Doors Closed: Milwaukee’s Vanishing LGBT Landmarks

Saturday (9/22) at 1 pm and Sunday (9/23) at 1 pm
Ticket Required ($10)
Duration: 1 hour
Capacity: 25 people per tour
Meet: 400 N. Plankinton Ave.

Since Prohibition, when the St. Charles Hotel operated Milwaukee’s first “known” gay speakeasy in City Hall Square, gays and lesbians have experienced tremendous social change in America. Once considered a twilight world that could not be spoken of in daylight, LGBTQ culture has entered the spotlight with rainbow families, marriage equality, and record-breaking pride celebrations.

For a medium-size Rust Belt city with German Protestant roots, Milwaukee was an unlikely place for gay and lesbian culture to bloom before the Stonewall Riots. However, Milwaukee eventually had as many–if not more–pre-Stonewall LGBTQ gathering places as coastal cities, ranging from the back rooms of the 1940s to the bust outs of the 1960s to the video bars of the 1980s to the guerrilla gay bars of today.

From discos and dive bars to leather clubs and cabarets, we’ll take a walk from the earliest known “Fruit Loop” of the 1940s to today’s thriving gayborhood in Walker’s Point. Most importantly, we’ll hear from those who dared to live proud before “pride” was an option. Along this magnificent mile-long walk, we’ll witness a historic neighborhood’s 50-year evolution from a shadowy, coal-stained stretch of warehouses into one of Milwaukee’s most vibrant entertainment districts.

We hope to spark a conversation about the proper research, preservation and celebration of Milwaukee’s rich LGBTQ history and heritage. Join us!

Tourgoers will receive a complimentary autographed copy of “LGBT Milwaukee” courtesy of Milwaukee Pride, Inc.

This tour is offered by Milwaukee Pride, Inc. and Janes Walk MKE