Jeans Noticeably Absent: The Story of Denim Day 1979, April 5, 2019 (Ms2019-001)

Virginia Tech Special Collections

Transcript Index
Search This Index
Go X

0:34 - Introduction

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: Good evening everybody. How are ya?

Keywords: chosen family; community; Nancy Kelly; overcoming; pride; Theatre and Cinema; tribe

Subjects: LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

5:36 - Reading: January 9, 1979. Collegiate Times

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: January 9, 1979. Collegiate Times. The Gay Student Alliance of Virginia Tech has received permission from the Commission on Student Affairs to advertise and sponsor Gay Awareness Week, January fifteenth to nineteenth.

Keywords: Collegiate Times; Denim Day; G.S.A.; Gay Awareness Week; Gay Student Alliance

Subjects: LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

6:53 - Nancy Kelly: Initial reaction and planning

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Kelly: And when that came out in the newspaper, beginning of January, and the campus absolutely erupted.

Keywords: campus crusade; collegiate times; corduroy; Denim Day; dress clothing; letters to the editor

Subjects: LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

10:43 - Nancy Kelly: Denim Day expectations

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Forte: Could you speak a little bit about your expectations regarding Denim Day, and I mean, clearly you didn’t expect a wave of support, right, given your experience?

Keywords: awareness; gay rights; starting conversations

Subjects: LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

12:13 - Nancy Kelly: Fallout from Denim Day

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Kelly: We had married people that are going, I have three kids, and I think I’m gay, and I don’t know what to do.

Keywords: Better blatant than latent; Dean Dean; John Dalton; pray for our gay oppressor

Subjects: LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

17:14 - Reading: January 12, 1979. Collegiate Times. Letters to the editor by Tony Pirrone, and "Watch Out For Barefeet" by Earle McMichael, Kevin Squires, Walter Nelson, Sue Betterly.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Foster: To the editor. My reaction to the Gay Awareness Week stunt involving the denim look for support was a mixture of shock and disbelief.

Keywords: barefoot; corduroy; G.S.A.; gay awareness week

Subjects: Gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

19:44 - Scott Beadle: Experience on Denim Day and living in the dorms

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Beadle: Well I was an engineering student at the time, and I remember that day vividly.

Keywords: coming out; dorms; fire; flaunting heterosexuality; harrasment; ignorance; suits

Subjects: Gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

27:49 - Reading: January 16, 1979. The Collegiate Times. Letter to the editor "Pink Dorms?" by Gary Bray, Kevin Hauschildt, Mike Gogol, and Guy Kemmerly.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: January 16, 1979. The Collegiate Times.

Silas and Foster: We believe it is time that campus heterosexuals be given rights equal to those of homosexuals.

Keywords: alternative lifestyle dorm; dorm visitation policy; pink

Subjects: Gay college students; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

29:18 - Scott Beadle: What being gay means to him.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Beadle: My time here at Tech, I found me.

Keywords: gay pride; pride; self discovery

Subjects: Gay college students; Gay pride parades; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

30:18 - Olga Acosta: Coming out to her father

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Acosta: When I came out to my dad—he was my primary parent because my mother had passed away...

Keywords: authoritarian; class schedule; girlfriend; outed; self-acceptance; shrink

Subjects: Coming out (Sexual orientation)--United States; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

34:51 - Reading: January 16, 1979. Collegiate Times. Letter to the editor "A Support of Individuality" by Robert J. Wendt and Dan Oakley.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: January 16, 1979. Collegiate Times.

Silas: The Gay Student Alliance stated that to wear jeans on Denim Day, Wednesday the seventeenth, will signify support of gay rights.

Keywords: Denim Day; individuality; support

Subjects: gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

35:36 - Reading: January 19, 1979. Collegiate Times. Letters to the editor by Bob Lunney, Cass Lawrence, Charlie McCauley, and John Wiley.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: January 19, 1979. Collegiate Times. To the editor.

Foster: On behalf of all the straight men on campus, we would like to thank the Gay Student Alliance for holding Denim Day.

Keywords: flyers; skirts; well-dressed

Subjects: gay college students; Gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

36:35 - Andrew Alvarez: On speaking to a Sociology class

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Alvarez: I think in my case though, it didn’t come out of a healthy place.

Keywords: activism; sociology; stereotypes; survival

Subjects: Gay college students; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

40:38 - Andrew Alvarez: Experience on Denim Day and its importance

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Alvarez: There was a few schools had done it up to that point in the U.S. and so
we were not the first but at the same time we thought, oh, that’s a great

Keywords: anticlimatic; empowered; flyers; resentment; resist; speaking your truth; Steve Free

Subjects: Gay college students; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

46:30 - Reading: Collegiate Times. April 10, 1979. Letter to the editor by George Alvarez.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: At the time he was a student, Andrew Alvarez had a different name, George Alvarez.

Keywords: commandments; distorted thinking; hiding

Subjects: Gay college students; gay rights; Gay rights--Religious aspects; LGBT

48:23 - Reading: April 13, 1979. Collegiate Times. Letters to the editor by George E. Alvarez, Mary Siewert, Betsy Green, Roseanne Gunter.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: April 13, 1979. To the editor.

Foster: After reading the editorial “Will of God” today, I was commenting to myself about how all the author had to say was a bunch of crap, malarky, et cetera, et cetera.

Keywords: contridictions; George E. Alvarez; scripture; sin

Subjects: Gay college students; Gay rights--Religious aspects; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

52:57 - Reading: January 16, 1979. “Gays Subject to Repression and Discrimination,” by Sherry Wood.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: January 16, 1979. “Point-Counterpoint on Denim Day and Gay Awareness.”

Keywords: Denim Day; repression; Sherry Wood; stifling choice

Subjects: Discrimination--United States; Gay college students; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

54:50 - Sherry Wood: Experience on Denim Day

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Wood: I don’t really remember protests, per se, but what I did notice when I went to class that day was that there was a noticeable absence of denim.

