This year, the SOHP is continuing its internship program with a new batch of four undergraduate students at UNC. The topic for our oral histories this semester is the Carolina Gay Association (CGA), LGBTQ rights, and the sexual revolution at UNC. As someone who worked on the Gender non-Specific housing campaign last year, I was very excited to research what techniques the LGBTQ community
used in order to receive recognition and equal rights at UNC and in the Triangle area. Listening through interviews with past gay Carolina students and Chapel Hill community members, I was inspired by the amount of community support received in Chapel hill for the CGA and LGBTQ community whether it was a church allowing gay and lesbian individuals/allies to meet in their building or a local bar which hosted ‘Gay nights’ for the LGBTQ community to socialize and meet one another.
As much support the gay and lesbian community received, there was also backlash from the administration and other student groups on campus. I can speak for all of the interns here in saying we hope to share with UNC and the Chapel Hill community both sides of the issue. There is certainly no single Truth in oral history or life, but rather a multitude a narratives from individuals based on personal experience. We will share the interviews, and allow you to decide.
Below are quotes on the topic and particular research interests by each of our student interns and Graduate student Intern Coordinator, Evan Faulkenbury
“Oral history provides a powerful opportunity to capture unheard narratives from our past. Never is this more true than with the case of the Carolina Gay Association and the sexual revolution at UNC. I look forward to exploring how figures of authority-including city council members, professors, and university administration (both those identifying as LGBTQ and not) fit into the emerging sexual revolution at UNC, integrated into the gay community, and challenged opposing forces at the time. I am curious as to how these individuals, commonly thrust into the limelight, understood their identities as both gay and powerful in the city or state of North Carolina as a whole.”
“I am interested in gay student activism at UNC because the student body is currently grappling with the role of student activism a s a counter to oppressive politics and social norms. Our interviewees will give us a yardstick for how far we have come on issues of sexuality and sexual health, as well as shed light on the roots of our contemporary quandaries — and have some really good stories to boot!”
“The focus of my interviews for our project on the Sexual Revolution of the 1970s will be on student and faculty activism to promote sexual education during this time. My interests include a new and popular class at the time, Health 33, the only class that offered a comprehensive education on sexuality; the pamphlet and weekly Daily Tar Heel column, “Elephants and Butterflies,” which answered student questions about sex; The Human Sexuality Information and Counseling Services, a student-run counseling department that helped answer students’ questions about themselves; and the evolution of the campus’s perceptions on sexuality as more information became available. ”
“I was excited to learn more about the LGBTQ movement in Chapel Hill because I feel a lot of people, including myself, have a nonexistent or limited awareness of this topic. I think people have a tendency to forget how much progress the LGBTQ movement has made in a relatively short time compared to other marginalized groups. I wanted to not only uncover personal stories of the LGBTQ community, but also gain a more systemic understanding of the LGBTQ community, backlash to the movement and consciousness raising on campus.”
“I’m interested in our topic on gay and lesbian activism because it is an underrepresented movement within the historical literature. Oral history is particularly suited to uncover this fascinating social movement, and I look forward to seeing the interns’ research as they connect the history of gay and lesbian activism at UNC Chapel Hill to wider themes such as feminism, student militancy, and the South since the 1960s.”
The most oppressed narratives are certainly the ones which deserve the most attention. Next year is the 40th anniversary of the Carolina Gay Association, and we cannot wait to see what kind of stories we can share with the CGA and the Carolina community as a whole. We hope to put on the pedestal of human conscious the untold stories of the CGA and the sexual revolution at UNC, so that those looking both in the past and searching forward can have guidance in endeavors for equal rights for all human beings.