Past Event

Free Speech and the "Kids of Fairytown"

In the 1930s, so many gathering spots for gays and lesbians flourished openly on Chicago’s Near North Side that some dubbed the area “Fairytown.” Tourists came to gawk, sociologists to investigate, and novelists to find inspiration. Historian David Johnson examines how the bohemian atmosphere of places such as Bug House Square and the Dill Pickle Club also provided a space for a gay male subculture to emerge. Whether looking at Chicago”s first gay organization, the Society for Human Rights (1925), or its first gay pride parade (in 1970), the roots of today’s community can be traced back to Bughouse Square and its atmosphere of tolerance. This program is being held in conjunction with the exhibition, Outspoken: Chicago”s Free Speech Tradition. Drawing on the combined collections of the Newberry Library and the Chicago Historical Society, Outspoken will provide a rare opportunity to discover the history of political, cultural, and artistic dissent in Chicago and its hinterlands.

“For more information, please contact the Newberry Library at 312.255.3691. Information is also available at”