Keywords: administration; attention; closeted; contempt; gay bar; noticeable absence; ostracized

Subjects: Gay college students; Gay college teachers; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

59:08 - Sherry Wood: Relevance of Denim Day in 2019

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Robidoux: Okay, so fast-forward to 2019.

Keywords: dissapointed; safety; Seacoast NH; son; Stonewall

Subjects: Coming out (Sexual orientation)--United States; gay rights; LGBT

62:01 - Reading: January 19, 1979. Collegiate Times. Editorial. "'Gay Day' Draws Record Response."

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: January 19, 1979. Sherry Lynn Wood, editor in chief.

Silas: Student awareness of Gay Awareness Week began with a very small article on the bottom of page two in the Tuesday, January ninth issue of the Collegiate Times.

Keywords: Commission on Student Affairs; polarizing; record-setting editorial response.; thirty letters.; unexpected response

Subjects: gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

64:15 - Edd Sewell: Experience on Denim Day

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Sewell: I didn't date at all in high school, either sex, either gender, either identity, and at one point my father said, why don't you take the car and get a date and go out?

Keywords: escape mechanism; internal struggles; toothbrushes

Subjects: gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

66:36 - Reading: January 12, 1979. Collegiate Times, Letter to the editor "Bring Your Toothbrush" by Eric Harder, Dan Chase, David Fadeley, Jeff Feamster.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: January 12, 1979. Collegiate Times, To the editor.

Foster: The idea of a Denim Day is an outrage to any thinking student on this campus.

Keywords: outrage; social embarrassment; toothbrush

Subjects: Gay college students; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

67:51 - Sueann Brown: Speaking to classes and Denim Day.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Brown: Fall quarter, the sophomore year, he came out to me and invited me to go to a talk his boyfriend was giving.

Keywords: empowering; feedback; gay awareness; human sexuality class; invisible minority; panel discussions; women's perspective

Subjects: Coming out (Sexual orientation); Gay college students; Gay pride parades; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

79:39 - Reading: January 16, 1979. Collegiate Times. Letter to the editor by Mark Erickson.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: January 16, 1979. Collegiate Times. To the editor.

Foster: Having read all the articles degrading the Gay Awareness Week in the letters to the editor section...

Keywords: closed minded; ignorance; normal

Subjects: Gay college students; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

81:45 - Reading: February 13, 1979. Collegiate Times. Letter to the editor by Sueann Brown.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: February 13, 1979. Collegiate Times. Note: the following letter was written by a member of the Virginia Tech Gay Student Alliance. If the author’s name were revealed, it could threaten his job.

Keywords: human rights; ignorance; job threatened; oppressed; stereotypes

Subjects: Discrimination--United States; Gay college students; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

84:44 - Steve Critchfield: Experience with Denim Day

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Critchfield: We were okay. But the university at that point was not very friendly.

Keywords: community; gay hotline; gay rights march; inconvenience; secrecy; socially acceptable

Subjects: Gay college students; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

94:13 - January 16, 1979. Collegiate Times. Letter to the editor "A Little Humor" by Carol Hall.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: January 16, 1979. Collegiate Times. To the editor.

Silas: I must say that I got a chuckle out of the announcement of Denim Day.

Keywords: humor; movement and media campaigns; silliness

Subjects: Gay college students; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

95:18 - Lisa and Mark Barroso: How the Collegiate Times responded to Denim Day.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Lisa Barroso: She was the one who outed me to Mark. She blew my cover.

Keywords: Ambler Johnston; discussion; editorial; off-color; outed; technical objection; virgin vault.

Subjects: Coming out (Sexual orientation)--United States; Gay college students; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

105:45 - Reading: January 16, 1979 Collegiate Times. "'Everyone Who Supports Gays Wear a Shirt" by Tim Chase.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: Oh, my goodness. And this would be that counterpoint to Sherry Wood’s op-ed written by Tim Chase...

Keywords: chagrin; drawing attention; forcing the issue; impose ideals; publicity

Subjects: Gay college students; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

107:59 - Helene Vachon: Experience with the GSA

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Helene Vachon: [sighs] I’m so calling the gay student alliance, I’m ready for this ‘cause I was not out to anyone.

Keywords: chosen family; consciousness raising; Deviants in Society class; internalized homophobia; Leroy; Nancy Kelly; Owen; panel; Positive experience; tribe

Subjects: Gay college students; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

115:14 - Reading: January 19, 1979. Collegiate Times Letters to the editor by Kevin F. Sebring and Diane Dalton.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: January 19, 1979. To the editor.

Foster: I am sitting here in the middle of my eleven o’clock class this fine Wednesday...

Keywords: embarrassment; freedom; individual; insecure; intense scrutiny; sexuality

Subjects: Gay college students; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

116:43 - Steve Noll: Living in Blacksburg and Involvement in GSA

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Forte: Did you meet any form of persecution here in Blacksburg?

Keywords: change of heart; comfortable; ignorance; lingering suspicion; motivated support; outrage; outreach; personal harassment; presentations; public speaking; regular meetings; violence

Subjects: Blacksburg (Va.); Gay college students; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

130:48 - Reading: April 29, 1980. The Collegiate Times. "CSA Bans Denim Day; Gays To Pray Instead" by Jeanelle Reed.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: So, I know we’re in violation of time. This is a year later...

Keywords: antagonize; awareness; Commission on Student Affairs; denied permission; Gay Prayer Day; inconvenience; James Dean; mail; Not Your Typical Blanket Night; restrict; Tell a Friend Day

Subjects: Gay college students; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

133:39 - Nancy Kelly: The importance of Denim Day and Fighting for rights.

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Kelly: The reason I came back was—there was several things—but one, I work with students.

Keywords: basic rights; human rights; Identity; inclusive; inspiration; political climate; progressive arc; repression; rights challenged

139:00 - Closing

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: Rinehart: Many of the extraordinary people that you just saw on the screen are in this room with us...

