LGBT Resource Center History


The LGBT Resource Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign just celebrated 20 years!

Check out our 20 Year Anniversary Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LGBTRC20Year
UIUC Campus LGBTQ History Timeline: 
Sept 1971:
August 1972, Gay Liberation Front formed at U of I. Activities included consciousness raising. 
January 5, 1972: 
Gay Liberation asks for Urbana to amend Sec. 21.38. to not make dressing in non-gender conforming clothing an illegal act. 
Between September 1975-July 1976:  
Gay Illini Coffee House Wednesday night meetings of the Gay Illini took place at the Red Herring at 7:30 and are open to the public.
January 12, 1976:
Gay Switchboard opens.  Phoneline for information can be called from 7pm to 1am as well as for support and crisis hotline. 
January 1976:
Gay Illini resource center opens in YMCA (Student Advocate 1/14/76 heading “Resource Center to Begin Operation)
o The resource center provides a circulating collection of books and publications
o Starts a few times a week from 12-1 or 12-2, goes down to Wednesdays from 12-2 due to time constraints with shared space in the YWCA.
o Transfers to the Union in Fall of 1976. (DI April 29, 1978 “Union Space”)
o GAYLY Illini in front of folder 4 talks about the center opening and taking on a more community education and information service role in addition to a lending library of sorts. 
Gay Illini worked rigorously on the Champaign Human Rights Ordinance
o Open to the public, many members from surrounding community including Danville.  Some sources seemed to point to it as mostly being a male organization.  
o An Affiliate of the National Coalition of Gay Activists
The Courier 1-7-77:
“Conference to Focus on Homosexual Rights” held in Champaign at the union for gay liberation organizations across the state of Illinois
“Gay Illini to Host Pride Week Program (Gay Life 4 march 1977) held at U of I from April 11-17th 1977
Article from Gay Life Friday April 1, 1977 “Gay Appointed Urbana Commission” mentions that Urbana is one of the 35 municipalities in the nation with a gay rights ordinance, but is the only one in Illinois.
Daily Illini, Wednesday July 20, 1977: 
“Champaign Approves Rights Ordinance” Many articles on this day about it in various papers (Gay Life, News Gazette, Courier
Daily Illini Tuesday 26 July 1977:
“City Sets Fine Example for others on Gay Rights”
April 17-24 1983:
The seventh annual Gay Illini awareness week
“Chancellor’s Campuswide Task Force on Sexual Orientation” Final Report: April 16, 1987 submitted by Mary Ellen O’Shaughnessey, Chair.  
(Appointed by Chancellor Thomas E. Everhart in Feb. 1986) submitted a final report on campus climate in 1987.
Board of Trustees adopted a resolution on Sept. 29, 1987 to prohibit discrimination due to sexuality
Illini Week, June 11th, 1987:
“Ikenberry, board affirm UI policy protects gays
Gay and Lesbian Illini assemble a group of individuals to go to the national march on Washington on October 11, 1987
“Chicago gay rights bill ok’d after 15 year battle” Chicago Sun-Times December 22, 1988. 
Approximately 13 years after Urbana, 11 after Champaign
Daily Illini 6/23/89:
“C-U mayors jointly declare special day for gay pride” 
From video with Curt McKay:
“Out on Campus” – Exact years unknown
  • Formed by faculty and staff initially as a social group, but quickly transitioned into more activism work

Worked to: 

  • get Residence halls to allow same-sex couples to live together
  • get gender identity and sexual orientation to be included in the University’s non-discrimination policy

1987 – First report given to the Chancellor on why the campus needs a LGBT Resource center with an office – it was ignored. 

Small, shared space in the Illini Union
YEAR? – $10,000 funding came in to remodel and have a bigger space, so the center could become a place to hang out and socialize as well. 
1993- The Ally Network began
The need for LGBT people and straight people who were supportive, to get some training on how to be supportive but also to form a network to help them know who to talk to on campus if a student had a problem or for other needs. That was developed through the counseling center which had a sexual orientation, diversity, allies committee (SODA).
Soon, there were ally trainings for many of the cultural houses and even Greek ally trainings implemented. 
History of PRIDE (RSO)
  • Gay Liberation Front
  • Gay Illini
  • Gay and Lesbian Illini
  • Lesbian and Gay Illini
  • Changes into People for Lesbian gay and bisexual concerns (PLGBC) Feb 24 1991)
  • Spectrum
  • Pride (Maybe other iterations existed at other times that could not be located)
Watch Curt McKay’s interview: