He spoke Wednesday, June 5 at Sidetrack, and presented the night before at Sidetrack’s OUTSpoken monthly series.
The Wednesday night session was moderated by Owen Keenhan and “the energy in the room was palpable,” said Sidetrack general manager Brad Balof. “People were riveted with what Tree had to share. With humor, insight and very descriptive detail, Tree transported the room to 1969 Greenwich Village and the Stonewall Inn.”
That Stonewall raid led to the modern gay rights movement – and the Chicago Pride Parade on Sunday, June 30 celebrates its 50th and honors the 50-year history of the gay rights movement.
Sequoia’s speech was presented by the Legacy Project and Sidetrack, “and Sidetrack’s Main Bar was packed from 6-9 p.m. for the event,” Balof said.
“It was very interesting to hear Tree spoke about how people viewed their lives in these days. Although he never said it this way, it was clear that, in 1969 and for many, many, many years after that, you could choose to follow your passions, education, family, professions, art, or, you could choose to come out and live as your authentic self – but you couldn’t be openly gay, lesbian, bi, or trans and have those things. But bit by bit over years, brave people started having both—and bit by bit, more became possible. At least that’s part of what I got out of it.”
Balof added that Sequoia was “personable and chatted for quite some time after the event with audience members.” He also posed for pictures and shared jokes.
“My favorite line of the night (was): ‘They didn’t care that we were gay; they just wanted our money. The mob knew gays had money long before Macy’s and American Express.’