Happy Birthday, Windy City Times!

Today is a great day for the team at Windy City Media Group. After 25 years, the voice of the Windy City Times remains — a weekly reflection of life in Chicago’s gay community, a printed product that has followed the path of the gay rights movement and adapted to a changing media landscape.

The Windy City Times newspaper first hit the Chicago streets in 1985, the same year the growing AIDS epidemic got notice. In the years that followed, the paper would become a leading source for the city’s gay community to learn what was happening with regard to the disease and to read about the lives of gay men dying in unprecedented numbers. It also became a forceful voice as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Chicagoans fought for rights and legal protections.

“I think what has sustained us is that our motivation has always been about the community,” said Publisher Tracy Baim, one of the original founders of the Windy City Times told the Chicago Tribune. “Whether it’s a protest or a gala, we show people what happened this week in the gay community.”

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The newspaper will publish its 25th anniversary edition Wednesday, featuring images of front pages and reprints of articles from the paper’s first year. Along with the weekly paper , and with a circulation of about 15,000, the Windy City Times also breaks news on its Web site and has capitalized on social media through Twitter and Facebook. Though Baim was one of four founders, she left a couple of years later to start her own gay publication, Outlines. Windy City Times co-founder Jeff McCourt ran the paper through the late 1980s and the 1990s. By 2000, however, the paper was deeply in debt and about to go under. Baim purchased the Windy City Times from McCourt and took over as publisher, shepherding the paper into the digital age and, in 2008, making the newsroom entirely virtual.

I was actually an intern at Windy Media Group working for Windy City Radio, Chicago’s only Gay radio broadcast, at the time, on 105.9FM. They have sense gone on to podcasting but it was such a great time in my life. I was awarded Windy City Times’ 30 Under 30. I learned so much about the community and how to become involved working there. And, Tracy was, and still is, a role model for me and I’m so proud that I was apart of this wonderful organization.

Windy City Times truly is the LGBT persons go-to paper, and they’re always the first ones to report on so many things of interest to the LGBT community.

“I think 25 years from now we’re still going to need a gay media,” she said. “We’re always going to have a need to communicate with each other. That depth, that nourishment will always be needed.”

Happy Birthday, Windy City Times! May you have 25 more years in the industry!

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