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LGBTQ Life at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Getting Started

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A Timeline

Day of Silence flyer1970: Triangle Gay Alliance formed in Raleigh, NC.

Lollipop Power founded in Chapel Hill/Carrboro as a non-profit corporation to publish non-sexist children's books.

1974: The Carolina Gay Association was founded as the Gay Awareness Rap Group in February 1974. Later that year, the group successfully applied to be a university-recognized student organization and changed its name to the Carolina Gay Association (CGA). The support, advocacy, and social organization met regularly in Craige dormitory.

The Lesbian Rap Group became the Triangle Area Lesbian Feminists (TALF).

1976: the CGA sponsors the first Southeastern Gay Conference and began publishing Lambda, the first LGBTQ+ student publication in the United States.

1977: Chapel Hill-based Feminary, once called The Feminist Newsletter, makes substantive changes in the focus of the publication to "a feminist journal for the South emphasizing the lesbian vision."

1978: Poet and activist Minnie Bruce Pratt attends UNC-Chapel Hill and joins the editorial board of Feminary.

1980: “Our Day Out” march takes place in Durham.

1985: CGA becomes the Carolina Gay and Lesbian Association (CGLA).

1986: Durham's first annual Pride Parade.

1987: Joe Herzenberg was elected to the Chapel Hill City Council, becoming the South's first openly gay elected official.

1992: CGLA becomes Bisexuals, Gay Men, Lesbians, and Allies for Diversity (B-GLAD).

1993: Southerners on New Ground (SONG) co-founded in Durham by Mandy Carter.

1995: Mike Nelson becomes Carrboro Mayor and the first openly gay person to be elected as a mayor of a North Carolina city.

1998: B-GLAD becomes Queer Network for Change (QNC).

2002: QNC becomes Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender - Straight Alliance (GLBT-SA).

The organization Equality North Carolina forms.

2003: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Center established as a unit within the Office of the Dean of Students.

2006 LGBTQ Center becomes an administratively separate unit reporting directly to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. 

2009: UNC Law School alumnus Mark Kleinschmidt elected Chapel Hill Mayor, the first openly gay mayor in the town's history.

2010: GLBT-SA becomes Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight Alliance (GLBTSA).

2012: GLBTSA becomes Sexuality And Gender Alliance (SAGA).

2013: Lydia Lavelle becomes Carrboro Mayor and the first openly lesbian mayor in North Carolina.

Oral Histories in the Southern Oral History Program

Undergraduate Internship Program 2013-2014: The Sexual Revolution at UNC

Southern Communities: Listening for a Change: History of Gay Men and Transgender People in the South

These interviews by Chris McGinnis, an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, were conducted for an independent study in the fall semester of 2000 and for the Southern Oral History Program in 2001-2002. They give a perspective of gay life in the South, with particular emphasis on North Carolina in the 1960s through the 1980s. The interviews chronicle the development of the gay community in the South and explore early gay bars, social events and festivals of the gay community, gay organizations and activism, and places where gay men met and engaged in public sex, among other topics. Included are interviews with Chapel Hill, N.C., town council member Joseph A. Herzenberg and writer Perry Deane Young. Interviews with Angela Brightfeather and Lily Rose DeVee offer perspectives of transgender individuals.

LGBTQ Life in the South: Interviews explore community, life, and activism of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.

LGBTQ Life in the South: LGBTQ Activism in the North Carolina Triangle Area

A collection of oral history interviews on the topic of local queer life, community, and activism from 1969 to the present. Aaron Lovett, an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, conducted these interviews as part of his independent research project in the History department in summer 2014. The study was advised by Dr. Rachel Seidman, Associate Director of the Southern Oral History Program. This study traces the development of queer activism from social organizing in the early 1970s, to the beginning of statewide lobbying and political activism in the early 1990s, and to recent developments in North Carolina regarding pro-LGBTQ laws such as the North Carolina School Violence Prevention Act and anti-LGBTQ legislation such as Amendment One. LGBTQ activists interviewed include feminist theorist Alexis Pauline Gumbs, HIV/AIDS advocate Carolyn McAllaster, and LGBTQ lobbyist Ian Palmquist. This study connects local and statewide LGBTQ events with regional and national trends, analyzes the nature of the Triangle area's LGBTQ community in relation to rest of the South, and documents changes and continuities in local LGBTQ life and culture.

LGBTQ Life in the South: Sweet Tea Interviews by E. Patrick Johnson

These interviews comprise a portion of the set done by E. Patrick Johnson between 2003 and 2006 as research for his book (and performances of) Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South (2008). Major topics include when interviewees realized they were gay or not like other boys, the role of the church in their upbringing, geographic segregation in their town, gender roles at home, gay slang, coming out, college years, the impact of HIV/AIDs on their lives, and their decisions to continue to live in the South or to emigrate upon reaching adulthood. These interviews challenge traditional stereotypes of black gay men as closeted or repressed and reveal how black gay men carve out a place for themselves within their communities in the South.

Newspapers and Digital Collections

In addition to national and state news outlets, LGBTQ life at UNC-Chapel Hill was also covered in many campus publications. These resources are available at Wilson Special Collections Library and many can be found online. 

The Daily Tar Heel

Published since 1893, The Daily Tar Heel is the primary student newspaper at UNC-Chapel Hill and includes coverage of student activities and events through news articles, photographs, editorials, and letters to the editor. The paper can be accessed on microfilm in the North Carolina Collection. The paper is freely available for the years February 1893 – December 2008 via the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center. Library patrons or users affiliated with UNC have free access to the paper via the database

America's News: This is a subscription service available to users affiliated with UNC-Chapel Hill and to patrons in the library buildings. Of particular note, this database provides access to historical and current newspaper content from the Durham Herald-SunThe News and Observer, The Greensboro News & Record, and The Charlotte Observer.

DigitalNC: This site contains a wealth of useful resources from across North Carolina including community newspapers, student newspapers, and yearbooks. UNC-Chapel Hill's yearbook the Yackety Yack is digitized here.