Pride On: LGBTQ+ Campus Resources

This June marks the 48th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots, a series of demonstrations in response to a police raid at a Manhattan gay club. The riots are considered a pivotal turning point in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. Ever since the Stonewall Inn Riots, Pride Month has been a means for people to celebrate non-normative gender and sexual identities. Although, Pride Month is officially celebrated during the month of September in Champaign-Urbana, we can still commemorate locally by taking a moment to look back and retrace LGBTQ+ history at our campus.

In 1971, the Gay Liberation Front at U of I was formed. In 1976 the Gay Switchboard as well as the Gay Illini Resource Center opened. The following year, Champaign approved the Human Rights Ordinance, a historic win for the community. In 1986, the Chancellor conducted a campus-wide taskforce on Sexual Orientation, producing a report on campus climate. In 1987, the Board of Trustees passed a resolution to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexuality. You can check out the full timeline on the LGBT Resource Center webpage.

You can also look through issues of our school’s newspaper, the Daily Illini for primary source information. Entire issues have been digitized up to the year of 1975 and are available to browse online. Select articles have been highlighted below to portray the historic realities of the campus atmosphere during the early 1970s, soon after the Stonewall Inn riots.

Please note that when reviewing these or other primary sources, they are historical documents that may potentially contain content and/or language that today is considered offensive. The opinions and views expressed within these articles are solely those of the respective authors and/or their interview subjects.

Silhouette outline of two men holding hands

Published in the Daily Illini, October 1971

Daily illini article: Gay liberation trying to break down barriers

Published in the Daily Illini, October 1971

Daily illini article: gay rights act necessary

Published in the Daily Illini, November 1972

Daily Illini article: gay illini discuss concerns on weekly basis

Published in the Daily Illini, October 1975

Daily Illini article: gay illini discuss concerns on weekly basis

Published in the Daily Illini, October 1975

If you are interested in digging deeper into LGBTQ+ history in Champaign-Urbana, be sure to explore the LGBTQ+ Articles Archive.

The library also has a lot of resources to both meet your research needs and to feed your general interest. For more information, be sure to check out the UGL’s Gender and Sexual Identity subject guide.

The Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL) has a collection of resources in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender studies. This guide includes detailed suggestions for databases, journals, websites for statistics and data, and other general information, including research tips.

Looking for more resources? The Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations’ LGBT Resource Center and the University YMCA’s Uniting Pride Center  are great community centers for LGBTQ+ resources.

Happy Pride!

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Reader’s Advisory: LGBTQ Stories

LGBTQ characters in comics, literature, television, and film have become increasingly popular and accepted. The success of TV shows such as Orange is the New Black, the recently critically acclaimed film Carol, and queer retellings of stories such as that of Catwoman have boosted representation of LGBTQ people. If you’ve been searching for more LGBTQ characters, here is a list of books available in the Undergraduate Library that will capture your interest.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home:A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

This graphic memoir by lesbian comic artist Alison Bechdel, author of the long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, explores Bechdel’s sexuality as a child and college student alongside the retelling of her father’s complicated sexuality and premature death. This Lambda Literary and Eisner award-winning graphic memoir is a great introduction to graphic novels and queer literature, but will also please aficionados of the genres. Fans of the Broadway musical Fun Home who were left craving more should pick up this original story!

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

This book tells the story of Ijeoma, a young Nigerian girl who falls in love with another girl of a different ethnic group as the civil war becomes the backdrop of their lives in the 1970s. As the adult Ijeoma reminisces about her childhood, she discovers herself and her desires in this intimate debut novel. People interested in coming-of-age stories will love Ijeoma’s journey to understanding her sexuality.

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
James Baldwin’s 1956 classic Giovanni’s Room follows a man conflicted between the women to whom he has recently engaged and his affair with an Italian bartender—who just so happens to be a man. As David struggles to choose between his goal of a traditional lifestyle and his sexual desires, he falls deeper into his affair with Giovanni. Baldwin wrote the classic tale of self-discovery mixed with a sex and sin in this literary masterpiece.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Fans of lesbian romance, mysteries, and historical fiction alike will devour this period romance by renowned lesbian author Sarah Waters. Sue, an orphan raised in a community of con artists, becomes the maid of a wealthy woman whose inheritance is the object of desire. With a surprising romance and plot twists, if you can’t get enough of this Lambda Literary winning story, it was retold in the form of a BBC One series, which is also available in the Undergraduate Library!