Keywords: community; conversations; extraordinary

Subjects: Gay college students; gay rights; LGBT; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Susanna Rinehart: Good evening everybody. How are ya? Woo! This is really happening! It's so cool! I am Susanna Rinehart, I happen to currently be the chair of theatre and cinema here at Virginia Tech, and a couple of months ago, in the middle of a busy day, I got an email with the subject heading, Derry Hutt said I should contact you. Derry Hutt knew that that was exactly the right kind 1:00of subject heading. So, in the middle of that day, I opened it up and it was an email from miss Nancy Kelly. [audience cheers] Who I believe some of you describe in your interviews as a really good instigator. She has not lost that touch in forty years. And so, by that afternoon, Nancy Kelly was in my office. I said you have about twenty minutes. I think after about an hour and a half to two hours she left with me having sold my soul to anything I can do, anything I can do. As I did that, I was like, right, and between now and then I think I'm directing a show, but I'll figure it out. I'll figure it out. There are not words for the honor and privilege I feel to be standing here to be part of 2:00telling the story of the people in this room and to have spent, oh I don't know, forty, fifty hours or something in the last week looking at these interviews and not sleeping very much because I sorta did it in my spare time. But being blown away by who you all are and who you were as people forty years ago and now and seeing this incredible through-line of who you all were at nineteen and twenty and who you all are now at sixty and sixty-five. It's stunning. So I had to take about fifteen hours of interviews and decide what to cut out to get it down to 3:00about an hour and twenty minutes of interviews. So, the first thing I want to say tonight is there are about five more films just in that raw footage, and I am not joking. Having done this most of my life, it is an exceedingly rare thing to look at rare footage of interviews--you typically go yeah immediately there's gonna be fifty, sixty, seventy percent of it that I want to toss out. It was the opposite. There was not a word, there was not a moment that I wanted to leave out of tonight, and that is not only a tribute to who you all are, the words you found to describe these relatively indescribable experiences, but also the people who are interviewing you, the people who are filming you, it's an incredible piece of work on so many people's parts. [applause] I just want to say, to me the words that kept coming up were community, chosen family, tribe, 4:00and by the time I finished with sitting with you and my laptop, I felt like I was part of that tribe or getting a sense of that, and I felt very honored about that. There was also a lot of laughter, and these people have beautiful laughs, and I thought about laughter. The laughter of survival, the laughter of overcoming and living through fear and pain and loss, and the laughter of pride and of understanding the power of action and of showing up and of speaking out, and that's what tonight is about. I have with me two of my dearest students, Caroline Silas and Kevin Foster, sitting in the shadows up there. They will have light on them. Some of you may recognize them as the leads in Fun Home, the 5:00Alison Bechdel musical from about a year ago. I got to direct them in that. It is just a great blessing to have them here, and most of the words that they're gonna be speaking are words that are not in their heart. They're gonna be reading a lot of the nasty awful letters and editorials. So, we're gonna go back and forth between the film and some of the primary documents of the time and we are going to start that now. Thank you all for being here.

[audience cheers]

[reading from text]

Rinehart: January 9, 1979. Collegiate Times. The Gay Student Alliance of Virginia Tech has received permission from the Commission on Student Affairs to advertise and sponsor Gay Awareness Week, January fifteenth to nineteenth. Fifteen members of the G.S.A. [Gay Student Alliance] went before the Commission last Thursday to request its approval of the Gay Awareness Week. A spokeswoman for the Alliance explained the events scheduled for the week.


Caroline Silas: On Monday, January fifteenth, WUVT will broadcast a Public Affairs Program "Gay Talk for Straight People," which will include a discussion of gay lifestyles and music by gay artists.

Kevin Foster: Tuesday will be Come Out to a Friend Day, during which gay students will be encouraged to tell a friend about their chosen lifestyle.

Silas: Wednesday is labeled Denim Day. Gay students and supporters of gay rights will be encouraged to wear jeans or denim of some sort.

Foster: A panel discussion, We Speak for Ourselves, is planned for Thursday in McBryde one-thirteen. The discussion will attempt to educate the audience about gay lifestyles and some of the problems they encounter as a result of their chosen lifestyle.

[reading ends]

[video begins]

Nancy Kelly: And when that came out in the newspaper, beginning of January, and the campus absolutely erupted. It was stunning, and people were outraged that we 7:00were gonna co-opt their dress choice for a day, and you also have to understand contextually, we had no cell phones, so there was one pay phone on every hall for a hundred people, and they were all plugged in the wall, and you had to know the number. No social media, no laptops, no computers. We had flyers, newspaper articles, television, and radio, but of course television only had four stations, so everything went through the Collegiate Times, so this little article, created a huge uproar, and a record number of letters to the editor, 8:00and outrage. People were furious, and upset, and it's only ten days [laughter]. There was a lag time because a letter--you had to actually write, put in mail, whatever. The university received twenty-five thousand letters. Twenty-five thousand. Now it wasn't just in ten days, but over the time period, so the letters to the editor--some were beautiful and understood what we were trying to do, and others were vitriolic and hateful--Let's put 'em in pink dorms, and, Y'all are fine, but keep it to yourselves, and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Part of what we did at the Gay Student Alliance, we made flyers. One of the most effective things we did is, we did this little half flyer with a dorm room closet. It had a pair of jeans and a denim jacket, and it had a person's hand 9:00coming out of the closet, and we had a little army of people, maybe--the Gay Student Alliance was twenty at the most, five women, fifteen guys roughly--so we had a little army of people on the night before Denim Day. We made thousands of flyers, and we went under every single dorm room door, and just said, Don't forget tomorrow's Denim Day. So come Denim Day we learned that the Blacksburg merchants had more sales of dress clothing in the winter than had been recorded. People were pulling together their corduroys, anything but blue jeans. Some chose to wear denim skirts to mock us, and basically we went, and it was a sea 10:00of corduroy. I mean no one- and everyone knew what day it was. There was no, oh, is this today? Maybe a few people that lived off campus wore jeans, and then somehow understood what the implication was, but again there were no allies, so it's not like you would be an ally. The Campus Crusade refused, and said, we're going to carry a toothbrush, and wear jeans, but our toothbrush says we don't support gay rights. We're just talking about basic human rights. It wasn't- [laughter] that's all we said, support gay rights, wear denim.

