Part 2: The Making of Bronzeville's Queer Culture (1940-1955)

The Second World War led to the emergence of a segregated African American queer subculture in Bronzeville. The migration of homosexuals to Chicago gave rise to an increase of North Side gay bars from which Blacks were often excluded. Therefore, by the mid-forties, most of Bronzeville’s former homo-friendly nightclubs had become exclusively African American gay clubs (example: The Kitty Kat Club).

However, Bronzeville’s upper class, seeking to improve the collective fate of African Americans by inculcating middle-class values among them led many gays and lesbians to be careful about acting on their sexuality, or to limit their sexual relationships to other cities. For example, Reverend Cobb started giving homophobic sermons in the mid-forties but was known to have gay sexual partners in many other cities.

Working-class African American gays were ridiculed in the press and harassed in bars for their transgression of gender roles, rambunctious house parties and participation in public sex.