by Nissa Thor, UB DLIS graduate student
In 1970, in the aftermath of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, a group of UB undergraduates started this campus’s first undergraduate student organization for gay students, the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). GLF was both a social and political organization for gay men at UB. As the years went on and attitudes changed, the organization too changed its name to be more inclusive to the other members of the community. In 1980, GLF became the Gay People’s Alliance. In 1982, the organization changed its name once again, to Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GALA). Around 1989, GALA became the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Alliance (LGBA).
The undergraduate group was not the only LGB organization on campus. UB has had groups for graduate students (GGALA) and law students (OUTLAW), as well as for faculty and staff. In fact, the Graduate Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GGALA), which unfortunately disbanded in 1996 due to lack of involvement, was the only graduate gay and lesbian student organization in Western New York.
While the name of the organization has changed over the years, the central focus has not. Providing a safe space for students to socialize and work to fight homophobia on (and off) campus, as well as events for education and celebration, such as coffee houses, conferences, ‘Coming Out Week’ and Denim Day, have remained important parts of the organization during the 70s, 80s, and 90s.
Documents relating to the history of LGBT at the University at Buffalo have been digitized and are available online: http://digital.lib.buffalo.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/LIB-UA017. This collection will continue to grow to encompass more items from the 1970s to 1990s, and in time will include the 2000’s. If you would like to donate materials related to the LGBT community at UB, please contact University Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org
*This post is part of an occasional series written by University Archives graduate assistants and practicum students. To prepare students for careers in Special Collections, our graduate assistants survey, process, and describe archival collections, digitize items for online use, and provide reference service to patrons. These posts allow our students to share their experience and impressions of working with primary source material in the Archives.