[cut in video]

Joe Forte: Could you speak a little bit about your expectations regarding Denim Day, and I mean, clearly you didn't expect a wave of support, right, given your experience?

Kelly: No, no, no we thought- we didn't even know people would pay attention.

Forte: But you were trying- slipping under every dorm door.

Kelly: Absolutely we tried. At that time there were twenty thousand students, 11:00and then faculty and staff, so we did not imagine that there would be an upwelling of support for gay rights because gay people didn't have rights. It was unthinkable for us to be treated- to have equality in marriage or any- I never believed that would ever happen personally, but the point was to think and to cause a conversation, to cause awareness so when people--even people today--I said we had Gay Awareness Week and we had Denim Day, support gay rights wear denim. Nobody wore denim. They're like, whoa, whoa, you failed, it's like unh-uh. We started conversations, but most important for us is that we opened 12:00the door for many, many people that were questioning, or understanding, or just trying to understand themselves.

[cut in video] We had married people that are going, I have three kids, and I think I'm gay, and I don't know what to do. The other thing that it did is it thrust us--these twenty kids--into being gay experts, like there were no resource centers. There were no therapists, no centers, so we got referrals from all over Southwest Virginia. People calling us, will you talk to these people? People didn't know what to do, so it just was- yes, we knew [laughter] people hated us. We just did it anyway. We did it anyway, and in any movement of any 13:00kind there has to be something that starts it, and the other thing is that everybody thought that gay people lived in New York City and in San Francisco and in Miami. They did not think that they were in Christiansburg and Shawsville and Elliston and in Blacksburg, so that was a big reckoning, and I think there have been so many changes and so many ways that have progressed because it's really about people, and when you get to know someone then you realize, oh well they're just not this person [laughter]. They're my brother, my- Anyways, so what happened after Denim Day was this huge eruption, and of course we were not- and I have to say there were many gay people that were furious that we did this. We outed them we made them not wear jeans or, this or that, so they were upset, 14:00but it really wasn't our intention, but it is what happened. On that day there were like twenty people wearing jeans, wasn't many. I had on my bib overalls--I'd like to say--with my button that was very trendy at the time that said better blatant than latent because, if you admitted you were a gay person that meant you were being blatant. Denim Day came and went and then being a co-president, the other co-president and I, John, were hauled off to Burruss Hall and the Dean Dean, which his name was James Dean, sat us down and just said, you all have embarrassed your group in this university, and you have embarrassed our university throughout the state, and we've heard from the 15:00governor's office, and I want to be very clear. You are never going to do this again. Hence he was the gentleman that had to answer the twenty-five thousand letters [laughter] that the university had received.

Forte: Who was the governor?

Kelly: Dalton. John Dalton. We just said, Mmm. Okay. I mean, I don't have all the memory, but it wasn't just the community at large. We were sat down by the administration to say, this is not okay, supporting your stunts, your whatever, and it was just basically- if you can imagine now, changing the preferred dress the choice of twenty-five thousand people in the middle of winter, what that would take. Even with social media, it was pretty epic, so the next year I'm 16:00happy to say we tried to do it again, and I was there. I believe still co-president, but there's another guy, Scott, that was the new co-president, and we tried to do it again, and Dean Dean was there, and I remember him putting his hands behind his head like, no way you're doing that again, and I think there's a quote in the paper that said, even if I lose my job you're not doing this again, so then we kind of scrambled and said well we'll have a pray for our gay oppressor day, so we'll just all get together and pray for y'all. Just like, hope you get over yourself, but anyways, it was needless to say, it was not as effective, but for those of us in it I think it did- I mean we were leaders of a thing that was highly unpopular and dangerous, and we did it anyway.


[video ends]

[reading from text]

Rinehart: [January 12,] 1979. Collegiate Times. To the editor.

Foster: My reaction to the Gay Awareness Week stunt involving the denim look for support was a mixture of shock and disbelief. Come off it! Why did you pick denim, including blue jeans, which I might add is almost the [Virginia] Tech uniform? Were you trying to get people to dress like they supported the gay cause? Were you that worried that you wouldn't get enough support? Were you so worried, in fact, that you would claim those who were possibly uninformed of this stunt, and accidentally wore denim, supporters of gay rights? Personally I've worn blue jeans every day that I've been to [Virginia] Tech, and now I have to wear corduroy pants, preferably not blue, just in case. Let's face it, you 18:00just didn't think about this action long enough, or maybe you did. Well if one of you or your group per chance happen to see me walking across the drill field, I will be dressed in my corduroys and a sweater showing where I stand on the views of gay rights. Hopefully others will read this so that we can get a true account of gay rights support on campus, predicted in a much earlier article on gay rights to be two thousand strong. Tony Pirrone. Junior, Biology.

Rinehart: Same day. Collegiate Times. To the editor.

Silas: In reference to the G.S.A. Denim Day, we feel that it is not fair to play on people's preference to wear denim. Observation of students will show that a very large percentage normally wear denim, and therefore, it is unfair to assume that those students wearing denim are gay or are in support of gay rights.

Silas and Foster: Let it be known that we, the undersigned, and most other normal people, do not support G.S.A. and will not recognize a Denim Day, and 19:00therefore, will continue to wear our jeans. If the G.S.A. insists on a Denim Day, we propose that all non-supporters of the G.S.A. and gay rights wear shoes, boots, or other footwear on Wednesday, January 17, 1979. Watch out for barefoot people!

Silas: Earle McMichael, Animal Science, Senior.

Foster: Kevin Squires, Forestry, Senior.

Silas: Walter Nelson, Animal Science, Senior.

Foster: Sue Betterly, Accounting, Sophomore.

