ORGANIZATION | Inducted 1991
In 1976, Ralph Paul Gernhardt started a telephone information line which detailed news and events happening within Chicago’s gay and lesbian community. That line grew into Gay Chicago News, a weekly tabloid reporting community happenings, gossip, sporting events, and more. Eventually, this evolved into Gay Chicago Magazinee, a nationally recognized entertainment guide to gay and lesbian life in the Chicago metropolitan area.
Dan Di Leo joined the staff in 1977, bringing to the weekly paper his expertise in reporting. Di Leo was responsible for the editorial content of Gay Chicago Magazine, as well as the publication’s business matters.
The magazine was first published in the same size as TV Guide; it featured a calendar of events, as well as listings of bars, businesses, and organizations serving the myriad needs of Chicago’s gay and lesbian community. In 1988, the magazine’s size was increased to 81/2 x 11″, and the publication expanded its format to include an “After Dark” section, featuring theater and restaurant reviews. Additionally, several columnists each writing about the community from his or her unique perspective joined the staff.
Under the joint leadership of Gerhardt and Di Leo, Gay Chicago Magazine was on the front lines in the battle against AIDS. It was an early corporate sponsor of the Strike Against AIDS, and both Gernhardt and Di Leo gave generously of their individual talents and resources, assisting many community based agencies in acquiring critical public relations skills.
Di Leo died on November 24, 1989, leaving Gernhardt again as the sole publisher. Dan Di Leo has been honored by the establishment of a memorial fund in his name at Howard Brown Memorial Clinic, providing emergency financial assistance to people living with AIDS. Recently, Gay Chicago Magazine added two more feature writers: one columnist focuses on gay/lesbian businesses and the individuals involved; the second will write about community based agencies, their structures, missions, governance, finances, and volunteer opportunities. With the Memorial Day issue dated May 23, 1991, Gay Chicago Magazine began publishing in a four color glossy cover format, once again demonstrating the commitment of publisher Ralph Paul Gernhardt to produce for Chicago’s gay and lesbian community the finest quality magazine possible.
Please note: this information has not been updated since the time of the member’s induction.