Yvonne Zipter


1) Birthdate:


2) Birthplace:

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

3) Date you first mark as getting together with your partner Kathy Forde:

December 5, 1987 was our first date (even though we didn't know it was a "date"), but in retrospect, it was clear it was the start of something special.

4) City/state where you live currently:

Chicago, Illinois

5) Education:

University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee); Milwaukee Area Technical College; Vermont College; Cortiva Institute's Chicago School of Massage Therapy

6) Career:

Massage therapist and writer

7) How do you describe your sexuality and your gender?

Lesbian woman.

8) Do you have children and/or grandchildren?

None – just a beautiful girl dog!

9) If you are GLBT, describe when you first "knew.”

In college.

10) Who did you first "come out" to and when?

I came out to a coworker when I lived in California, in 1978.

11) What troubles did you face as a GLBT person?

I have been very lucky and have never really had any problems. Anyone in my life who was taken aback when I first came out was quick to accept me as I was and I've never had trouble from anyone else.

My partner Kathy had problems, though, in graduate school, where she made all of the closeted people on the faculty at her school nervous.

12) Did you have mentors in the Chicago GLBT community?

I came out before I moved to Chicago, but Linda Bubon and Ann Christopherson at Women and Children First, and the people and programs I encountered at their store, were instrumental in my formation as a lesbian.

13) What were the key issues faced in the GLBT community when you first came out?

We spent a lot of time trying to get the city counsel to pass a nondiscrimination law.

14) What issues do you see as key in the GLBT community today?

Probably gay marriage, for all of the rights and privileges that institution confers on couples.

15) How have AIDS and/or other health issues impacted your life personally?

My mother died of breast cancer, so that issue has often been a key focal point in my life, and from time to time I have been involved with the Lesbian Community Cancer Project.

16) Describe what you feel your personal legacy is to the Chicago GLBT community:

I think my main contribution has been in the area of literature, where I hope I have brought small amounts of humor and/or insight to bear on a variety of topics, from the mundane to the important. In that capacity, I hope I have provided people with a sense of being part of something bigger, a sense that they are not alone in their struggles with daily life and with bigger issues.

17) This project is also about "defining moments." Please discuss some of those in your life.

Growing up poor definitely shaped who I am and how I view life, but perhaps the most looming of defining moments was the death of my mother from breast cancer when I was 24. Both of those elements of my life taught me to take nothing for granted, to appreciate every day and every person in my life. I believe I was made a stronger, more compassionate person as a result of both of those facts of my life.

In my adult life, the best defining moment would have to be when I met my lover Kathy, who, through tough times and good, has always supported me and my dreams and my endeavors. She keeps me laughing and we enjoy no one else's company as much as each other's – which is saying something, after 20 years together!

Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community, the book is edited by Tracy Baim and features the contributions of more than 20 prominent historians and journalists. It is published by Surrey Books, an Agate imprint, and is hard cover, 224 pages, 4-color, with nearly 400 photos.
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