Scarlet reaches back in time for its inspiration and theme starting with its name. In the 1920’s, members of the GLBT community wore a piece of scarlet colored clothing to signal their affiliation to others. Traditionally, scarlet is the color of flame.

Further inspiration came from the "pansy craze" of the early 1930s. Gay life in Chicago, New York, and other cities was more visible and accepted. Lesbian salons attracted sightseers to Towertown (now known as the Magnificent Mile), while drag entertainers were a feature at South Side clubs. The craze made its way into popular literature, and novels with gay or lesbian themes--like The Well of Loneliness (1928), Strange Brother (1931), and A Scarlet Pansy (1932).

The "pansy craze" was short-lived. As the Depression deepened, a series of sex-crime panics made headlines in Chicago and elsewhere. While U of C sociologists had urged the city's leaders to see homosexuality in relation to the complex web of urban social conditions, by the end of the 1930s, as psychology gained popularity, the local authorities and the general public became convinced that homosexuality could be best explained, and dealt with, in terms of individual psychopathology.

It would take close to 50 years before the seeds of the GLBT community were planted in Lakeview. Today, it isn’t necessary to wear a small piece of scarlet, we can display it proudly across the top of our door.

Come in and experience a piece of Chicago history and Chicago history in the making at Scarlet.