LGBT+ History Month: “Early LGBT+ Student Activism / Activismo Estudiantil Temprano LGBT+” by Research Assistant Luis Gonzalez-Diaz

The following post was written by Luis Gonzalez-Diaz, who is working at SCUA this year as an Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA). His project centers around historical LGBT+ communities on the ISU campus. The post today builds upon his previous post, which can be accessed via a link in the text below.

-Rachael Acheson
Assistant University Archivist


Early LGBT+ Student Activism / Activismo Estudiantil Temprano LGBT+

[TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post, or pages it links to, contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.]

[Advertencia: Este artículo, puede contener material sobre asalto sexual o violencia que podría ser desencadenante para algunos sobrevivientes.]

Continuing the narrative of LGBT+ History Month, an aspect of LGBT+ history that greatly influenced campus life for the community was the activism from the various groups on campus in the 1970s. The first presence of LGBT+ activism on campus started in 1971 with backlash to the controversial play “Boys in the Band” being presented at Iowa State. For more information on that particular event, check out my last article.

Continuando en la narrativa del mes de historia LGBT+, un aspecto de historia que gran mente influenció la vida estudiantil en la universidad, fue el activismo de varios grupos en los 1970’s. La primera presencia de activismo LGBT+ en la universidad, empezó en 1971 con la repercusión causada por la obra teatral controversial “Boys in the Band” siendo presentada. Para más información, verifica mi último artículo.

Boys in the Band Photos, RS 13/23/3, Box 17. / Fotos de “Boys in the Band”, RS 13/23/3, Caja 17

Boys in the Band Photos, RS 13/23/3, Box 17. / Fotos de “Boys in the Band”, RS 13/23/3, Caja 17

Nonetheless, on October 8th, 1974, students from the Gay People’s Alliance and the Lesbian Alliance might have demonstrated one of the biggest acts of activism and resistance in the decade, when they appeared in a local tv station in Ames called WOI-TV. The invitation to participate in the program arose from a controversial episode of Marcus Welby M.D. titled “The Outrage” aired by ABC TV. In the fictional drama, a mother discovers that her teenage boy was sexually assaulted by one of his school teachers when they were out at a camping trip. The teenager nonetheless was too ashamed to admit it to her mother but eventually confessed that it was his male science teacher that had done it.

No obstante, el 8 de octubre de 1974, estudiantes del “Gay People’s Alliance” y el “Lesbian Alliance” demostraron uno de los actos más grandes de activismo y resistencia en la década, cuando aparecieron en una estación de televisión local en Ames llamada WOI-TV. La invitación ocurrió a causa de un episodio controversial de un programa llamado Marcus Welby M.D titulado “The Outrage”, televisado por ABC TV. En el drama ficticio, una madre descubre que su hijo adolescente fue asaltado sexualmente por uno de sus maestros en un viaje estudiantil auspiciado por la escuela. Sin embargo, el niño adolescente estaba demasiado avergonzado para admitirlo ante su madre, pero finalmente confesó que era su maestro de ciencias lo que lo había hecho.

Luis_TheOutrage_IMDBscreenshot

Screenshot of IMDB page for this episode, accessible at the following URL: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0641970/?ref_=ttep_ep16

The airing of this episode caused much outrage for LGBT+ communities nationwide because of the perpetuation of negative light over the community, in a time where LGBT+ activism was just starting. The airing of the episode was a direct attack on the activism that was present at that time. The episode was pulled from communities in Boston and Philadelphia.

La emisión de este episodio causó mucha indignación para las comunidades LGBT + en todo el país debido a la perpetuación de la luz negativa sobre la comunidad, en un momento en el que el activismo LGBT + apenas estaba comenzando. La emisión del episodio fue un ataque directo al activismo que estaba presente en ese momento. El episodio fue retirado de comunidades en Boston y Filadelfia.

