton Show Lounge Has New Patio With Outdoor Drag Shows: ‘The Neighbors Love It’

Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Fonda LaFemme prepares to perform during brunch at the Baton Show Lounge. The Baton Show Lounge is the longest-running drag showcase of its kind, celebrating its 53rd year this March.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Mister Wallace & Friends performs at Planet Peach, a colorful, queer Juneteenth pride celebration that occured at Pride Fest on June 19, 2022. The two-day festival happens the weekend before the Chicago Pride Parade.

READ MORE: Ultimate List Of 2022 Pride Month Events In Chicago

Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Francisco Melendez, 31, poses for a portrait near the lighthouse at Kathy Osterman Beach, a popular summer hangout for the LGBTQ+ community.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Pride Fest on June 19, 2022, outside of the Center on Halsted. The two-day festival happens the weekend before the Chicago Pride Parade. The center is the Midwest’s most comprehensive community center dedicated to advancing community and securing the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ Chicagoans.

READ MORE: Want To Support LGBTQ Groups For Pride Month? Here Are 15+ Local Organizations To Give To

Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
The Pride month window display at Women and Children First Bookstore is displayed. Since 1979, the store has worked to amplify underrepresented voices. Independent bookstores have long been instrumental in providing tools to queer liberation.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Photographers Jess Dugan and Kelli Connell lead a discussion about Jess Dugan’s latest photography book, “Look at Me Like You Love Me,” at the Women and Children First Bookstore. Since 1979, the store has worked to amplify underrepresented voices. Bookstores have long been instrumental in providing tools to queer liberation. Both photographers have created bodies of work that spark conversations about sexuality and gender.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Brown Elephant Resale funds care for under-insured patients of Howard Brown Health while also offering HIV and STI screenings at its three locations. Founded in 1974, Howard Brown Health is rooted in LGBTQ+ liberation, providing affirming health care. It is one of the largest organizations of its kind in the nation.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Longtime Big Chicks bartender David Joseph poses behind the bar during his shift. The Uptown bar has been in operation for more than three decades and is known for its art collection.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Back Lot Bash, a women’s party that started in 2004 in response to the lack of women’s events in Chicago’s LGBTQ community, takes place in Andersonville all through Pride weekend.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Transgender superstar and activist Mila Jam performs at Pride Fest on June 19, 2022. The two-day festival happens the weekend before the Chicago Pride Parade.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Bars have always been de facto community spaces for the queer community. Bartender Felicia Van Kampen mixes a cocktail on June 23, 2022, at Nobody’s Darling. Nobody’s Darling — a small, Black-lesbian-owned queer bar in Andersonville — was recently named one of 20 national semifinalists for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program. The bar’s name is a nod to Alice Walker’s “Be Nobody’s Darling.” Co-founder Angela Barnes told the Tribune when it opened, “We wanted this to be a women-centered, women-forward space and a bar where women feel comfortable — but also where everybody is welcome and everyone feels comfortable.”

READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide To LGBTQ-Owned Businesses In Chicago

Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Mrs. Yuka Layme leads Drag Queen Story Time at Midsommarfest’s Pride Kids event on June 11, 2022.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
The internet has been a place for queer individuals to network since its inception. Cris Bleaux, 37, holding a drug screening kit, started Redux Daddy, a project that aims to offer sex workers and drug users affirming support from a peer and uses internet groups for outreach. Redux Daddy specializes in harm reduction techniques and supplies. It is a queer, sex-positive, sex-worker-supporting organization that relies on a community of sex workers and drug users instead of the nonprofit industrial complex. They note it is impossible to measure the harm drug overdoses have caused the queer and trans community because data on the matter does not exist.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Bars have always been de facto community spaces for the queer community. Bartender Felicia Van Kampen mixes a cocktail on June 23, 2022, at Nobody’s Darling. Nobody’s Darling — a small, Black-lesbian-owned queer bar in Andersonville — was recently named one of 20 national semifinalists for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program. The bar’s name is a nod to Alice Walker’s “Be Nobody’s Darling.” Co-founder Angela Barnes told the Tribune when it opened, “We wanted this to be a women-centered, women-forward space and a bar where women feel comfortable — but also where everybody is welcome and everyone feels comfortable.”
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
The Chi-Town Squares perform as part of the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 26, 2022. Dancing groups such as the Chi-town Squares and the Second City Outlaws offer a fun place to learn group dance within the LGBTQ+ community.

