Gay Liberation in Champaign-Urbana, IL. 1971-1976: A Personal History

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Jeff Graubart 1972

About the Exhibit

This exhibit is based on my in-process autobiographical novel, The Quest for Brian, which explores not only various LGBT historical events, in Champaign-Urbana and later Chicago, but the complex and not always altruistic motives that drove early activists to obsessively “push the envelope” that others, both within and outside the community, insisted on keeping sealed. Unlike the novel, the exhibit will focus on the documented historical events, and only those events local to Champaign-Urbana, IL. However, narrations and dramatizations are necessarily subjective and this exhibit is based primarily on my own activism. I requested counterpoint for inclusion during the six months leading to the March 2010 deadline. Unfortunately, none was submitted. Hopefully a more exact representation of the history presented will emerge from future comments.

Viewers will be surprised at the richness of LGBT history in this college town. Repeal of the cross-dressing laws, the fight for and passage of gay and lesbian civil rights legislation, the first conference for a national LGBT march on Washington, my own campaign for mayor of Urbana pitted against a fundamentalist minister, and a real life whodunit where justice prevails, all happened within the time frame.

The exhibit will focus on several events in the timeline, using audio reenactments, pictures of actual artifacts and news stories and passages from the book. Links to dramatizations from The Quest for Brian will be marked with the following thumbnail:BookImage.jpg[1]

Characters in dramatizations from The Quest for Brian are associated with real historical figures at the start of each exhibit page in a table like the following: |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

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

Jeff Graubart, Activist Dave Rosen
William O. Stanley, Activist Winston Stanfield III

A short introductory essay: A Philosophical Introduction to My Character and Gay Liberation

Exhibit Pages


October 30th, 1971 Champaign police arrest three drag queens at a Halloween Party
November 16th, 1971 Jeff Graubart asks Champaign City Council to repeal cross-dressing law
December 7th, 1971 Champaign City Council repeals cross-dressing law[2]
January 12th, 1972 Urbana City Council repeals cross dressing law[3]
March 31st, 1972 Campus bar Wigwam begins harassment campaign against gay and lesbian patrons
April 9th, 1972 Planned “Stonewall uprising” at Wigwam fizzles when large number of LGBT patrons treated well. Wigwam Management goes on anti-LGBT offensive when only a few LGBT patrons remain.[4]
April 13th, 1972 Gay Liberation Front pickets Wigwam. Call for a boycott
April 14th, 1972 U of I Student Government endorses boycott of Wigwam
April 15th, 1972 Daily Illini endorses boycott of Wigwam
April 15th, 1972 Picketers assaulted in front of Wigwam, minor injuries, assailants escape
April 17th, 1972 One Assailant spotted on campus by GLF members. He is arrested by Urbana police. Two gay men, Jeff Graubart and William Stanley arrested by Urbana police for "crime" of bringing charges against a real man. Jeff Graubart and William Stanley bring incident to the attention of the Champaign County States Attorney.
May, 1972 Twenty members of GLF march to Champaign City Council and demand gay rights ordinance.
May, 1972 Wigwam goes out of business.
July, 1972 Champaign City Council defeats gay rights ordinance 9-0.
August, 1972 Champaign City Council asked to reconsider gay rights ordinance after attempted gay bashing.
November 7th, 1972 Champaign City Council defeats gay rights ordinance 9-0.
November 9th, 1972 Occupation of Champaign Mayor’s office by fifteen members of GLF. Jeff Graubart and Clarence Fletcher arrested.[5]
January 19th, 1973 Jeff Graubart files petitions to become independent candidate for Mayor of Urbana.[6]
April 3rd, 1973 Election Day in Urbana and Champaign
May 1st, 1973 Bill Stanley addresses new Champaign City Council on gay rights ordinance[7].
May 1st, 1973 Gay rights ordinance sent to committee at first meeting of new Urbana City Council after stormy session.
May 8th, 1973 Champaign City Council debates gay rights ordinance[8].
May 15th, 1973 Gay rights ordinance voted on for third time in Champaign. Defeated by 6-3 vote.[9].
May 15th, 1973 Legislative Committee of Urbana City Council acknowledges being tasked with gay rights ordinance, but does nothing.[10].
June 5th, 1973 5 GLF protestors at Urbana City Council meeting demand action on gay rights ordinance[11]
June 14th, 1973 William Stanley and Jeff Graubart travel to New York to discuss a national Gay and Lesbian march on Washington. National Gay Mobilizing Committee for a March on Washington formed.
June 25th, 1973 Urbana Committee on Legislation begins debate on gay rights ordinance[12].
July 9th, 1973 Urbana Committee on Legislation continues debate on gay rights ordinance with religious exemption added.
August 27th, 1973 Urbana Committee on Legislation finishes debate on gay rights ordinance[13]
August 28th, 1973 Urbana City Council votes down gay rights ordinance 7-6. Gay rights supporters storm out of meeting. Ordinance sent back to Committee on Legislation.[14]
November 23rd, 1973 First ever nationwide meeting for a national gay and lesbian march on Washington held in Champaign-Urbana.[15]
March 11th, 1975 Urbana passes gay rights ordinance.[16]
March 2nd, 1976 Jeff Graubart begins a 17-day sit-in at the Urbana City Building.[17]
March 19th, 1976 Jeff Graubart arrested.[18]
July 19th, 1977 Champaign passes gay rights ordinance[19]


  1. Liam Quin,2005. Some Pictures of Books,
  2. Dan Doran 1971,Councilman Gets A Kiss After New Dress Code OK'd, Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, December 8th,Page 3
  3. Dennis Sullivan 1972,Legislation Committee Calls for Prohibition of Burning, Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, June 13th,Page 2
  4. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, 1972-20, Wigwam Press Release.
  5. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, 1972-2, Bail documents for sit-in
  6. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, 1973-9, Statement of candidacy for Mayor of Urbana
  7. Mike Murphy 1973,'Their Sexuality Was Threatened, News-Gazette, May 16th, Page 3
  8. Mike Murphy 1973,'Gay Rights,' Bible In Same Discussion, News-Gazette, May 9th, Page 3
  9. Mike Murphy 1973,'Their Sexuality Was Threatened, News-Gazette, May 16th, Page 3
  10. Anonymous 1973,Urbana Ordinance On Housing Heard, News-Gazette, May 15th, Page 3
  11. Anonymous 1973,Paley breaks council tie with vote to hire attorney, Champaign-Urbana Courier, June 6th, Front section
  12. Paul Bargren 1973,Homosexual Rights Legislation About Ready for Council, News-Gazette, June 26th, Page 3
  13. Anonymous 1973,'Rights' Ordinance to Council, News-Gazette, August 28th, Front section
  14. Anonymous 1973, Urbana human rights ordinance fails by a vote, Champaign-Urbana Courier, August 29th, Front section
  15. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, File1973-1, NGMC March on Washington Conference
  16. Anonymous 1975, Urbana 18th City to Pass Rights Bill, The Advocate, March 26th, Issue 160, Page 5
  17. Pat Wingert 1976, Demonstrator awaits justice on city streets, Daily Illini, March 3rd, Front section
  18. Matt O'Conner 1976, Jeffrey Graubart Vigil Ends In Arrest At Urbana Building, News-Gazette, March 20th, Front section
  19. Todd Sloane,1977, Champaign approves rights ordinance, The Daily Illini, July 20th

Contact Person

Jeff Graubart


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