Blurry screenshot of an article from the New York Times, October 6, 1974, page 19. To read a clearer digitized copy of this article, visit the following URL: https://www.nytimes.com/1974/10/06/archives/pressure-groups-are-increasingly-putting-the-heat-on-tv-television.html

Blurry screenshot of a New York Times article dated October 6, 1974, page 19. To read a clearer, digitized copy of this article, visit the following URL: https://www.nytimes.com/1974/10/06/archives/pressure-groups-are-increasingly-putting-the-heat-on-tv-television.html

In Ames, the Gay People’s Alliance and the Lesbian Alliance wanted it to be pulled, but WOI-TV was not doing it. The TV station nonetheless, invited both groups to participate in Betty Lou Varnum’s “Dimension Five” program that aired in central Iowa at 10PM. 

En Ames, el “Gay People’s Alliance” y el “Lesbian Alliance” querían que se retirara, pero WOI-TV no lo estaba haciendo. No obstante, la estación de televisión invitó a ambos grupos a participar en el programa “Dimensión Cinco” de Betty Lou Varnum que se emitió en el centro de Iowa a las 10 P. M.

Headshot of Betty Lou Varnum. Screenshot from the video entitled Dimension 5: Gay People Alliance, time 0:30. Varnum is introducing the segment. Follow URL in the caption to see this moment in the video.

Dimension 5: Gay People Alliance, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heUZADGz66w&t=1882s, 0:30. Betty Lou Varnum is introducing the segment.

The panelists were Carolyn Czerna, Karen Moore, Kay Scott, Connie Tanzo, Steve Court, Jim Osler, David Windom, and Dennis Brumm.

Los panelistas fueron Carolyn Czerna, Karen Moore, Kay Scott, Connie Tanzo, Steve Court, Jim Osler, David Windom y Dennis Brumm.

Screenshot from the video entitled Dimension 5: Gay People Alliance, time 1:39. Carolyn Czerna, Karen Moore, Kay Scott, Connie Tanzo, Steve Court, Jim Osler, David Windom, and Dennis Brumm being introduced. Follow the URL in the caption to see this moment in the video.

Dimension 5: Gay People Alliance, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heUZADGz66w&t=1882s, 1:39. The panelists are being introduced.

The program talked mostly about the Marcus Welby M.D. episode, as well as many questions that the host had. Further along the night, the phone line was opened for callers, and many people called quoting Bible verses at them, which represented how the LGBT+ community was being perceived in Ames. The segment was viewed so frequently that it had brought back to life the ratings for the show. This broadcast, furthermore, represented how student activism here at Iowa State University has influenced and shaped the views on the LGBT+ community in Iowa, and how they refused to stay silent in the midst of an injustice. The interview is conveniently available to you at the Special Collections and University Archive’s YouTube channel, under “Dimension 5: Gay People Alliance Tape 1”.

El programa hablaba principalmente del episodio de Marcus Welby M.D. así como de las muchas preguntas que tenía el anfitrión. Más a lo largo de la noche, se abrió la línea telefónica para las personas que llamaban, y muchas personas llamaron a citar versículos bíblicos, lo que representaba cómo se percibía a la comunidad LGBT + en Ames. El segmento se veía con tanta frecuencia que había devuelto a la vida las calificaciones para el programa. Además, esta transmisión representó cómo el activismo estudiantil aquí en “Iowa State University” ha influido y configurado las opiniones sobre la comunidad LGBT + en Iowa, y cómo se negaron a permanecer en silencio en medio de una injusticia. La entrevista está disponible para usted en el canal de YouTube de Colecciones Especiales y el Archivo de la Universidad, bajo “Dimensión 5: Gay People Alliance Tape 1“.

Additionally, we have the original Dimension 5 notes for that specific broadcast in the Betty Lou Varnum papers at SCUA [RS 5/6/53].

Además, tenemos las notas originales de Dimensión 5 para esa emisión específica en los documentos de Betty Lou Varnum en SCUA [RS 5/6/53].

