Carol Anshaw & Jessie Ewing



2. Birthplaces:

Carol: Grosse Pointe, Michigan
Jessie: Noroton, Connecticut

3. Date you first mark as getting together:

February 4, 1996

4. City/state where you live currently:

We live together in Chicago; also in Amsterdam.

5. Education:

Carol: Michigan State University, BA; Vermont College, MFA
Jessie: Boston University, BA; University of Illinois, MA

6. Careers:

Carol: I've been writing fiction since 1972; I have three novels published – Aquamarine, Seven Moves, and Lucky in the Corner. I am just finishing a novel called Carry the One. Now and then I also write stories, two of which have been included in Best American Short Stories. I have also been teaching fiction writing. For the past 11 years I've done this in the MFA in Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute.

Jessie: Newspaper photographer; special education teacher; currently working in conjunction with Black Cat Productions [Sharon Zurek] on a documentary called Whaddaya...Drunk?: Living With Huntington's Disease, about a friend who suffers with Huntington's Disease.

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

We are both queer, both women.

8. Who did you first "come out" to and when?

Carol: The first person I came out to was the first woman I slept with, which is to say I came out by sleeping with her. This was in the context of one of those big, crazy romances that drive everyone nuts, so it was an emotionally as well as sexually potent experience. This was around 1980.

9. What troubles did you face as a GLBT person?

Carol: Coming in, there was quite a bit of trouble, actually. I'd been married for one thing (to an extremely nice guy), identified as straight, knew almost no one who was queer. I was pretty much starting from scratch. So I left my marriage, lost some friends, started writing fiction about lesbians. My parents were a nightmare; we didn't speak for about a decade. None of this, however, was anywhere near as difficult as the preceding few years when I was a queer living a straight life.

10. List organizations (GLBT or mainstream) you have been involved in.

National Book Critics Circle (former board member)
Bloom queer literary journal (current board member)
I'm also hooked up with PETA because, hey, animals can't speak up for themselves.

Huntington's Society of America (donor)
Amnesty International (donor)

11. When you were coming out, what were your favorite Chicago GLBT bars?

We both miss the Swan Club.

12. If you consider yourself a "political" activist, how do you define this?

Carol: I've always been on the left side of the political spectrum. I did some intervention work, getting women into clinics for abortions, joining picket lines. Now I work for Democratic candidates. I canvassed for Harold Washington. I poll-watched for Barack when he was making his Senate bid. I canvassed and poll-watched for Kerry in Michigan and Florida in 2004, and will go this fall [2008] to whatever battleground they send me to.

Jessie: I have worked for progressive candidates going back to Shirley Chisholm.

13. Describe what you feel your personal legacy is to the Chicago GLBT community.

Carol: My hope is that, in my books, other lesbians have seen their stories on the page, and that these stories verified something within them, that a reader might have closed one of my novels and said, "Yes, it's like that."

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.
Click Here for more Information.
Chicago Gay History
© COPYRIGHT 2023 Chicago Gay History
Powered by