[reading ends]

[video begins]

Scott Beadle: Well I was an engineering student at the time, and I remember that day vividly. Getting up and putting on my jeans because it was cold. It was January. It was rainy, and anyone that comes to [Virginia] Tech knows the Drillfield is a mud pit. So I got my duck boots. [video fades out and then back] 20:00I got my duck boots. I got my jeans, and I'm headed off to my 8:00 a.m. engineering class. I walked in, and the entire class, all the students were dressed in suits. Every single one. When I walked in the class got silent. Everybody looked up. Nobody said anything, but that reaction was like, oh. And I thought to myself, don't you look ridiculous sitting here. The women were in high heels and nylon stockings when the Drillfield has two inches of mud. It's pouring down rain. It's thirty some degrees, and I thought to myself, you're the one that looks stupid. I had a good friend from high school. I thought she was gonna wear jeans that day. She knew, and she didn't. When I saw her she said she 21:00had intended to wear them, but she slipped and fell when she walked out of her dorm, so she had to go change, and she had nothing else to change in to, so I just had to take her at her word. That hurt. It was almost like she didn't think I deserved equal rights. I was less than human or not as good as her or [shrugs]. I kinda forgot about that.

Forte: But she was aware in high school?

Beadle: I think so. I'm pretty sure. I think it was the first year we had Gay Awareness Week. One of the days was, Oh By the Way I'm Gay Day, so you had to come out to somebody, and so of course I went to tell her, and I was like, Fran, by the way, I'm gay, and she was like, I know. But I had to tell somebody, I 22:00didn't know who else to tell. And so she always, she knew. Yeah, but her not wearing jeans on Denim Day kind of, kind of hurt, but there's no hard feelings. That's where she was at the time. That's where her mindset was, her knowledge base. Her experience. And I don't fault anyone for not wearing jeans that day. That's where we were at that time. When I came out to my parents they struggled with it. It was the time. It was the knowle- or, lack of knowledge, I guess I should say, lack of knowledge, lack of experience. And they didn't have that knowledge because there were so many of us still in the closet. We didn't come out. We weren't open, we weren't out there, so to speak. The Gay Student Alliance couldn't meet on campus. We had to meet off campus for fear of whatever, and I was subject to that living in the dorms. Especially after Gay 23:00Awareness Week cause I was probably the only one in my dorm that wore jeans, but I would come home from classes, or I would wake up in the morning not sure what I was gonna find outside my dorm room. I came home one time, someone had taken shaving cream and sprayed faggot over the door. They Vaseline-d my doorknob, so I couldn't grip it. I couldn't get in. I came home from class one day, and they had shoved newspapers under my door and lit them, so they set my dorm door on fire. That was probably the most terrifying. Their behavior started changing. I get up in the morning and go to shower, they would run out of the shower. They'd shout faggot. They'd shout things like, don't drop the soap, and I just held my 24:00head high and I just went about my day. It's who I was. I remember the R.A. came to me when all this was going on, I certainly challenged them I think because they had a responsibility. They worked for the university. They had to maintain, whatever you want to call it, the culture, but they didn't necessarily agree with what we were doing, and he came to me one time and he said, we've gotten complaints that you've altered your shower schedule. And I was like, what? He says, yeah, you're now taking showers at different times during the day, and I was like, do you want to see my class schedule? I have always had 8:00 a.m. classes. I have always gotten up, I have always showered at these times. I think it's just that they're more aware that I'm in the shower with them now. But yeah, to accuse me of adjusting my shower schedule, I don't know what he thought 25:00I was going to do in the shower. I was five foot nine and a hundred and ten pounds. What am I going to do to some guy in the shower, but that was the ignorance back then, and I mean ignorance meaning lack of knowledge. Not the- they were just ignorant. They didn't know any better.

[video ends]

[video begins]

Beadle: I was living my life so they could see that a gay person is just a normal person out there living their life, and being gay is just a small part of who I am. I was a student, I was a brother, I was a son, I was career minded, and I happen to be gay. So I never really thought of myself as an activist. I just was doing it because it was the right thing to do. We wanted equal rights. 26:00We wanted recognition. We're here. We don't want to take anybody's rights away, we just want the same ones that you have. It's like when marriage equality finally got through the Supreme Court. I had the C.E.O. of the company that I worked for came up to me and said, this whole marriage thing [laughter], he goes, is it really about the word marriage or is it about the rights. I said, it's about the rights. You can call it a banana, I don't care what you call it. We deserve the same rights and legal protections that you get. And he had said to me in an earlier conversation that he admired me at work because everybody kinda knew I was gay. I didn't walk in the room and say, hello, I'm the gay person. They just assumed, and I came to work and I did my job, and I was very good at my job, and he says, you didn't flaunt it. And I took a step back and I said, you mean the way you flaunt it. And he said, what? I said, your wedding 27:00band. You're flaunting it. You're flaunting your heterosexuality. I don't have that right. I said, I walk in your office, there's pictures of your wife and your kids. I can't put the picture of my partner in my office. I said, so you flaunt your heterosexuality every day. Needless to say I did have a picture of my partner in my office after that, and I'm proud to say I've been with my partner almost twenty-nine years. We've been married almost four. And everyone said, well what took you so long? I said, the Supreme Court. [laughter]

[reading from text]

Rinehart: January 16, 1979. The Collegiate Times.

Silas and Foster: We believe it is time that campus heterosexuals be given rights equal to those of homosexuals. We should not be discriminated against 28:00because of our sexual preference. We are referring to the dorm visitation policy.

Foster: Heterosexuals have restricted visitation by members of the opposite sex; whereas homosexuals have unlimited visitation by members of the same sex. We do not feel that this is fair and propose a solution. We suggest that the university set up a special alternative lifestyle dorm where homosexuals would be required to have roommates of the opposite sex, and room visits by members of the same sex could only be made during certain hours. The dorm should be painted pink making it easily recognized and avoided by people of the normal lifestyle. Then again, maybe a better solution is for the gays to just stay in the closet and consider themselves lucky. Gary Bray, Engineering, Freshman. Kevin Hauschildt, Engineering, Freshman. Mike Gogol, Engineering, Freshman. Guy 29:00Kemmerly, Engineering, Freshman.

Rinehart: Editor's note: this letter was accompanied by eighteen other signatures which could not be printed due to space limitations.

