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Queer @ Stanford


The social, cultural and political history of homosexuality at Stanford is a complex and fragmentary story of change and discontinuity, of private lives and public struggles. From the early years of the University to the end of the last decade, the following chronology offers a brief sampling of people and events central to that history.

1911-12: In the earliest documented homosexual relationship at Stanford, Alberta Lucille Hart and her lover enroll as junior transfers. Hart returns in 1916 for one quarter at the Medical School. (In later years Hart would go on, dressing as a man, to practice radiology and publish a 1936 novel, "The Undaunted," featuring a homosexual character.)

1930-32: Harry Hay attends Stanford as a freshman and sophomore. In fall, 1931, he announces his homosexuality to several nonplussed dorm neighbors. Hay leaves Stanford after his sophomore year for financial reasons. (In 1950, Hay would go on to found the Mattachine Society, the first major homosexual rights group in the country.)

1953: Jane Rule enrolls for one quarter in the English graduate program, where she submits lesbian-themed short stories to her writing professor, Wallace Stegner. (Rule would go on to publish the classic lesbian novel "Desert of the Heart" in 1964.)

November 1965: The Stanford Sexual Rights Forum registers as a voluntary student organization, the earliest known student group nationally to advocate civil rights for homosexuals. Members also seek change in campus regulations limiting visits between men and women in dormitories, and lobby for access to contraceptives at the Student Health Service. The group is active through spring 1966.

January-May 1968: Wendell Anderson (probably a pseudonym for an unidentified Stanford student) organizes the Student Homophile League of Stanford University, the second known homosexual student group in the nation.

November 1970: Stanford community members found the Stanford Gay Students Union, a social support and consciousness-raising group of men and women, students and non-students meeting off-campus in private homes. The founding of GSU marks the beginning of the continuous organizational history of gay men and lesbians at Stanford.

January 1971: Maud Haimson, a senior in English, and Fred Oakford, a senior in history, announce GSU-sponsored dormitory discussions on homosexuality in a Stanford Daily viewpoint; they are the first students to come out in The Daily.

Late December 1971-early January 1972: The GSU receives recognition as a registered voluntary student organization under a new name, possibly chosen to suggest the group widening scope: The Gay People's Union.

Most notable among these organizations within GLAS are the Women's Collective: the Gay and Lesbian Awareness (GALA) week committee. which organizes an annual GALA week activities that promote awareness and visibility of gay and lesbian students on the Stanford campus: and the Gay and Lesbian Speakers Bureau, which as part of the Residential Education policy of the University provided educational outreach to the dormitories and other residences by sending gay and lesbian students to speak about their personal experiences growing up. living at Stanford, etc.

Winter Quarter 1973: Under the auspices of the predecessor of the Innovative Academic Courses program, community activist Joel Roberts teaches the first gay studies course at Stanford.

1973-74: During Fall Quarter, GPU moves from a desk in the Old Union Clubhouse to a small office in the Old Firehouse. By summer, the group is using the entire second floor of the building.

1974-77: GPU receives a three-year, $90,000 grant from the state of California — the first California state funding for a gay organization — to establish the Gay Community of Concern (GCC), an independent pilot program providing liaison between the gay community and Bay Area mental health agencies and professionals. While It was a separate entity from GPU, many of the members of GCC were also members of GPU.

June 1974: GPU sponsors the first gay and lesbian awareness week on campus.

1975-76: GPU members for the first time campaign unsuccessfully to have the Stanford Career Planning and Placement Center closed to employers who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

April 1976: At the urging of GPU members, Stanford librarians move publications on homosexuality from locked stacks to open stacks.

1977: Donald Howard, a founder of the Modern Language Association Gay Caucus in 1973, is appointed professor of English — the first documented openly gay scholar hired with tenure at Stanford. (Howard dies of AIDS in 1987 — the first professor whose death is publicly attributed to the disease.). GCC disbands.

Spring 1978: A group of students organize the Gay Counseling Group at the Bridge, with members certified by the Stanford Peer Counseling Program.

October 1979: Four community members carry the GPU banner in the first National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights, joining over 100,000 other demonstrators in the nation's capital.

March 6, 1984: Gay Liberation statues are vandalized. A lone vandal wielding a hammer severely damages four life-size statues by artist George Segal titled Gay Liberation. The sculpture of two males standing next to each other and two women seated on a park bench was installed in February on Lomita Mall.

October 1, 1991: Gay rights protesters interrupt Opening Day Centennial speech by Governor Pete because of his veto the previous day of a bill that would have strengthened homosexual rights.

May 1994: Gay Liberation statues are again vandalized, this time by seven varsity athletes, who are disciplined.

2000: The Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community Center renamed the LGBT Community Resources Center

2001: Gender identity added to Stanford’s non-discrimination policy

2004: Out on the Farm, a documentary chronicles the history of the Stanford lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and its accomplishments over the past thirty years is released. The documentary features interviews with faculty, staff, students, and prominent alumni.

September 2010: ASSU passes a bill encouraging the creation of a minor in queer studies.

2011: The LGBT-CRC and Vaden Health Center found the Weiland Health Initiative, supported by a gift from alumnus Ric Weiland, to promote mental health and wellness across the spectrum of gender identities and sexual orientations through education, training and clinical services at Stanford and beyond.

2012: The Stanford Program in Feminist Studies and the Queer Studies Coalition collaborate on the University’s first queer studies lecture series, which is offered as a 1-unit class.

2017: The LGBT Community Resources Center is renamed Queer Student Resources; launch of Gender-Inclusive Stanford, a campus-wide effort to make Stanford a place where students of all genders and sexualities can flourish, focusing on institutional/culture change in the areas of teaching and learning, information infrastructure, enhanced health and wellness resources and the built environment.