QT History at KU

History of QT organizations in Lawrence

In response to the Stonewall Riots in New York City, as well as the burgeoning movement for sexual liberation, the late 1960s marked the proliferation of gay and lesbian community organizations and student organizations on college and university campuses across the United States. In 1970, students at the University of Kansas organized to form a gay and lesbian student organization titled the "Lawrence Gay Liberation Front," as a nod towards the Gay Liberation Front that had formed in New York City. According to an article in the Fall 1991 GALA Update (a KU LGBT alumni newsletter) by Michael Nelson and Charles Dedmon: "Unattached groups of gay people existed who were interested in forming a local Gay Liberation Front. David Stout (a gay social work student, working on a paper about alternative lifestyles), became the inadvertent founder of GLF when one of his interviewees tacked a message with his name and phone number at strategic places on campus frequented by gay men."

The note encouraged people to attend a meeting for gay/lesbian students (called Gay Liberation Front, but not yet officially named), and to make their presence known to the campus as a whole and to find a better quality of life as a gay person. Thus began two of Queers & Allies' central goals-educating through campus visibility, and the formation of a nurturing, supportive community.

From its earliest days, the Lawrence Gay Liberation Front faced multiple challenges. One of the main priorities of the group was to be recognized as a legitimate student organization and secure funding through the KU Student Senate. According to KU policy, any student organization seeking funding from the KU Student Senate must be recognized as a student organization at the University of Kansas. To meet this requirement, the group appealed to Chancellor Laurence Chalmers on multiple occasions to be recognized as a student organization at the University of Kansas. After the Chancellor denied their request by stating, "since we are not persuaded that student activity funds should be allocated either to support or to oppose the sexual proclivities of students, particularly when they might lead to violation of state law, the University of Kansas declines to formally recognize the Lawrence Gay Liberation Front" (KU news release about the Lawrence Gay Liberation Front, September 5, 1970).

After being denied formal recognition from Chancellor Chalmers, the students of the Lawrence Gay Liberation Front filed a lawsuit against the University of Kansas for infringing on their first and fourteenth amendment rights. The suit was filed in late 1971, one year after the formation of the group. U.S. District Court Judge George Templar heard the case and ruled against the group. The group appealed the ruling, but in 1973 their fight for recognition was halted by the Supreme Court refusing to hear their case. This frustrated the students of the Lawrence Gay Liberation Front, but they did not disband. Instead, the organization continued to grow and gain support throughout the decade of the 1970s. It was not until a decade after the Lawrence Gay Liberation Front was formed that they received formal recognition as a legitimate student organization at the University of Kansas.

While the road to recognition was difficult for the Gay Liberation Front (renamed Lawrence Gay Liberation Incorporated by the time they were formally recognized), perseverance by a decade of students allowed the group to flourish. Without the dedication of these students, KU would not have the reputation of being a safe haven for LGBTQIA+ students in Kansas that it has today. Currently, the KU Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity is dedicated to serving students of diverse genders and/or sexualities (LGBTQIA+) as well as their straight allies. The Center provides education, resources and support for all students, faculty, and staff, as well as a physical hangout space.

Center Directors

  • Ash Wilson (2022 - Present)
  • Kristopher A. Oliveira (2020-2021)
  • Saida Bonifield (Interim 2017 - 2018; Permanent 2018-2019)
  • Vanessa Delgado (2015 - 2017)

Center Program Coordinators

  • Cori Deming (2022 - Present)
  • Cornelius Baker (2021 - Present)
  • Zach Parker (2021 - 2022) 
  • TK Morton (2018 - 2020)
  • Roze Brooks (2015 - 2015)
  • Saida Bonifield (2015 - 2017)