[reading ends]

[video begins]

Beadle: My time here at [Virginia] Tech, I found me. I discovered who I was. I think my values and morals might have became more grounded. I had that at home, but it just became more clear, and I think sometimes pride, whether it's gay pride or regular pride, it's just all about showing up, and just being your true self. Doing the best that you can be. Helping others, lifting each other up. To me, that's pride because somebody said something about gay pride parades and stuff like that. I said, I understand them. It's not who I am. For me, being- 30:00gay pride is just showing up every day in everyday life and showing them that being gay is just a small part of who I am.

[video ends]

[video begins]

Olga Acosta: When I came out to my dad--he was my primary parent because my mother had passed away, and I had a stepmother that I was not close with, so my dad was my primary parent--so, I came out to my dad when he asked. Then, he went to my high school and had my whole high school schedule changed so I wouldn't be in any classes with any of those gay friends that he had me disclose to him. It's a friendly manipulation. He also went to my girlfriend's house and told her parents who were extremely conservative, and it very much affected that 31:00girlfriend negatively because she was not completely gay, she was bisexual.

Forte: And she was not out to them?

Acosta: And she was not out to them and my dad outed her. We were not a long-term relationship probably because of those stressors and probably because she was bisexual. He made a mess of that. He's very authoritarian, policeman. But he took control and had me drop out of my classes. So, I'm very glad I never mentioned Susan's name to him as one of my gay friends because she is the friend who drove me to Virginia Tech. The girlfriend. And I didn't mention her name. [laughing]

Forte: That was intentional?

Acosta: I think that was maybe, uh, yeah. Maybe, probably- it probably was, for 32:00how it worked out.

Forte: Also you said, when he asked, about coming out to your father?

Acosta: Yes.

Forte: So-

Acosta: So he had some clues. He had some clues. My father was published in police journals and the main topic he was published in was why homosexuals should not be in the force. So I was his nice surprise. Big Hispanic family, which I'm not saying- there's a lot of Hispanic lesbians, but at the time I came out, I don't think it was as popular- that that culture would not follow the traditional path of lifestyle. So my father was a tough one. My father was extremely tough. When I came to [Virginia] Tech, and the way my father did with 33:00both my brother and I when we did something bad as a child- if Peter did something bad, his love was guitar, so the guitar would be taken away. So, I don't know what they did for me because my brother was much more bad than me. [laughter] And had his guitar taken away a lot. So I was afraid if I came out to my- although I had come out to him. They sent me to my step-mother's shrink. And this was just around the time the Diagnostic Manual for Psychiatry changed homosexuality from a disorder to more normalcy which was a big deal in psychiatry. So she sends me to her shrink because they're hoping it's a phase. They're hoping it's a big phase. The shrink, thank goodness, said I don't think 34:00you have a problem. It's your parents that have some things to work out. So, he was a very good turning point in my acceptance of myself.

[video ends]

[video begins]

Acosta: That was a wonderful experience for us. I think we felt brave. I think we felt brave and I think we felt an opportunity to share something about ourselves that we valued and helped define ourselves while we were speaking. I think that was really fantastic. It's something.

[video ends]

[reading from text]

Rinehart: January 16, 1979. Collegiate Times.

Silas: The Gay Student Alliance stated that to wear jeans on Denim Day, Wednesday the seventeenth, will signify support of gay rights. We consider the 35:00term gay rights ambiguous. Will wearing jeans show individual gayness, or will wearing jeans be interpreted as a support of individuality, in this case, expressed through gay practices. Our belief is that wearing denim on Denim Day will express our support of individuality. Therefore, we support the gay's right to believe that homosexuality is right for him, while still believing that homosexuality is wrong for us. Robert J. Wendt, Fisheries. Dan Oakley, Geology.

Rinehart: January 19, 1979. Collegiate Times. To the editor.

Foster: On behalf of all the straight men on campus, we would like to thank the Gay Student Alliance for holding Denim Day. We haven't seen so many well-dressed women and skirts since we don't know when. Bob Lunney, Cass Lawrence, and Charlie McCauley.

Rinehart: To the editor.


Foster: Just a thought: If this week is Gay Awareness Week, why was it that the Gay Student Alliance flyers advertising Denim Day were distributed in my dorm between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m.? Was the G.S.A. representative or supporter ashamed of something? John Wiley, Junior, Communications.

[reading ends]

[video begins]

Andrew Alvarez: I think in my case though, it didn't come out of a healthy place. I come from a military family. My father was a lifer. He was a marine and Catholic and Cuban, and I was the first-born son. So I had a lot of baggage that I had to throw off. So for me, the whole activism thing, that period was 37:00survival. It was not sort of an acknowledgement. It was, I'm here, I'm not gonna go away. I'm here, I'm queer, I'm not gonna go away. It was more like stepping into an identity, or stepping into my own identity. This was sort of part of it. But I'm really convinced I would have been dead, five, seven years. If I had stayed in that mindset, there was so negative and so repressive. When I got the invite to speak to a class, it was a Sociology class in the Winter of [19]77. Somebody, word of mouth, and this professor calls me. He wanted me to come in and speak to his Social Deviance class. Which, on the surface, today we would say that's a little offensive, but at the time it was more like, well I guess that's what gay lifestyles come under. My experience of that was so empowering. 38:00I didn't have to do anything. I just showed up, and I answered questions. It was a review class. A sociology review class. So it was probably about a hundred and fifty, two hundred people in the room. It was liberating because they were expecting a freak, and I wasn't a freak. I was just sorta like myself. I think just by showing up, I helped to dispel a lot of their stereotypes. For me it was acknowledging and- it was an ego trip at first. The student group sort of evolved around that time. It was mostly the women. Nancy had taken the lead and Sueann. There are a few people that kind of pop out at me. There were a few guys but there were more- they didn't really want to be out there. So, I identified 39:00more with the lesbians. [laughter] I have to admit. And to this day, really, a lot of my values and where I come from and everything else. That's how it started for me. It was an invite to speak to a Sociology class that got repeated and then I would bring people with me and that kind of thing. But, my parents who had told me, nothing gay when you go off to college, we don't want to hear or see anything. My mom called me that weekend--I was trying to make my mind up about speaking to this class--she calls me, she tells me, well if you do it, I'm disowning you--and she did, for a couple years--And I said, well gosh, thanks for calling mom cause you really helped. [laughter] That's sort of my attitude. It was like, really? So for me, it was more a psychological necessity that I get up and I speak. I be there, I be present, I be- that I exist and not stay 40:00invisible. So for me, that's what it was. I'd say with Nancy--this is total projection on my part--she was much healthier in her- in who she was. And for me, it was a journey to find myself. I was eighteen, nineteen, twenty years old. In that sense, it was extremely positive.

