Red text and a red illustration of a person in a pointy hat and robe holding a heart on a white background
The 44th Ward Fair was an outdoor celebration event held in Chicago from the early 1970s until 1985. The 44th Ward constitutes the area of downtown Chicago including the Boystown and Wrigleyville neighborhoods. The first fair likely took place in 1972 as a way for Alderman Richard Simpson to raise money for projects and services in his ward. Events included ethnic food, concerts, carnival games, and more. For the 1979 fair, members of the Chicago Hustle, a women’s professional basketball team, were showcased in a free throw competition.
The fair holds significance in local gay rights history. The initial 1972 fair welcomed an exhibit by the ward’s gay organizations. The following year, however, the clergy of the host church refused to rent the space out to fair organizers unless contract language expressly forbade exhibitions in direct contradiction to church policy. In response, a group of more than 30 protested the exclusion of the gay organizations. Local author, historian, and actor Studs Terkel happened to walk by the protest and asked its purpose. Once he learned why they were excluded, Terkel stormed the stage and gave a fiery speech denouncing the exclusion of gay people.
Croix, S. (2003, October 15). Gay history: Chicago whispers. In Windy City Times. Retrieved from http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Gay-History-Chicago-Whispers/143...
Fun to do. (1979, July 15). Chicago Tribune, p. 38.