Long Red Hair by Meags Fitzgerald

Long Red Hair by Meags Fitzgerald

Comic artist Meags Fitzgerald details her story of discovering and labeling her sexuality while struggling with the social pressure to choose between her attraction to men and to women. Even within queer literatures, stories of bisexuality and other non-monosexual identities are less prevalent than gay or lesbian narratives. Fitzgerald interweaves historical examples of relationships and sexuality with her own in this 93-page whirlwind of a memoir. Readers who seek representations of lesser-discussed sexualities, or those looking for a book to devour in one sitting, will love this graphic retelling of Fitzgerald’s coming-of-age as a queer woman.

Wandering Son by Takako Shimura

Wandering Son by Takako Shimura

Takako Shimura’s manga series follows two transgender friends in middle school as they discover what it means to be transgender and how to live as their authentic selves. Through eight volumes, Shimura gives readers a coming-of-age story unlike any other: as the characters approach and experience puberty, their experiences are shaped by their gender identities that do not match their bodies. This manga series broke new ground during its first release in 2002. It will be enjoyed by lovers of comics, coming-of-age stories, and LGBTQ literature alike.

What are your favorite LGBTQ books? Tweet at us (@askundergrad) or contact us on Facebook (Undergraduate Library at UIUC)!

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Got Pride? LGBT Pride Month at the UGL

The Stonewall Inn Riots, a series of protests following police raids on a queer bar in New York City that are widely considered the igniting spark for the modern LGBT rights movement, took place on June 28-29, 1969. Ever since then, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer folks in the United States have taken the month of June as a symbolic time to demonstrate pride in their sexual and gender minority identities.

A rainbow-colored robot invites you to LGBT pride month.

Original image by Quinn Dombrowski.

This year, 45 years later, President Barack Obama has again declared June LGBT Pride Month, recognizing the importance for LGBTQ people to celebrate themselves and the political struggles their communities have been involved in. In order to show off our own pride, the UGL would like to recommend some items from our collection that display some LGBTQ pride and history.


by Martin Duberman

If you’re interested in going back to the beginning, Martin Duberman’s Stonewall is an important look—even 20 years on—at the watershed nature of the events at Stonewall through the eyes of six very different people. His history captures the conflicting and varied responses to the Stonewall events and draws a messy picture of the events leading up to Stonewall that made the riots such a historic event.

Smash the Church, Smash the State book cover with vintage photos of activists

Smash the Church, Smash the State: The Early Years of Gay Liberation

edited by Tommi Avicolli Mecca

Smash the Church, Smash the State takes a look at the political climate immediately following Stonewall by investigating the early years of the Gay Liberation Front, a anti-assimilationist activist group—the first to use the word “gay” in its name—that worked alongside (and sometimes against) other radical movements of the 1970s. Written by former GLF members, this book provides insight into a turbulent and fabulous movement whose work laid the foundation for contemporary LGBTQ politics.

Body Counts boko cover with image of couple kissing

Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival

by Sean Strub

Moving forward in time, another historically significant event in the history of queer people in the United States was the AIDS crisis of the late 80s and early 90s. Sean Strub’s memoir, Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival, documents one slice of that time and what it meant for the gay community. As the founder of POZ magazine and the first openly HIV-positive candidate for the US legislature, Strub’s insight into the critical need for AIDS-related protections and research and his work with ACT UP paints an important picture of this era.

Redefining Realness book cover with image of Janet Mock looking incredibly regal

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More

by Janet Mock

For a contemporary look at one aspect of LGBTQ pride, check out Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More. Mock was born to Black and Native Hawaiian parents in a working class neighborhood of Honolulu, and is now a respected writer and advocate for trans rights, creating #girlslikeus, an online movement for transwomen living visibly. Mock’s memoir traces her life from a childhood in Hawai‘i through her career in New York City, and it highlights the need for mainstream LGBTQ movements to center the experiences of trans women of color to continue to fight oppression both within and outside of LGBTQ communities.

There’s lots more Pride to be found in the stacks of the UGL and in Champaign-Urbana more widely. If you’re looking to celebrate this month, check out the UP Center’s Reel It UP! LGBT film festival, with showings every Tuesday in June at the Champaign Art Theater. Or, if you won’t be back on campus until school starts, Champaign-Urbana Pride  will be on Saturday, September 6 in downtown Champaign. We encourage you to celebrate along with us by checking out some of these resources and events…Happy Pride!

Special thanks to guest blogger Tad Andracki!

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