Gender & Sexuality Resource Center History

In 2023, the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center will be celebrating its 30 Year Anniversary. Please check back frequently for updates!

UIUC Campus LGBTQ History Timeline: 

Sept 1971:
• August 1972, Gay Liberation Front formed at U of I. Activities included consciousness raising.


January 5, 1972: 

• Gay Liberation asks for Urbana to amend Sec. 21.38. to not make dressing in non-gender conforming clothing an illegal act. 

Between September 1975-July 1976:  

• Gay Illini Coffee House Wednesday night meetings of the Gay Illini took place at the Red Herring at 7:30 and are open to the public.


January 12, 1976:

• Gay Switchboard opens.  Phoneline for information can be called from 7pm to 1am as well as for support and crisis hotline. 


January 1976:

• Gay Illini resource center opens in YMCA (Student Advocate 1/14/76 heading “Resource Center to Begin Operation)

• The resource center provides a circulating collection of books and publications

• Starts a few times a week from 12-1 or 12-2, goes down to Wednesdays from 12-2 due to time constraints with shared space in the YWCA.

• Transfers to the Union in Fall of 1976. (DI April 29, 1978 “Union Space”)

• GAYLY Illini in front of folder 4 talks about the center opening and taking on a more community education and information service role in addition to a lending library of sorts. 



• Gay Illini worked rigorously on the Champaign Human Rights Ordinance

• Open to the public, many members from surrounding community including Danville.  Some sources seemed to point to it as mostly being a male organization.  

• An Affiliate of the National Coalition of Gay Activists


The Courier 1-7-77:

• “Conference to Focus on Homosexual Rights” held in Champaign at the union for gay liberation organizations across the state of Illinois

• “Gay Illini to Host Pride Week Program (Gay Life 4 march 1977) held at U of I from April 11-17th 1977

• Article from Gay Life Friday April 1, 1977 “Gay Appointed Urbana Commission” mentions that Urbana is one of the 35 municipalities in the nation with a gay rights ordinance, but is the only one in Illinois.


Daily Illini, Wednesday July 20, 1977: 

• “Champaign Approves Rights Ordinance” Many articles on this day about it in various papers (Gay Life, News Gazette, Courier

Daily Illini Tuesday 26 July 1977:

•  “City Sets Fine Example for others on Gay Rights”

April 17-24 1983:

• The seventh annual Gay Illini awareness week

“Chancellor’s Campuswide Task Force on Sexual Orientation” Final Report: April 16, 1987 submitted by Mary Ellen O’Shaughnessey, Chair.  

•  (Appointed by Chancellor Thomas E. Everhart in Feb. 1986) submitted a final report on campus climate in 1987.

• Board of Trustees adopted a resolution on Sept. 29, 1987 to prohibit discrimination due to sexuality


Illini Week, June 11th, 1987:

•  “Ikenberry, board affirm UI policy protects gays

Gay and Lesbian Illini assemble a group of individuals to go to the national march on Washington on October 11, 1987


“Chicago gay rights bill ok’d after 15 year battle” Chicago Sun-Times December 22, 1988. 

• Approximately 13 years after Urbana, 11 after Champaign

Daily Illini 6/23/89:

• “C-U mayors jointly declare special day for gay pride” 


From video with Curt McKay:

“Out on Campus” – Exact years unknown

•Formed by faculty and staff initially as a social group, but quickly transitioned into more activism work


Worked to: 

•get Residence halls to allow same-sex couples to live together

•get gender identity and sexual orientation to be included in the University’s non-discrimination policy


​1987 – First report given to the Chancellor on why the campus needs a LGBT Resource center with an office – it was ignored. 



• Small, shared space in the Illini Union

• YEAR? – $10,000 funding came in to remodel and have a bigger space, so the center could become a place to hang out and socialize as well. 


1993- The Ally Network began

• The need for LGBT people and straight people who were supportive, to get some training on how to be supportive but also to form a network to help them know who to talk to on campus if a student had a problem or for other needs. That was developed through the counseling center which had a sexual orientation, diversity, allies committee (SODA).

• Soon, there were ally trainings for many of the cultural houses and even Greek ally trainings implemented. 

In 2013, the LGBT Resource Center Celebrated its 20 Year Anniversary. Check out our 20 Year Anniversary Facebook page:

History of PRIDE (RSO)

Gay Liberation Front

Gay Illini

Gay and Lesbian Illini

Lesbian and Gay Illini

Changes into People for Lesbian gay and bisexual concerns (PLGBC) Feb 24 1991)


Pride (Maybe other iterations existed at other times that could not be located)


Watch Curt McKay’s interview: