Grand Jury and the Fight for a Gay Rights Bill in Champaign, May 1972-May 1973

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Grand Jury and the Fight for Gay Rights in Champaign

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Mask201.jpg The Cast - Major players identified. Actual historical figures on left.

Jeff Graubart, Activist C-U Gay Liberation Front, Narrator Dave Rosen
William Stanley, Activist C-U Gay Liberation Front Winston Stanfield III
Paul Fuller, Activist C-U Gay Liberation Front Seth Heller
Clarence Fletcher, Activist C-U Gay Liberation Front Reggie Flanders
Virgil Wikoff, Champaign, Illinois Mayor Eben Kane

The Grand Jury

Despite the threat of a year in prison for breathing a word about the actions of the Urbana cop, when Bill Stanley and I were released from the Urbana police station, we went directly to the office of the Champaign County States Attorney and demanded a grand jury investigation. Unfortunately, neither of us knew the cops name. In the book, The Quest for Brian the cops name tag was ripped off, we assumed in the anti-war riots two days earlier. But that is fiction. In truth, neither Bill nor I actually looked.

FOIALetter.jpg


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Dramatization of First Meeting with Assistant State's Attorney[1] I remember nothing about the look or dress of the Assistant Champaign County State's Attorney, so all such references are fiction, the rest is not.


The Assistant States Attorney did promise an investigation and we sent out a press release on the incident, for several purposes, not the least of which was to protect ourselves from revenge by the Urbana cop.


Two weeks later, the Assistant State's Attorney called to let me know the investigation was complete and the case was going to the Champaign County Grand Jury".


But then something went very wrong. With summer break approaching, several weeks went by without the Assistant State's Attorney returning my calls.


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Dramatization of June Attempt to Meet Assistant State's Attorney[2] Accurate representation of first attempt to meet with Assistant State's Attorney after he suddenly broke up communication.

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Dramatization of August Attempt to Meet Assistant State's Attorney[3] His mother might have been sick during the July Grand Jury and he was on vacation in August. I do not recall the order of the excuses.


I was given one excuse after another for why the Assistant State's Attorney was indisposed. Septemeber brought another excuse from his secretary. I never saw the Assistant State's Attorney again and gave up trying.


At least part of the reason for his sudden change of heart comes to light in Jeff Graubart: A Conspiracy Unraveled, My 17 Day Urbana Sit-in, March, 1976 but not all the facts are known to this day. Perhaps the Freedom of Information request will be answered before the March 2010 deadline and the rest of the truth will come out.


Gay Liberation Goes to the Champaign City Council

For reasons that did not become apparent until 1976, there was a press blackout from May through November of 1972 on the grand jury investigation and the Gay Liberation Front's visits to the Champaign City Council demanding civil rights. At this time, all references in this section until November, 1972 will be from the fictional work The Quest for Brian although hopefully I will be able to produce other sources before the March 2010 deadline.


Outraged at the discrimination at the Wigwam and physical attacks from Wigwam management, the Gay Liberation Front held a march to and a demonstration at the Chamapaign City Council demanding civil rights protections.


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Dramatization of May, 1972 Gay Liberation March to Champaign City Council[4] It is probably fictional that we heard about the Wigwam closing on the exact same day as the march to the Champaign City Council. The Assistant State's Attorney's agreement to bring the Urbana cop before the grand jury also probably did not happen on the same day. They did all happen within a few days of each other and the exact dates are still unknown, so they are combined into a single day for fictional purposes. However, all the other things mentioned about the three events are intended to be accurate.


In July of 1972, Champaign voted on the gay rights bill.


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Dramatization of July, 1972 Champaign City Council Vote on Gay Rights[5] Intended to be an accurate representation of the meeting.


The bill was defeated unanimously. The extent of the loss was a shock in light of the conclusive evidence of anti-gay discrimination we presented against the Wigwam.


In August of 1972, Bill Stanley, Paul Fuller and I were attacked by a knife weilding assailant yelling "I'll kill you faggots." We turned on our attacker and sent him running in fear, but I used the incident to try to re-interest the Champaign City Council in the gay rights bill.


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Dramatization of August, 1972, Request to Champaign Council to Reconsider Gay Rights[6] Intended to be an accurate representation of the meeting.

The gay rights bill was once again voted on in November of 1972 and was once again defeated unanimously, although some of my own notes show abstentions.


When the bill was defeated for a second time, we were prepared with a planned response.



Subsequent historical accounts and dramatizations occur after I rejected my Democratic Party affiliations and became a revolutionary socialist, joining the Young Socialist Alliance. This was precipitated by the State's Attorney coverup of the Urbana cop's abuse, the unanimous defeat of gay rights in Champaign and the renouncing of gay rights by George McGovern and speech by Kathy Wilch at the Democratic Convention


Bail for sit-in at Mayor Wikoff's office demanding he support the gay rights bill[7]

Going to Jail for Gay Rights

After the second unanimous defeat of the gay rights bill in Champaign, on November 9th, 1972, fifteen members of the Gay Liberation Front held a sit-in in the Mayor Wikoff's office, demanding he come out in favor of the ordinance.


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Dramatization of November, 9th 1972, Occupation of Mayor Wikoff's Office[8] Most of the conversation is fictionalized


At 5 o'clock, Clarence Fletcher and I remained and were arrested for Criminal Trespass to Public Property. After being processed, they were sent to Champaign County Jail.


The Gay Liberation Front held a protest outside the police station that finally broke the press blackout.


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Dramatization of November, 9th 1972, GLF Picket[9] Accurate representation intended


Meanwhile Clarence Fletcher and I were in the Champaign County Jail.

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Dramatization of Clarence Fletcher and Jeff Graubart in Champaign County Jail[10] All of the incidents dramatized are based on actual events including Clarence braiding the hair of the anti-gay Muslim and my inspiration to run for Mayor of Urbana.


Champaign Tries Again After 1973 Election

One of the positive effects of my run for Mayor of Urbana is that it brought gay rights out of the closet. All candidates running in both Champaign and Urbana were forced to take a public position on gay civil rights. The news media was no longer able to ignore our demonstrations. A verifiable history of gay rights in the Twin Cities exists from 1973 onwards.

After the election, we were back in Champaign, demanding a new vote, although it was in Urbana that we had a majority.


Gay Rights and Bible in Same Discussion[12]


On May 16th, the Champaign Council defeated the gay rights bill for the third time but the vote was no longer unanimous. It was 6-3 and well covered in the press.


Fowllowing this defeat, the Gay Liberation Front refocused its efforts on Urbana and the majority pledged to support the bill which had unexpectedly been sent to the Committee on Legislation. See The Fight for a Gay Rights Bill in Urbana, April 1973-October 1973



Champaign citizens react to the vote in Penny For Your Thoughts local CBS radio show and reprinted in the News-Gazette.























































Final Passage

Although it is outside of the scope of this history, following Anita Bryant's June 7th, 1977 win in Dade County, Florida, there were never-before-seen massive demonstrations in Chicago, Houston and New Orleans, Anita's Heartland, which revived the gay movement in the entire nation and led to the most massive late June Gay Pride marches ever, for the first time ever in many cities.


Two weeks later on July 19th, 1977, Champaign finally passed its gay rights bill.[15]


Exhibit Page Links


References

  1. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,4:13-15
  2. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,4:35-36
  3. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,4:41-42
  4. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,4:20-24
  5. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,4:37
  6. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,5:13
  7. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, 1972-2, Bail documents for sit-in
  8. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,5:35-36
  9. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,5:37
  10. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,5:38-40
  11. Mike Murphy 1973,Their Sexuality Was Threatened, News-Gazette, May 16th, Front section
  12. Mike Murphy 1973,'Gay Rights,' Bible In Same Discussion, News-Gazette, May 9th, Front section
  13. Anonymous 1973,How Should Member Of Council Vote, News-Gazette, May 16th, Front section
  14. Anonymous 1973,Rights of Homosexuals Discussed, News-Gazette, May 22nd, Front section
  15. Todd Sloane,1977, Champaign approves rights ordinance, The Daily Illini, July 20th

Contact Person

Jeff Graubart jeffgrau@rcn.com

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