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Art and Pep Tells Story of Gay Couple Who Made LGBTQ+ History

Art and Pep Tells Story of Gay Couple Who Made LGBTQ+ History

Art and Pep

The documentaryis now available for streaming on Peacock.

The two men who founded the historic Chicago gay bar Sidetrack, Art Johnston and José Pepe Peña, are the subjects of a new documentary documentary that highlights their roles as LGBTQ+ rights trailblazers.

The film, Art and Pepe, chronicles the couple's 45-year relationship alongside their long fight for LGBTQ+ equality in their community and the nation.

Throughout the 80s and beyond, Sidetrack became a hub for political activism in Chicago, with co-owners Art and Pepe playing keyleadership roles. In an interview with MSNBC, Pepe said, "bars were the center of any activism. We didn't have churches...we didn't have places to meet, so the bars were the natural place."

"I saw the harassment and I saw the way we were treated, and that sort of made a big difference in how I look at things and what things needed to be changed," he continued.

Speaking to Block Club Chicago, executive producer Kevin Hauswirth said, "The story of Chicago politics is the story of an LGBTQ+ uprising. You can point to any big moment in the past 40 years — whether it’s the City Council wars, [Chicago Mayor] Harold Washington or the first passages of LGBTQ-inclusive legislation — and Art and Pep were there for all of it."

The couple also worked on the front lines to help the community during the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Art and Pep uses a mixture of rare archival footage and exclusive interviews to tell the story of Sidetrack and its owners, which is a love story at its core.

“This story couldn’t come at a more important time for our country,” director Mercedes Kane told Block Club Chicago. “Art and Pep will allow families across the country to see this queer love story as a great American love story and the price a community had to pay simply to live and love freely.”

You can watch the teaser trailer for Art and Pep below and stream it now on Peacock.

Art and Pep

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