Denim Day: 40th Anniversary

A group holding a Virginia Tech flag on the right. On the left is a blue background with white text reading Denim Day 40th Anniversary Commemoration and a Denim Day at Virginia Tech logo.

This exhibit was created as part of the Denim Day 40th Anniversary commemorative events in 2019.

For more information about the commemorative events, including a #VTDenimDayDoOver on Friday, April 5, 2019, visit https://www.alumni.vt.edu/events/2019/04/denimday.html.

The idea for a 40th Anniversary Commemoration of Denim Day at Virginia Tech came from one of the organizers of the first Denim Day in 1979. Alumna Nancy Kelly returned to Virginia Tech after learning about the opening of the LGBTQ+ Resource Center in Squires at Virginia Tech and after being inspired and encouraged by LGBTQ+ students at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University where she works. She returned with a vision. She wanted the university to recognize the struggle that LGBTQ+ students faced here even after the first LGBTQ+ student organizations were recognized by the university and she wanted to raise awareness of the struggles still faced by LGBTQ+ students today.
Denim Day 1979 was a statement. It announced to the university that gay and lesbian students existed at Virginia Tech. These pages feature the voices of alumni from that time recalling what Denim Day meant to them and what life was like for them at Virginia Tech in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Learn more about LGBTQ+ history on our Timeline of LGBTQ+ History at Virginia Tech.
The Denim Day 40th Anniversary Commemoration was developed as a partnership between Special Collections, University Libraries, the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, Ex Lapide Alumni Society, HokiePRIDE, the Department of History, the Division of Advancement, Student Affairs, the School of Performing Arts, Alumni Relations, the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment, and the Town of Blacksburg.
Special Thanks to Nancy Kelly who brought us all together.
Curated by: Anthony Wright, Community Collections Archivist
Denim Day: 40th Anniversary