[video ends]

[video begins]

Alvarez: There was a few schools had done it up to that point in the U.S. and so we were not the first but at the same time we thought, oh, that's a great idea. It's something easy to do, and I think we had a whole week of activities. It wasn't just Denim Day. I think there was a round table. So there was a number of 41:00different things that happened in a week, but that was sorta the [gestures pointing upward] big piece of it, if you will. I think it mighta been on Monday or Tuesday, and it was- For me the day itself was less dramatic than the night before when we had to put the flyers underneath the doors. For me, when I remember that day, that's what I remember. I remember starting at the top of Lee Hall, and I believe it was with Steve Free. I believe he was the other person, we were teamed up. And I don't remember many of the names. We put flyers under the door, and I fully expected to be verbally accosted, maybe physically. I had 42:00all these ideas, and when I stepped outta that building after twenty, twenty-five minutes of putting these flyers under the doors I was a different person because I was so afraid--we all were really, we didn't know what to expect--that as we were putting these flyers un- I just fully expected these doors to fly open and guys to come at us but they didn't do that. They were a few guys that would open up their doors--this was an all male dorm--they would open doors and look out to see, oh yeah, okay, that's a gay g- a fag, or that's a gay person. But none of this shouting or threatening or- and the few that did sort of stick their head out and make themselves known, I just storta turned around and stopped like, okay, what're you gonna do, and I was bigger, I mean I was a big--I'm bigger now but--I mean, I was a big guy, and people didn't mess 43:00with me. I think that had something to do with it. But I gotta tell you, the person that walked outta that building was a different person than started that process. And I took that with me. To this day, I don't stand for any- if we're in a mixed group and someone makes a off color remark 'cause they don't really know, I make sure they know. I don't shy away from just sort of stating your own truth. But there was quite a bit of outrage the next day. For me, it was the night before. Whatever happened that week was sort of anticlimactic because I felt so empowered by the act of just being out and letting people know about this event that, of course, pissed off everybody because they only had jeans.--I wore jeans today in honor of that event.--They really resented not having the 44:00choice to wear their usual costume which was jeans. [laughter]

[video ends]

[video begins]

Alvarez: I don't know, besides the fact of remembering and wanting the young people coming up now to know the past so that they can not make the same mistakes, hopefully, and appreciate what they're enjoying now. I think the other piece of that would be, given what's happening now in the world, especially in the U.S., how important it is to resist in any way that you can, against these 45:00forces which I would call the deplorables--sorry, sometimes it does feel like that--the folks that would judge you, people that would put you in a box, people that would kill you really for just being who you are, not make your cake because you're gay. That is still alive but at the same time it's important for each of us in our own way to resist that limitation, and that reinforcement that shows up in our environment all the time, the unspoken. So, I guess I would say it's now as important or, if not, more, to be present and resist in ways that 46:00you're comfortable in and don't let people put you in a box. [laughter] You're a gift and we are each a gift. In our craziness, we're all a gift. I see it that way.

[video ends]

Rinehart: At the time he was a student, Andrew Alvarez had a different name, George Alvarez.

[reading from text]

Rinehart: Collegiate Times. April 10, 1979.

Foster: To the editor. In response to Mike Johnson's letter of the March thirtieth issue in which he very clearly spells out the will of God for us, I wish to remind Mr. Johnson that he forgot one fact, God is in each of us, gay people and non-gay people alike. Jesus, the son of the above God, never said 47:00word one about sex. You know, that filthy human activity. Further, Mike, we are told in Matthew that when asked the most important commands in the laws of Moses, Jesus replied the first being, love the lord your God, and the second most important, love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. It's my opinion that we need to expand the context with which we view love and sexuality for everyone. Men can love other men and women other women, with or without the physical expression of that love. Contrary to popular myth, gays are not total sexual beings. Further, as sex and love-making are not solely procreative acts, it's time we viewed sex as the creative expression of the person. Every person's needs are different. Gays are not creatures from space. They live and breathe a lot like you, all around you! Who knows perhaps you have friends who are gay and hiding. Oh my God. Who aren't ready yet to deal with your distorted thinking 48:00about what gay is. To set the record straight, so to speak, gayness is the ability and desire to love and physically express the love for someone of the same gender. Amen. George Alvarez, International Studies.

Rinehart: April 13, 1979. To the editor.

Foster: After reading the editorial "Will of God" today, I was commenting to myself about how all the author had to say was a bunch of crap, malarky, et cetera, et cetera. Then signed at the end, to my dismay, was with my name. That's right my name. The purpose of this article is to redeem myself in the eyes of those Virginia Tech students who may confuse me with the author of that letter. I am not a faggot, nor do I even condone such an attitude of lifestyle. George L. Alvarez, I have had enough. After being harrassed by my banker about a 49:00bad check passed by the Gay Student Alliance, written to you and credited to me, receiving letters from grandmothers I don't know and now this, I must demand that it all end. George L. Alvarez, get back in the closet before you ruin me. George E. Alvarez, Accounting.

Rinehart: April 13, 1979. Collegiate Times. To the editor.

