1970 Louis “Lou” Crompton, noted scholar of 19th century British literature and pioneer in gay studies organizes an interdisciplinary course, Pro-Seminar in Homophile Studies, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), the second such course to be provided at a university in the United States (personal communication, 2009). The course was in line with the National Institute on Mental Health Task Force on Homosexuality recommendation that interdepartmental courses be provided at colleges. The course was coordinated by Lou Crompton, with Jim Cole (faculty in the Clinical Training Program in Psychology) being the spokesperson for the course, and Louis Martin, a psychiatrist at the University Health Center, was on call as a consultant.
Roxanne Dunbar taught the first course at UC-Berkeley but Lou was no aware of her course, which was taught in the spring and not interdisciplinary. Lou’s course was taught in the fall. Lou’s course was considered a medical subject at the time. Evelyn Hooker sends a hand-written letter to Lou Crompton in reply that commends him on his excellent outline for the “Pro-Seminar in Homophile Studies”, July 10, 1970.
From a brief history of relations about United Ministries in Higher Education, UMHE-Lincoln and the Lincoln Gay Action Group (a copy obtained from Lou Crompton Archives at UNL and dated 4/20/71): Late in the fall of 1970, UMHE (United Ministries in Higher Education) was approached by individuals identifying as gay who wanted a place to meet. After discussion and in light of their open house policy, it was agreed to allow the group to meet. They were eventually asked for space and also agreed.
June 23, 1971 Remarks to the Presbyterian Synod of Nebraska by Larry Doerr, about his ministry with and support of the Gay Action Group on campus. His remarks were followed by, “…the distribution of a packet of materials concerning our ministry with the Gay Action Group, including a brief history of our work with that work, including the editorial incident, a letter supporting our work from the University Counseling Service, the Statement on ministry to homosexuals made in June 1968 by the Presbytery of Nebraska City, the 1970 Statement on Homosexuality by the National Association for Mental Health, and a brief bibliography of books available on the issues of homosexuality. Questions and discussion followed…”
The brief history (above) also addresses the editorial incident, which involved the newsletter being published that included an explicitly pornographic editorial by the editor of the newsletter, and which resulted in his being asked to resign. While the editor believed his editorial was educational, his judgment about what was appropriate to issue in the name of the group and UMHE was questionable.
The history includes the recommendation adopted by the Nebraska City Presbytery in 1968 and was originally published in the 1967 issue of Social Action magazine. The recommendation included encouragement of education and open and honest discussion about homosexuality and acknowledges that fear of homosexuality is widespread and the church has a responsibility to help eliminate the ignorance upon which fear is based; be willing to examine its attitudes about sex in general, ceasing discrimination against homosexuals pe se and speaking out for repeal of laws which criminalize private consenting behavior between adults.
1970's: KZUM (89.3) Community Radio has the Wimmin's Show as part of its programming. The show continues to the present time. Source: Deb Anderson, current and long time (and current) host for the Wimmin's Show.
1971 The University of Nebraska Gay Action Group starts in January, with student president, Joe Creason. Gay and lesbian students, led by Joe, met in October 1970 to form a group, but did not ask for formal recognition till January 1971. Lou Crompton served as the advisor for the Gay Action Group, which later became the UNL Gay/Lesbian Student Association (personal communication, 2009). Terry Carpenter introduces Legislative Bill 443 (first read 1/27/71), which would prohibit instruction on any aberrant sexual behavior at any public institution of higher education except as prescribed and to provide for enforcement (from copy of LB443 in Lou Crompton archives). UNGAG has a newsletter (date not seen on copy) with information about the rap line, the coffee house, National Gay Thanksgiving in Madison, WI (and a possible road trip), the capitol and campus scenes, and more. Comment on the last page, “The regents don’t seem to upset about UNGAG but watch them squirm when a gay candidate files for a regent post. (Don’t kid yourself, it just may happen.)”
Nebraska Legislative Senator Terry Carpenter (Scottsbluff) attempted to get Lou Crompton’s course banned and attempted to obtain the names of the students taking the course. Carpenter introduced a bill that is defeated. Terry Carpenter later publishes the preface from the a book by Burger, Homosexuality: Sickness as a way of life (written by a psychiatrist who thought gays were masochists) as a letter to the editor. When this information becomes public, Carpenter is embarrassed and later leaves the senate. Ernie Chambers, an ally to the LGB community, was elected as a representative from Omaha and filled Carpenter’s seat in the Senate. The first time the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was introduced in the NE Legislature and he heard from the opponents is when Chambers became a supporter of equal rights for LGBT people (notes form a conversation with Lou, 1/7/09).
1972 At the Republican Convention that nominated Nixon was the one person who didn’t support Nixon for President and he nominated an imaginary “Joe”. Carpenter had scheduled hearings about the class in Omaha and Nixon arrived in Omaha on the day of the hearing, deflecting attention away from the course and the controversy around it. At the hearing, when Carpenter asked Louis Martin what his orientation was and he answered that it wasn’t relevant and others did not end up being asked.
Women’s Action Group at UNL brings Phyllis Lyons and Del Martin to speak at UNL. Jack Baker (pioneer for same sex marriage rights) from Minneapolis was also brought to campus because he and his boyfriend had applied for a marriage license and it was denied.
The newsletter of the Lincoln and University of Nebraska Gay Action Groups is “The Liberator”. The April 23, 1972 edition is on political information and candidates and encourages readers to make their presence known at the polls and states that Nebraska has over 100,000 gay citizens. The newsletter lists the Presidential candidates stands on gay rights. Some of the candidates and politicians listed as being favorable toward equal rights for the gay community include Democrats Shirely Chisholm, Edward Kennedy, John Lindsay, Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, and Hubert Humphrey (weak but positive). Republican Paul McClosky Jr. was listed as a liberal who supported ending discrimination in federal employment, opposing collecting data on sexual preference by the government, and would begin an educational campaign to result in acceptance of gay officers.
May 1, 1972 Article from the University archives titled “City cops infiltrate campus rallies” (dated but source not available), indicates that “one person infiltrated the University’s Gay Action Group because he didn’t agree with its principles.”
1972 Democratic Caucus passes a gay rights resolution (from copy of the resolution as passed). A UNL student was one of the Democratic representatives.
1973 Lou Crompton organized and sponsored the first formal gay studies seminar to be listed in the program of a national meeting of the Modern Languages Association, called “Research in Gay Literature”.
1978 Nebraska de-criminalizes sodomy, one of the first states to do so (from “A short GLBT Lincoln History by Deanna Zaffke, published in the 2006 Pride Guide for Lincoln, NE).
Barb Gittings, gay rights activist from Philadelphia, is profiled in an article in the Lincoln Star, Saturday, 9/30/78, p. 6). Gittings was the speaker for the Nebraska Personnel and Guidance Association fall convention, and also spoke at First Plymouth Church, a talk sponsored by the “Lincoln homosexual community and the Nebraska Civil Liberties Union.” The Lincoln Gay News also covers Barb Gittings visit to Lincoln.
The Lincoln Gay News started publishing in May, 1978. The staff put out a survey, and are a volunteer staff. Monthly publishing costs are $90, with revenue being $85.15.
David Landis, advertises in the Lincoln Gay News as part of his campaign to be elected as Legislator for North Lincoln (Lincoln Gay News, October 1978, p.3). An ad to re-elect Kandra Hahn for Clerk of the District Court appears on page 7.
1979 According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), GLBT history month originated with the first marches by gays and lesbians in 1979 and the success of a second demonstration of half a million people for people living with AIDS on 10/11/87 in Washington, DC.