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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois in the Cold War Era 1945-1975: Gay Rights on Campus

Gay Rights on Campus

The Gay Illini, circa 1970s

To be gay on college campuses prior to the late 1960s and early 70s was to live a closeted existence.  Homosexuals faced ridicule from other students, a clandestine social atmosphere, and a psychological establishment that believed that homosexuality was something that could be, and should be, “cured.”  The social movements of the 1960s such as Black Power and the anti-war protests also stirred the consciousness of gay men and women on college campuses.  At the University of Illinois, the first gay rights’ group, “Gay Liberation” was formed in 1971 with the stated purpose of advancing “the political and social rights or homosexuals through education of the heterosexual community.”  Throughout the 1970s gay-rights activists worked to pass anti-discrimination ordinances in Champaign and Urbana and to create a more tolerant educational and social environment on the campus and in the community.

University of Illinois Sources:

Office for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns, 1942-2001 (RS 41/2/46): Includes ephemera relating to gay issues as well as three scrapbooks compiled by Buell Dwight Huggins, a University student, and, later, a member of the Mattachine Society, an early gay activist group.

Student Organizations Publications, 1871-  (RS 41/6/840):  Includes information from the Gay Community AIDS Project, Gay Liberation, and the Lesbian and Gay Illini.

Student and Faculty Org. Constitutions & Registration Cards, (RS 41/2/41): Includes information on the Gay Illini, Gay Students Alliance, and Gay Liberation, and others.

Daily Illini, 1874- (Microform in Newspaper Library)



John D'Emilio, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940-1970 (Chicago: 1998).

Shane L. Windmeyer and Pamela W. Freeman, eds, Out on Fraternity Row: Personal Accounts of Being Gay in a College Fraternity (Los Angeles: 1998).

Nancy Moran and Charlotte Bunch, eds., Lesbianism and the Women's Movement (Baltimore: 1975).