Queer on Campus: 1970's to the Present
The Lesbian Gay Male Programs Office (LGMPO), created in 1971, is the oldest office of its type in the country.1 From the start, members of its administration and students seeking its resources felt threatened by individuals and the general social climate on campus. There were several complaints that there was no sign that indicated that the LGMPO was located on the third floor of the Union, and that the space above the LGBT bookshelf in the student Barnes and Noble was left intentionally blank. There are also records of complaints that some employees at the Union called the third floor corridor “Fag Alley."2
LGMBPO flyers posted around campus were defaced with grafitti and slurs throughout the 80's and 90's.
Even some of the LGBTQ community felt excluded from queer groups or functions; several records indicate that bisexual women especially not only faced prejudice and harassment on campus, but didn’t feel welcome in many LGBTQ spaces. U-M’s AIDS Task Force didn’t include a gay man when it was formed, causing concern about the perspectives reflected by the force.3 Even as resources and events for LGBTQ students abounded on campus during the 1990's and the social and political climate began to improve slowly throughout the early 21st century, queer students still felt the presence of stereotypes and behaviors that border edon harassment on campus, as well as a lack of solidarity among queer students that hold other identities, such as queer women of color. For example, records from director Ronni Sanlo’s files in 1996 indicated that anti-gay graffiti was written up as racist, because it didn’t have its own category of discrimination yet.
"I have nothing personal against gays, but being exposed to so much of their campaigning at East Quad can be frustrating."
"...a lot of heterosexuals would like [homosexual people] to go back into the closet. They would get a lot more respect if they did!!"
"Homosexuals certainly deserve help with their problem. ... It is not the fault of gay people that they are gay, but the predicament should not be pushed on normal people. We're normal, gays are abnormal. Thats a fact."
1. "Organizational Analysis of the LGBPO," Ronni Sanlo Files, 1996, Box 1, University of Michigan: Office of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Affairs, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.
2. “Task Force on Sexual Orientation, 1987," University of Michigan: Office of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Affairs, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.
3. Box 2, University of Michigan: Office of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Affairs, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.