The 1980s

August 1984

The University Bulletin and other official publications begin to include statements that Miami does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and that Miami adheres to Ohio Governor’s Executive Order 83-64, which prohibits discrimination in state employment based on sexual orientation.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance was started for the first time, but dissolved within nine months.

September 1984

A second group called the Gay/Lesbian Alliance tried to organize. The Student Affairs Council (now The Student Life Council) approved this group unanimously. The GLA sponsored two lectures, visited residence halls, and held panels in Human Sexuality classes. However, harassment and abuse proved debilitating, leading to what one member described as “cynicism and defeatist behavior.” The group dissolved by the end of the year.

September 1985

Chameleon, an underground gay and lesbian support group, is created by Jim Lopata and Christine Rebera. If somebody needed support they had to call a “secret” number, ask for a particular person, and then they were routed to the correct contact. Miami University alumnus James Lopata (1986) began an underground support group for gay students in a time when he and other students felt they could not be openly gay. 

The Story: During Lopata’s senior year, after talking in-depth with his head resident advisor, Lopata began the process of coming out to his friends. In the midst of a process he described as just plain scary, and despite being initially met with an uncomfortable reaction from his best friend, Lopata found an unlikely friendship with someone he never expected to. Lopata’s friend Christine came out to him at the same time. At the time, the two had virtually nowhere on campus to turn for support. Together they decided to create Chameleon. The group met in secret once a week in the basement of the counseling center which began with only Lopata and Christine. Chameleon sparked the creation of many of the LGBT organizations on campus today.

October 1985

Linda Singer and Roy Bowen Ward submit a cross-listed course in the Honors Program dealing with gay and lesbian issues. Although the student members of the Honors Committee voted against it (reason: no student would want that course on their transcript), the faculty outvoted them, and the course was approved for the 1986-1987 academic year.

August 1986

Linda Singer and Roy Bowen Ward teach the first course directly and explicitly about gay and lesbian issues on the Miami campus. The course, was originally entitled “Homosexual and Lesbian Experience,”. It is still taught every fall now under “WGS 202 – Introduction to GLBT Studies”. 

September 1986

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance re-forms on the Miami University campus and is recognized as a student group on September 30, 1986. Roy Bowen Ward, professor of Religion, affiliate in Women’s studies, and History, serves as the first faculty advisor to the newly formed group. Jeff Young served as the first president, Terri Lotz as vice-president, Brenda Price as secretary, and Suzanne Gray as treasurer. The group formed out of Chameleon. 

October 1986

The Miami Student runs a full, front-page article with the headline “Gay alliance organizes with new goals.” The newsletter for Minority Affairs Council (now known as The Diversity Affairs Council under The Assoiciated Student Government [ACS]) focuses on homosexuality, the GLA, and related issues. The Minority Affairs council also asked Roy Ward to lecture on homophobia. The Miami Student runs another article focusing on Ward’s lecture in the October 17th issue.

December 1986

Members of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance received many anonymous and insulting telephone calls and letters from both students and faculty of Miami. The panels, which went to educate the student body in sociology and anthropology classes, were often exposed to insulting, rude, and embarrassing comments and questions. However, by the end of the year, the GLA had 40 members.

January 1987

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance requested funding from the Board of Trustees in the amount of $400. They received $230. When it was time to approve the budget at the June Board of Trustees meeting, one board member moved for the removal of GLA funding, followed by a second motion affirming the move. Ward was there as a representative of the university senate and witnessed the vice-president for student affairs stand up and remind the two men that such an act was against the law, referring to Governor Celeste’s executive order. The motion failed.

June 1987

The Board of Trustees adds “sexual preference” to the list of grounds for a discrimination complaint (Section 3.7 of the Miami University Policy and Information Manual).

 Autumn 1987

1st GLBA OFFICE. GLBA was given an office in the basement of King Library. The first office was a sub-office of the Miami University Office for Students with Disabilities. The office later was moved to Shriver Center and finally to the Armstrong Student Center where it is located today. 

Autumn 1987

Miami Financial Report reaches $1000 mark for MUGLBA. The GLBA felt this amount was a milestone in continuing support from Miami. The Student Finance Committee recognized MUGLBA, and that an incredible number of panels were cited as their reason for stronger backing.

Autumn 1987

The first student was recognized by Miami as being HIV+. Miami tries to force student to live in a single room for “health” reasons. The student was bisexual and this fact was brought to Miami students’ attention at Safe Sex forum attended by several hundred students, causing quite an uproar and demands for identification of the student. Gay staff members with Miami Student Counseling Center attempted to mediate the situation between all parties involved.

April 1988

On April 6th, 1988 the first “Jeans Day” was observed. This designated day is when people who support gay/ lesbian/ bisexual/ transgendered issues wear jeans to show their support. Students have criticized this as “sneaky,” accusing GLBA of tricking people into showing support when they did not know what day it was.

April 1988

The “First Annual Sexual Deviant’s Ball” was held within a week of Jeans Day. Since the two happened so closely together, “Awareness Week” evolved and became host to a variety of panels, speakers, and activities.

January 1989

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance change their name to the GLBA (Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Alliance). This is the first time the bisexual students and faculty were officially recognized on campus.

Spring 1989

GLBA sends out first mailing to all freshman students at beginning of school year inviting them to get involved with GLBA. After receiving more than 100 harassing phone calls from the flyer a Security office puts a tap on the GLBA phone. Calls were identified back to student room phones. Miami would not prosecute callers since they cannot prove who actually made the phone calls from student’s room.

Spring 1989

Living in Thompson Hall, the GLBA president and vice-president had various Miami MUGLBA fliers on our door. This was the same year that 14 gay and bisexual men lived on the 2nd floor of Thompson Hall. The straight men on the 2nd floor were furious at the dominance of gay and bisexual men on the floor. The situation escalated to where they set a door on fire in residence hall. Students who committed the act were not thrown out by Miami, but had to write paper on how their acts affected the community. 

Spring 1989

At graduation, a gay student wore a huge pink triangle (Silence = Death) on his cap. He was first stopped at the ceremony by Miami officials but then allowed to march with the pink triangle on his cap. This was the first reported time any gay symbol was worn at a graduation ceremony.

Spring 1989

Miami University changes its wording in policies from sexual “preference” to “orientation.”