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Lesbian Studies: Gay Liberation Front @ U of KY

The research and study of lesbians.

Historical Background of Gay Liberation Front

Following the Stonewall Riots, the first Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was formed in New York City in the summer of 1969. The name was developed along the lines of the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam. GLF was a political group made up of different (not always agreeing) factions that linked sexual expression to the radical political agenda of the time period. It was a new wave of gay activism. The group was made up of both seasoned activists and never-done-so before activists. GLF grew from New York City with chapters being established in other states, including Kentucky, and in other countries. Though it was the New York Chapter that drew the most women members while other chapters were predominately gay white men. "The GLF combined socialist ideas of revolution, attacks on sexism, calls for sexual liberation, and celebration of the counterculture in equal parts; it was a heady but volatile brew." Older gay activist organizations  were not sure about the direction of GLF and didn't always approve of the groups tactics, allies, and radical politics. But the momentum was there to be shared, and activists who were not necessarily sole proponents of GLF, or the older gay and lesbian organizations, formed subgroups within GLF. One of the women's groups that developed during the heyday of GLF was the Radicalesbians (1970) that produced the manifesto "The Woman-Identified Woman," lesbian feminism and lesbian separatism. There was also the GLF Women's Caucus that maintained ties with GLF. In short order, all was not well within GLF; there were ongoing concerns about the group's politics, and there were factions that did not agree with the affiliates that GLF chose as allies. The formation of subgroups of shared likeness had not solved the ongoing disharmony within GLF.  At the end of 1969, GLF split and members who left the group formed the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) with bylaws that stated the organization's main focus was the homosexual cause, and they would not pledge their support to any political party, political candidate, or organization that did not support the homosexual cause. By 1971, the GLF in New York City had played-out, and other chapters would soon follow. The new wave of activism would continue, especially with the call for gay student organizations and classes on university campuses.

Quote Source:

Kissack, Terence. "Gay Liberation Front." Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered History in America. Ed. Marc Stein. Vol. 1. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2004. 439-441. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 20 July 2016.

Other Sources:

Gay Liberation Front (GLF), an archived website exhibit, by the New York Public Library

Gay Liberation Front, a website with many resource links, by Pegan Press Books

Gay Liberation Front "Student Organization" Led Fight at University of Kentucky

Source: The Kentuckian: official year book fo the University of Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky. 1983. p.87. [Year book collection online via Explore UK.]

UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY: Singletary v Gay Liberation Front @ U of KY

TIME LINE:

Aug. 1971 G. Robert Ross, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, forwarded to the Vice President's Group a list of active groups associated with the Gay Liberation. "My informant who is usually reliable indicates that those groups identified by the letter "R" are currently recognized by the institutions where they are located." The list was actually page 18, titled We're Everywhere, from a publication by Gay Sunshine Press. There were 14 institutions with the letter "R" written next to their names in the margins of the columns.

Nov. 1971  Gay Liberation Front (GLF), a student organization, is founded at the University of Kentucky with Bruce Kraus, President; Bonnie Jacobs, Vice President; Charles E. Chaney, Jr, Secretary; and Peter J. Taylor, Treasurer. Faculty Advisor was Wayne H. Davis in the Zoology Department. Sponsor was Alan S. Newman in the Department of Political Science. Sharon Greene was designated as the GLF member authorized to reserve University facilities on behalf of the organization. With the paperwork completed, GLF applied to become a recognized student organization at the University of Kentucky (UK) on November 11, 1971.

The application request was denied by Jack Hall, Dean of Students; and Robert G. Zumwinkle, Vice President for Student Affairs.

Dec. 1971 List of 13 institutions with formally recognized gay or homophile organizations, received at the University of Kentucky from Dr. Robert Ross at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Cornell University / Columbia University / Northern Illinois University / Sacramento State College / San Francisco State College / University of California at Berkeley / University of Chicago / University of Indiana / University of Iowa / University of Kansas / University of Michigan / University of Minnesota / University of Nebraska

Nov. 1972   GLF filed an appeal with the UK Appeals Board, chaired by Paul Willis [future Dean of UK Libraries]. The Appeals Board approved for GLF to become a student organization. The board vote was 8 - 1. The board was made up of 6 faculty and 3 students.

Nov. 1972   UK President Otis A. Singletary overturned the University of Kentucky Appeals Board's advisory decision. GLF was again denied the possibility of becoming a student organization.

Dec. 1972  GLF submitted a second application to become a recognized student organization at the University of Kentucky with Peter J. Taylor, President; Steven K. Lubin, Vice President [a faculty member]; Robert B. Morgan, Secretary; and Douglas Board as Treasurer. [On the completed application, a note was added to Douglas Board's name, "Peoples Party Caucus Representative."] Douglas Board was also designated as the GLF member authorized to reserve University facilities on behalf of the organization. Faculty Advisor was Wayne H. Davis in the Zoology Department. University Advisor was Steven K. Lubin, in the Department of Human Development and the Department of Family Relations. Sponsor was Alan S. Newman in the Department of Political Science. The application request was submitted December 28, 1972.

Jan. 1973   UK filed suit in the U.S. District Court asking a declaratory judgment on the denial of the Gay Liberation Front as a student organization. [United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, Civil Action, Otis A. Singletary vs. Gay Liberation Front of the University of Kentucky, File Number 2466]. 

There were 13 Gay Liberation Front students at UK, and Peter Taylor was the new president. GLF was represented by Richard N. Rose on behalf of the Kentucky Civil Liberties Union. Richard Rose filed a counter-claim. [United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, at Lexington, Counter-Claim, Otis A. Singletary vs. Gay Liberation Front of the University of Kentucky, NO. 2466].

Oct. 10, 1973  United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, Lexington, Otis A. Singletary vs Gay Liberation Front of the University of Kentucky, et al, No.2466. Signed by Judge Bernard T. Moynahan, Jr.

"1) The Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is hereby sustained.

2) Summary Judgment is hereby entered on behalf of the plaintiff herein.

3) Plaintiff's denial of defendant's application for the registration of the Gay Liberation Front is a matter which is properly within his administrative discretion as President of the University of Kentucky and said denial is not violative of rights secured to the defendants by the Constitution of the United States or the amendments thereto.

4) The defendants' counterclaim herein is hereby ordered dismissed."

May 9, 1974   No.73-2260 United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Otis A. Singletary v. Peter J. Taylor, individually and as President of the Gay Liberation Front at the University of Kentucky. Before Circuit Judges Peck, McCree, and Lively.

"... As thus presented to the district court and this court there was no showing that denial of the application for registration as a student organization was anything other than a permissible discretionary decision of the president of the University which did not involve rights guaranteed by the First Amendment."

SOURCES:

1. No.73-2260 United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Otis A. Singletary v. Peter J. Taylor, individually and as President of the Gay Liberation Front at the University of Kentucky. Available at the National Archives at Atlanta. (1974)

2. United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, Lexington, Otis A. Singletary vs Gay Liberation Front of the University of Kentucky, et al, No.2466. Signed by Judge Bernard T. Moynahan, Jr. Available at the National Archives at Atlanta. (1973)

3. United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, Civil Action, Otis A. Singletary vs. Gay Liberation Front of the University of Kentucky, File Number 2466 (1972).  Available within University of Kentucky Special Collections, Otis Singletary Papers, File 1979ua003 102.1, New Box 102, President's Office, Gay Liberation, Folder 2.

4. United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, at Lexington, Counter-Claim, Otis A. Singletary vs. Gay Liberation Front of the University of Kentucky, NO. 2466 (1972). Available within University of Kentucky Special Collections, Otis Singletary Papers, File 1979ua003 102.1, New Box 102, President's Office, Gay Liberation, Folder 2.

5. University of Kentucky Special Collections, Otis Singletary Papers, File 1979ua003 102.1, New Box 102, President's Office, Gay Liberation Folders 1 and 2.

6. University of Kentucky Special Collections, Otis Singletary Papers, File 1979ua003, Box 4, Routine RESTRICTED 71-72, Gay Liberation Folder.

7. Timeline of Gay History in Lexington and Environs, website by Jeff Jones, 1998.

8. "Lexington, KY," Kentucky New Era, 01/06/1973, p.3, col. 1 [online].

9. "Text of the letter denying GLF registration," Kentucky Kernel, 12/05/1972, p.3.

10. "Homosexuals unite gains school OK," Toledo Blade, 11/15/1972, p.14, col.1 [online].

11. "UK advised to reject plans of Gay Lib group," Louisville Courier Journal, 05/02/1972.

12. "Gay Liberation Alliance can't be registered at UK," Lexington Herald, 05/02/1972.

13. "The university vs gay liberation: a test of ideas," Louisville Courier Journal, 04/28/1972.

14. Richard Wilson, " 'Gay lib' hits campus: Homosexuals are seeking rights, recognition at UK," Louisville Courier Journal, 04/24/1972.

15. Memorandum  from Robert Zumwinkle, Vice President for Student Affairs, to President Otis A. Singletary, 12/09/1971. List of institutions that have recognized gay or homophile organizations. List was compiled by Dr. Robert Ross, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Memorandum within the University of Kentucky Special Collections, Otis Singletary Papers, File 1979ua003 102.1, New Box 102, President's Office, Gay Liberation Folder 1.

16. Note from G. Robert Ross, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, to the Vice Presidents' Group, dated 08/06/1971. Photocopy of letter and the page 18, titled We're Everywhere, are within the University of Kentucky Special Collections, Otis Singletary Papers, File 1979ua003 102.1, New Box 102, President's Office, Gay Liberation Folder 1.

OTHER INFORMATION:

1.  It would take little more than a decade before there was a gay and lesbian student organization at the University of Kentucky. The Gay and Lesbian Union of Students (GALUS) was established in 1982. The term "lesbian" was being used in addition to the term "gay" which had not been the case in 1971.

2.  Gay Services Organization (GSO) grew out of the UK Gay Liberation Front in 1977. GSO is now known as Pride Community Services Organization (PCSO).

3.  We're Everywhere. Note at bottom of page: "Please send corrections, changes of address to Gay Sushine." The Gay Sunshine Press is located in San Francisco, CA.

4. Interview with Peter Taylor. The Last Gospel of the Pagan Babies: Out Takes - Univ. KY vs Sexual Outlaws, produced by Jean Donohue.