Symposium honors UIC gay history scholar

John D'Emilio

John D’Emilio, UIC professor emeritus of gender and women’s studies and history. Photo: Jenny Fontaine/UIC (click for larger file)

The University of Illinois at Chicago gender and women’s studies department will host a two-day symposium honoring the career of John D’Emilio, pioneering gay history scholar and UIC professor emeritus of gender and women’s studies and history.

The event will be held Sept. 11 at Student Center West, Thompson Room, 828 S. Wolcott St., and Sept. 12 at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St.

The symposium is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required due to limited seating. For reservations and complete program details, visit For more information, call (312) 413-8381.

On Sept. 11, keynote speaker Estelle Freedman, professor of U.S. history at Stanford University, will present “Sexual Violence and Citizenship: Rape Reform in American History.” A 6 p.m. reception precedes Freedman’s talk at 7 p.m.

The first of three panel sessions will take place Sept. 12 beginning at 10 a.m. Speakers will discuss the legacy and influence of D’Emilio’s work, as well as current and future issues involving the fields of LGBT history, sexuality history and queer studies.

D’Emilio, who retired from UIC in May, has spent over four decades deeply engaged in the rise of gay and lesbian issues to the center of American social and political debate.

His latest book, “In a New Century:  Essays on Queer History, Politics, and Community Life,” explores a range of historic topics related to the LGBT movement’s rising trajectory in American culture, the politics of sexuality, the changes over the last generation and the work that remains.

“Intimate Matters,” a 1997 book D’Emilio co-authored with Freedman, was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in its landmark 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision striking down state anti-sodomy laws, which was regarded by constitutional scholars as the first step to establishing full civil rights for gays.

D’Emilio’s 1983 book, “Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940-1970,” is a defining work in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies.

His book of essays, “The World Turned,” examined gay history, politics and culture in the 1990s and tracked the movement’s transformation during that time.

D’Emilio was the founding director of the Policy Institute at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. He was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2005.


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