READ MORE: Pride Parade Comes Back To Northalsted As LGBTQ People Fear For Their Futures Post-Roe V. Wade

Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Mark King is dressed up for Pride Fest on June 19, 2022, outside of the Center on Halsted. The two-day festival happens the weekend before the Chicago Pride Parade. The center is the Midwest’s most comprehensive community center dedicated to advancing community and securing the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ Chicagoans.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Bars have long been de facto community centers for the queer community. Pictured here is the bar at Big Chicks, which opened in the 1980’s and is known for its art collection.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
The South Shore’s Jeffery Pub is one of few Black-owned LGBTQ+ bars in Chicago. It has been a neighborhood haven since the 1960s.

READ MORE: Chicago Has One Of The Country’s Longest-Running Black-Owned Gay Bars — And It’s On The South Side

Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Kaley, 31, and Sky, 36, hang out at Back Lot Bash on Sunday, June 26, 2022. Back Lot Bash started in 2004 in response to the lack of women’s events in Chicago’s LGBTQ community.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Kenzo Onyx, Mr. Eagle NYC, is introduced during the opening ceremonies of International Mr. Leather on May 26, 2022. International Mr. Leather is a multi-day conference that celebrates the leather, kink, fetish and BDSM community. Chicago has hosted this annual leathermen event since 1979.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Adonis, 30, traveled to Chicago with a group called Hoist to attend International Mr. Leather at the Congress Plaza Hotel. International Mr. Leather a multi-day conference that celebrates the leather, kink, fetish and BDSM community. Chicago has hosted this annual leathermen event since 1979. Hoist is a Memphis-based men’s leather and fetish fraternal organization dedicated to empowering LGBTQ+ people.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Hanging out at the Brave Space Alliance free barbershop, which offers the opportunity for trans-masculine people to have their hair cut and styled by a culturally competent barber. Barber Jai Rodriguez, 38, cuts hair for Dre Meza, 28, while others wait their turn. From left: Sol, 24; Cielo, 24; Brave Space Alliance services supervisor T Smith, 27; and Nelly Harris, 41. Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ+ center on the South Side.

READ MORE: How A Puerto Rican, Transmasculine Barber Is Creating An Oasis For Black, Queer And Trans People

Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Stepfan Vogler, 36; Francisco Melendez, 31; and Kellenbolt, 32; are photographed by 31-year-old Lex Roman at the Hollywood Beach pride lighthouse. Hollywood Beach, formally named Kathy Osterman Beach, is a popular LGBTQ+ hangout spot.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Boots stomp at the opening ceremonies of International Mr. Leather on May 26, 2022. International Mr. Leather is a multi-day conference that celebrates the leather, kink, fetish and BDSM community. Chicago has hosted this annual leathermen event since 1979.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Fonda LaFemme (center) poses for a photo with Joan Jullian (back) while getting ready to perform during brunch at the Baton Show Lounge. The Baton Show Lounge is one of the longest-running drag showcases of its kind, celebrating its 53rd year this March.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
The Shotgunners, a Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association softball team, do a group cheer after their game on June 19, 2022. The association is the largest nonprofit LGBTQ+ sports organization in the Midwest. “CMSA welcomes and encourages people of all genders to participate in its sports programs,” according to its website.
Credit: Kathleen Hinkel/Block Club Chicago
Hanging out at the Brave Space Alliance free barbershop, which offers the opportunity for trans-masculine people to have their hair cut and styled by a culturally competent barber. Pictured here: Sol, 24; Cielo, 24; Brave Space Alliance services supervisor T Smith, 27; and Nelly Harris, 41; hang out while waiting their turn at the barbershop. Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ+ center on the South Side.

READ MORE: Brave Space Alliance Set To Open Community Center, Shelter For Trans Women In South Shore

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