Broadcast notes from collection RS 5/6/53

RS 5/6/53

If you have any other materials regarding LGBT+ student life here on campus, please feel free to reach out to the Special Collections and University Archives at ISU to talk about how you can possibly preserve and help us develop the history of the community in the university.

Si tiene cualquier otro material relacionado con la vida estudiantil LGBT + aquí en el campus, no dude en comunicarse con las Colecciones Especiales y los Archivos Universitarios en ISU para hablar sobre cómo posiblemente puede preservar y ayudarnos a desarrollar la historia de la comunidad en la universidad.


“Alice Doesn’t Day” by Research Assistant Amanda Larsen

The following post was written by Amanda Larsen, who is working at SCUA this year as an Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA). Her project revolves around historical feminist activism on the ISU campus. Regarding today’s article, note that the Monday after next, exactly two weeks from today, will mark 43 years since the “Alice Doesn’t Day” strike.

-Rachael Acheson
Assistant University Archivist


Alice Doesn’t Day

October 29th, 1975 was one of the first days to show the nation how much women contribute to society. The National Organization for Women (NOW) created a national strike day for women in order to emphasize how important women are for society. They called it “Alice Doesn’t Day,” a reference to the 1974 film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.  NOW called for every woman to refrain from work or spending any money. The alternative for women who could not skip work was to wear an armband and discuss its purpose.

On campus, the Government of the Student Body (GSB) was asked to support the strike by on campus women’s organization. The bill to support Alice Doesn’t Day was sponsored by Roxanne Ryan, a student in sciences and humanities.

Image of Roxanne Ryan with members of her residence hall, Miller. Image from the Bomb 1975, page 308.

Roxanne Ryan with members of her residence hall. Image from the Bomb 1975, pg. 308.

Various groups scheduled programs supporting Alice Doesn’t Day on the Iowa State campus according to news articles. For those who wished to participate in the event, the YWCA had seminars on women’s health, practical consumerism, pampering ourselves, and women and the law. If the participants had young children, there were male-run daycare and babysitting services provided. GSB passed the bill supporting Alice Doesn’t Day, to the dismay of some. In the community, Ames Mayor William Pelz showed support for Alice Doesn’t Day by signing an official proclamation naming October 29th as “Alice Doesn’t Day.”

Not everyone supported Alice Doesn’t Day. The Iowa State Daily’s “Point of View” section notes that some believed calling for women not to go to work was not the best tactic for showing women’s roles in society. While it might have shown how much women contribute, it could also have shown unprofessionalism and little regard for their work. Others felt that women should double their efforts on the 29th with the same goal of showing how much they can contribute to society. A group opposed to Alice Doesn’t Day vowed to wear pink dresses and call for the firing of any woman protesting. In terms of students, most told the Daily that the reason they could not participate in the strike was that they had classes and “school is more important than my ethical views.” Since they could not miss classes, many of the women interviewed said they would refrain from spending money that day.

Cartoon on student activism (or lack thereof). The Bomb 1975, pg. 504.

Cartoon on ISU student activism (or lack thereof). The Bomb 1975, pg. 504.

Rosl Gowdey, one of the publicity workers for the project, stated that the goal of the day was to “focus on what happens to the women who participate, than on the number of participants. If only one or two women get something out of it, then that’s great, and we’ve accomplished our purpose.” While most think that the day was a failure, others viewed the event as successful because of the awareness: “In terms of awareness and talking about women’s contributions, it was successful,” said by Susan Newcomer, the president of the Ames chapter of the National Organization for Women.

If you or anyone you know has any information about women activist from 1960-1979 here at Iowa State, please feel free to contact Special Collections to discuss preserving the material.

Image from page 19 of the Ames Daily Tribune, October 25th, 1975.

Image from page 19 of the Ames Daily Tribune, October 25th, 1975.