Gay and Lesbian Student Union (GLSU) Records
Scope and Contents
The collection contains administrative and related records of the Gay and Lesbian Student Union (GLSU), the first student organization dedicated to the LGBTQIA+ community at Old Dominion University. Included in the collection are organizational materials such as constitutions, bylaws, minutes of meetings, and announcements; material related to various events held by the organization; documents related to other LGBTQIA+ organizations on the regional, state, and national level; and other miscellaneous material related to LGBTQIA+ issues. The organization is currently known as the ODU Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA), and the collection includes documents from the various name changes of the group over the years.
- circa 1976-2019, undated
3.00 Linear Feet
Conditions Governing Access
Open to researchers without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries.
Biographical or Historical Information
A Gay Student Alliance existed on campus in the mid and late 1970s but was not an official student organization.The ODU Gay and Lesbian Student Union (GLSU) was founded in 1988 and held its first meeting in January 1989. Before that time, in the mid and late 1980s, gay and lesbian students met at a weekly support group held at the University’s Campus Catholic Ministry. In 1993, the Gay and Lesbian Student Union changed its name to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Students and Allies in order to be more inclusive. The group changed its name in 2002 to become Old Dominion University Out (ODU Out) and again in 2018 to Old Dominion University Sexuality and Gender Alliance (ODUSAGA).
In the early days the organization was met with some degree of intolerance, if not outright hostility. Flyers and posters were torn down or defaced with anti-gay slurs. The group sought to change stereotypes and misconceptions through a “Shattering the Myths” poster and flyer campaign. They held an annual National Coming Out Day Social, every October 11, and a Lesbigay Awareness Week every spring. Lesbigay Awareness week was usually held in conjunction with the Annual Breaking the Ice Winter Gay Pride Festival in Webb Center co-hosted by the GLSU and the Hampton Roads Gay and Lesbian Pride Coalition.
The GLSU also co-hosted homophobia awareness workshops on campus with a faculty/staff organization called the Sexual Orientation Support committee. This group was made up largely of straight, female staff members who had previously worked on the campus AIDS committee. Staff from the Student Health Center, Counseling Services, the Women’s Center, Student Activities, and other departments were represented.
The GLSU also went to gay and lesbian conferences hosted by other Virginia colleges, and networked with other Virginia colleges through two grassroots organizations known as the Triangle Network and the Virginia Area Rainbow Student Alliance (VARSA). Many GLSU members were also a part of a Hampton Roads gay and lesbian youth groups known as Youth Out United (Y.O.U.). In fact, both groups shared common founders.
The GLSU was originally slated as a “political” student organization, and many of the groups members did participate in political protests, including a march on the Norfolk Military base protesting anti-gay discrimination; a shooting at the Anvil Bar; anti-gay hiring practices at Cracker Barrel Restaurant; and Mel White’s protest of CBN. Members also attended the 1993 March on Washington for gay and lesbian rights; and supported Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential campaign.
In 1991, a rash of anti-gay graffiti broke out on campus. Slogans such as “Kill a Fag;” “Rape a Lesbian,” and other derogatory statements were painted in halls and stairwells across campus and even in surrounding areas including Waterside and a Gay and Lesbian bookstore on 21st Street in Norfolk. The group doing the graffiti called itself “Skull and Bones”, and was allegedly made up of members of the College Republicans, but no convictions were ever made. At least one officer of the GLSU, came to his car one night after a meeting to find a group of men standing near his car with what appeared to be baseball bats or tire irons. He was not hurt, probably because a staff member drove him to his car that night, but later he found key scratches where his car had been vandalized.
At first the GLSU, did not feel that President Koch or the University Administration were doing enough to counter a hostile and unsafe environment for lesbians and gays on campus. They took their concerns to the Virginian-Pilot and local television news. Finally, in January of 1992, the GLSU met with President Koch and other University officials to discuss their concerns.
Besides asking the University to take a proactive role in cleaning up the graffiti and providing homophobia training for ODU faculty/staff, they called for the abolishment of other inequities on campus toward gay and lesbian students, faculty, and staff, as well as advancements that would help make the campus more equal for gays and lesbians. Other wish list items included an office for Gay and Lesbian concerns, partner benefits for faculty/staff, expanding ODU curricula to include Gay and Lesbian Studies courses, and removing ROTC from campus until it complies with ODU’s non-discrimination policy.
Beyond the initial meetings, a campus committee called the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Action Committee (GLBAC) was formed to further research and act on these needs. While many of these things did not come to pass, a Graduate Assistant for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Concerns position was created within Multicultural Student Services to act as a liaison between gay, lesbian, and bisexual students and the University Administration and to continue to advance the needs of these students on campus. A facilitator on gay and lesbian issues named Kathy Obear was also brought in to provide homophobia training to faculty and staff in June 1992.
Note written by Mel Frizzell
Language of Materials
Materials for this collection date from the 1970s through the present, with most of the materials dating from the 1990s. Included are organizational materials such as the group’s constitution, meeting agendas, and correspondence; flyers and information on various events and protests; agendas and minutes from other campus gay and lesbian groups.
The collection is organized into eleven series: Series I: Organizations; Series II: Events; Series III: Other Campus Groups and Committees; Series IV: Local Hampton Roads and Virginia Organizations; Series V: National Organizations; Series VI: Issues and Protests; Series VII: Resources; Series VIII: Gaynet Messages; Series IX: News Clippings and Articles; Series X: Miscellaneous; and Series XI: Other Media.
Source of Acquisition
Method of Acquisition
The collection was processed and a finding aid was created by Mel Frizzell, Special Collections Assistant.
- Old Dominion University. Gay and Lesbian Student Union (GLSU) (Organization)
- Old Dominion University Out (Organization)
- Old Dominion University Sexuality and Gender Alliance (ODUSAGA) (Organization)
- A Guide to the Gay and Lesbian Student Union (GLSU) Records
- Mel Frizzell
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.