LGBTQ Controversies: Introduction

[The University of Iowa] “is obnoxiously pro-homosexual” and “has an actively pro-homosexual agenda and they’re not ashamed of it.” (Iowa State Representative Charles Hurley, 1995)1


From 1987 to 2005, I was on the faculty of the College of Nursing at the University of Iowa. I also was actively involved in several efforts to improve the campus climate for LGBTQ employees and students and create a Sexuality Studies Program. The following pieces are excerpts from my forthcoming memoir, Airing the Dirty Laundry: Queer in the Academy. In the midst of my personal experiences with microaggressions, death threats, launching a research agenda in LGBTQ health studies, and a tenure denial, four notable events stood out that affected the larger university climate and therefore my tenure experience in 1996. These events helped to catalyze the campus and led to the formation of the University of Iowa LGBT Staff and Faculty Association and the Sexuality Studies Program, both of which I chaired in the 1990s.