LGBT+ Student Life at Iowa State University: 1970-1999

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The section addresses various hand-selected events that demonstrate LGBT+ activism at Iowa State University.


Gays Plan Activities for the Fall 1974

This ISU Daily News Clipping talks about the activities that the Gay People's Liberation Alliance is planning for the fall of 74'. It also mentions the transition of the GPLA to the new Gay People's Alliance.


Gay Denim Day 1974

This ISU Daily Clipping talks about a newly-declared "Gay Denim Day," in which, if you wore denim, you were gay in order to combat stigma. The article was written after the fact and notes that Gay Denim Day was a success.


Dimension 5 Videos 1975

On October 8th, 1974, students from the Gay People’s Alliance and the Lesbian Alliance demonstrated on what might have been one of the biggest acts of activism and resistance in the decade when they appeared in a local tv station in Ames called WOI-TV. The invitation to participate in the program arose from a controversial episode of Marcus Welby M.D. titled “The Outrage” aired by ABC TV. In the fictional drama, a mother discovers that her teenage boy was sexually assaulted by one of his school teachers when they were out at a camping trip. The teenager was too ashamed to admit it to his mother but eventually confessed that it was his male science teacher that had done it. In Ames, the Gay People’s Alliance and the Lesbian Alliance wanted it to be pulled, but WOI-TV was not doing it. The TV station, nonetheless, invited both groups to participate in Betty Lou Varnum’s “Dimension Five” program that aired in central Iowa at 10PM. The program talked mostly about the Marcus Welby M.D. episode, as well as many questions that the host had. Further along the night, the phone line was opened for callers, and many people called quoting Bible verses at them, which represented how the LGBT+ community was being perceived in Ames. The segment was viewed so frequently that it had brought back to life the ratings for the show. This broadcast, furthermore, represented how student activism here at Iowa State has influenced and shaped the views on the LGBT+ community in Iowa, and how they refused to stay silent in the midst of an injustice. YouTube links 1 and 2.


Gay Pride Week

This ISU Daily News Clipping talks about the first Gay Pride Week being observed in Iowa.


Gay Hotline Revived by GLSO 1986

Revival of Gay student hotline after being cancelled. The Gay student hotline was revived in 1986 after having previously been cancelled.


Iowa State Ralliers Come Out for Minority Rights 1988

On April 21, 1988, the Gay/Lesbian Student Outreach (GLSO) organized a rally for minority rights south of the campanile on campus. The rally invited not on only gender and sexually diverse individuals, but racial and ethnically underrepresented students. They had speakers by various organizations in addition to the GLSO. Overall, the rally was supported by student government officials and was an act of activism by the GLSO.


GSB Approves Thompson 1988

In April of 1988, Gay/Lesbian Student Outreach President (GLSO) President, Heather Thompson, was nominated to the Student Body Supreme Court. There were many students who opposed her, but there were also students who thought she would make an excellent contribution to the Student Government.


Flag Display 1990

As part of Gay/Lesbian Student Outreach’s awareness day, the organization decided to dye an American flag red, and write over it “102,621 reported AIDS cases as of August 1989”. It was displayed in the Memorial Union and it was a bold act of activism,as it caused a lot of public outrage. The flag display caused an uproar and the ISU administration wanted it to be taken down. Story County Attorney Mary Richard determined that this display does didnot violate Iowa law.



Targeting the Exclusionary ROTC Policy 1991

In October of 1991, the Gay/Lesbian Campus Outreach became vocal about the Reserved Officers Training Corp programs at colleges and universities around the United States. They expressed how it wasnot okay that they were not letting homosexuals participate in the programs.



LGBA Coming Out Day 1991

The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Alliance observed National Coming Out Day in 1991.


BGLAD Rally 1991

Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Awareness Days (BGLAD) was an event in which multicultural issues were supposed to be discussed, but gay rights also entered the conversation. The rally was overcome by the previously disbarred Heterosexual Society, which now named themselves as the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). They were met with many criticisms about being LGBT+,and many students spoke against them. In the picture,you can see protesters in the background.


Phi Alpha Gamma 1991

Phi Alpha Gamma was a social fraternity formed to combat heteronormativity and homophobia. They hosted a variety of events throughout their time as an active campus organization. Most notably, they held the first "reverse campaniling" or "kiss-in" events. This event was hosted near the ISU campanile in order to create visibility over being LGBT+ and to create positive change.


ISU Advocate Appointment 1992

On November 24, 1992 Iowa State University hired its first advocate for students belonging to the LGBT+ community on campus. Tom Owings, was a graduate student in English who was hired for the task of becoming an active voice for LGBT+student affairs. They also wanted to unite the community as a whole, as the community had become predominantly gay men.


Race and LGBT+ 1997

Unfortunately, the archives currently contain only limited information about the intersection of race and ethnicity with the LGBT+ experience at ISU. We do know, however, that Sabrina Sojourner gave a lecture at Iowa State on race, gender, and coming out. Also included here are promotional materials for an LGBT People of Color social support group.


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