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GW Pride records

 Collection
Identifier: RG0122

Collection Scope and Content

The collection includes several banners and posters, meeting minutes and notes, flyers and advertisements for GW Pride events, a number of newspaper articles about events and gay-related issues, revisions of the constitution, documents and memoranda pertaining to the change in the University's non-discrimination policy, and an assortment of photos, brochures, and other ephemera. The material dates from 1971 to 2005, with the bulk of the materials comprising the periods of 1971-1975, 1985-1987, and 1995-1999.

Dates

  • 1971-2005

Creator

Restrictions on Access

Collection is open to research.

Restrictions on Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Historical or Biographical Note

A small group of students in October 1971 started the GW Gay Liberation Alliance (GLA), which received recognition the following month as the Gay People's Alliance (GPA). It appears that the GPA lapsed and was revived in 1976, briefly under the name “Gay Students of GW” (GSGW), but soon reverted to the Gay People’s Alliance. The group became the Lesbian and Gay People's Alliance (LGPA) around 1986, and the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Alliance (LGBA) in the mid-1990s. In 2000, “transgender” was added to the name. Group leaders eventually settled on the neutral and inclusive name GW Pride in 2002, although GW Pride had been used since about 1999 as a nickname of the club. Allan Vick, the founder of the GPA, told The Hatchet that the goal of the club was to help gay students "deal with themselves" and help straight students in “breaking the stereotyped image of gay life” (Hatchet, Oct. 14, 1971). In the early years, the Gay People's Alliance sponsored Halloween costume parties, Valentine's Day dances, drag shows, question and answer sessions, and even a 1979 lecture by Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, expelled from the Air Force for his sexual orientation. The monthly coffeehouses, at which artistic events took place, remained on the agenda for most of the organization's history.

GW Pride successfully engaged alumni, networked with neighboring schools, addressed concerns of fraternity and sorority life, discussed gay student-related issues with administrators, held a variety of lectures and panels, and even led the struggle for changes of University policy, including the 1978 commitment of the University to honor the District of Columbia's human rights code, the 1990 change in the non-discrimination policy, and the turn of the century push to change the “don't ask, don't tell” policy of the University's Naval ROTC.

GW Pride, uniquely among gay and lesbian student organizations in the District of Columbia, encountered little resistance to its foundation and recognition from the University community. Because of this, GW Pride, with open membership for all DC area students, has often served as a leader in not only providing community and security for gay and lesbian students in the area, but also in helping to build and strengthen other student groups.

GW Pride helped Gallaudet University's gay and lesbian student group to gain recognition from the administration and funding from the student government. The University of Maryland's student group, the first in the nation to receive state recognition and funding, suffered a crisis in the early and mid-1980s when the student government threatened to deny the group funding; in response, GW Pride launched a successful campaign for the group to maintain student funding. Many Catholic University students have attended GW Pride events since the Catholic University administration consistently denied recognition to the gay and lesbian student group on campus throughout the 1980s. The strongest alliance of all, however, was with Gay People of Georgetown University, later GU Pride, which filed suit against Georgetown University in 1980 in a court battle that lasted 8 years.

During the early and mid-1980s, the HIV/AIDS crisis emerged. GW Pride was active in trying to combat misconceptions about the link between HIV/AIDS and homosexuality. GW Pride, throughout its history, would continue to distribute information on the dangers of HIV/AIDS and the benefits of safe sex, as well as help to fundraise for programs that helped people with the disease, such as the Whitman-Walker Clinic based in D. C. In 1997, GW Pride held an “Alumni Gayla” with special guests Candace Gingrich, Rep. Barney Frank, and DC activist Franklin Kameny, attracting many of the group's alumni from the previous 25 years. In its later years, GW Pride struggled with continuity between college generations, even though it remained the third largest student organization on campus after Hillel and the College Democrats. Because GW Pride was best known for its social events and atmosphere, other gay and lesbian student groups have occasionally arisen with different focuses: Queers, Dykes, and Femmes (QDF), a group with a more artistic focus, existed for a short time around 2000 to 2002, Lambda Law in the law school has a long history dating back many years, a group representing gay and lesbian alumni formed to pressure the Alumni Association to support pro-gay positions in the policy debates at the University in the late 1980s, and finally, the Out Crowd, which was founded as a support group in 2000 for gay students who were just coming out, eventually expanded its programs and replaced GW Pride as the major political and social gay and lesbian student organization at the University.

Extent

3 Linear Feet (2 document boxes, 1 flat box)

Language

English

Abstract

GW Pride was a group formed in 1971 to break "the stereotypical image of gaylife." The collection includes several banners and posters, meeting minutes and notes, flyers and advertisements for GW Pride events, a number of newspaper articles about events and gay-related issues, revisions of the constitution, documents and memoranda pertaining to the change in the University’s non-discrimination policy, and an assortment of photos, brochures, and other ephemera.

Collection Organization

The collection has been arranged alphabetically by folder. The original folder titles were kept when feasible. Due to the original disarray of the collection, numerous files had to be interfiled into relevant folders. The folders titled “Organizational Files” are a compilation of files that did not fit into any of the other folders.

Physical Location

Materials may be stored off-site, and may require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.

Acquisition Information

These records were transferred to the archives in 2005, when GW Pride lost its office space and went through a re-organization.
Title
Guide to the GW Pride records,
Status
Completed
Author
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Date
2007
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

Contact:
2130 H Street NW
Washington 20052 United States of America