Silas: This is in response to the letter which appeared in the April tenth issue of the C.T. by George Alvarez. Mr. Alvarez, we commend you for looking to the Bible, as the word of God, as your authority. Unfortunately, you have passed by many points in scripture which seem to contradict statements in your letter. The first mistake you make is the statement, God is in everybody. According to the Bible, Mr. Alvarez, this is clearly not the case. You see, God could not exist in everybody, indeed in anybody, because we are all sinners, Romans 3:23. The payment which God has set forth for sin is death, Romans 6:23, and fortunately 50:00he sent Jesus Christ to pay this penalty for us. God now only exists in those persons who have asked Jesus to come into their hearts and pay their penalty for sin, John 1:12. We could not appear before God on our own because we are sinners, but Christ represents those who are willing to be led by him. So you see, Mr. Alvarez, a person is only born of God if he makes a decision to be born of God. Just because you are born an American and a non-Jew doesn't mean you're born a Christian. Therefore, we doubt many gays are born of the same God we are. The second point we'd like to mention is that Jesus did speak about sex. If you turn to Matthew 5:27-29, you can clearly see that Jesus did indeed speak about sex and that his advice is that if your eye causes you to sin by lust, it would be better for you to pluck it out than to continue sinning. Speaking of sin, Mr. Alvarez, this may surprise you, but the Bible does speak about homosexuality. In Leviticus 18:22-29, homosexuality is spoken of as another word for sin, an 51:00offense against the lord. You can't argue, Mr. Alvarez, that the Old Testament is outdated on this point or doesn't speak to us today as much as the New Testament because God doesn't change. He considers a sin today with the same attitude he did five thousand years ago. If you read through to verse 29, the penalty for homosexuality and sodomy was that a person be cut off from the people to cleanse them from any evil. Now we don't argue that we should shut off homosexuals from society, but we don't think God wants us to condone their behavior in the least. Another good example of God's view of homosexuality and sodomy is found in the account of the destruction of Sodom--where do you think the word sodomy comes from--and Gomorrah, Genesis 18-19, which God utterly destroyed because of their immorality. We agree that gays need to be loved just like anyone else, but it is possible to love the sinner and hate the sin. God has been doing it ever since man's fall into sin. Mr. Alvarez, we submit for your consideration that Mr. Johnson is not as ignorant of human nature as you 52:00may think. You are right in saying that whatever occurs in nature is natural, and according to the Bible, the natural thing for man to do is to sin. Romans 1:18-32 speaks about a progression of sin and ends in verse 32 by saying that we, as humans, take pleasure in sin--11 Thessalonians 2:11-12 also speaks of this. Sin is fun! But just because it is fun and natural doesn't mean that it is necessarily right. We can rationalize our ways into or out of anything, and ultimately it doesn't really matter how man views homosexuality; the most important aspect is how God views it. Mr. Alvarez, let us encourage you to consider this last point: every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the lord ponders the heart, Proverbs 21:2. Mary Siewert, Junior, Biology. Betsy Green, Sophomore, Family and Child Development. Roseanne Gunter, Junior, Biology.

Rinehart: January 16, 1979. "Point-Counterpoint on Denim Day and Gay Awareness." 53:00Editorial. "Gays Subject to Repression and Discrimination," by Sherry Wood.

Silas: The question most people are asking about the Gay Student Alliance's Denim Day on Wednesday is, why denim? Denim is the [Virginia] Tech uniform. Why not wear something like a red scarf to show you support gay rights? I believe that the G.S.A.'s reasoning lies somewhat deeper than the obvious. Appearances indicate that the G.S.A. is trying to take advantage of the [Virginia] Tech inclination to wear denim, so that on Wednesday it will look like a lot of people support gay rights. But I do not think this is the G.S.A.'s purpose. I think the G.S.A. is trying for a more profound point. The majority of [Virginia] Tech students wear denim, right? And it seems that many [Virginia] Tech students resent the G.S.A.'s ability, in this case, to stifle or alter their prerogative to wear jeans, an accepted part of their lifestyle. I think the G.S.A.'s point is this: if the [Virginia] Tech community is upset because for one day its wardrobe choice is stifled by the G.S.A., how should gay students feel when every day their sexuality choice is stifled? Wardrobe choice is a trivial matter 54:00when compared to choice of sexuality. And one day of repression is trivial when compared to countless days of repression. I think the G.S.A. is trying to make students get a taste of repression. From the looks of the letters to the editor we've gotten, [Virginia] Tech student's don't like it. Well think, people, think. You are persons, human beings who do not enjoy repression. Gays are persons, human beings who also do not enjoy repression. Most of us are undeniably repressing gay persons' rights to express, even nominally, their sexuality. You don't like repression? You don't like being told what to wear? What can I say? You want to have freedom, but you don't want to share it. That's just plain ignorant and unfair. Maybe the Bible says it best: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Sherry Lynn Wood.

[reading ends]

[video begins]

Sherry Wood: I don't really remember protests, per se, but what I did notice when I went to class that day was that there was a noticeable absence of denim. 55:00In fact, I would say that maybe twenty or thirty percent of people wore denim instead of ninety percent. That was a pretty big statement in and of itself.

[cut in video]

Carol Robidoux: Speaking of fashion, do you happen to remember what you wore on Denim Day?

Wood: I do. I wore jeans, 'cause it was January so it was cold, and I had a denim vest. So I had two pieces of denim on. My first class that day was a philosophy class, Existentialism and Phenomenology. I walked into the class, sat in my usual seat, took off my coat, and a guy who had been sitting across from me through most of the other classes came in. He takes off his coat, sits down next to me, takes one look. And he had been sort of smiling at me before he took a closer look. Then his whole face transformed into this really, like, 56:00contemptuous, sort of angry, disgusted look. He actually sort of snorted, he sort of made a, hmph, sound, got up, picked up his books and jacket, and like, walked off, and like, moved to the back of the class. He wouldn't even sit next to me.

Robidoux: So it did have an impact.

Wood: It did have an impact. I was really, again, maybe it has to do with being twenty and like, sort of a positive, upbeat person. It was a good lesson for me, though. It was like I had this very minor encounter in my everyday life with somebody who ostracized me in a way. A very minor way, obviously, because of a statement I was making about my political views. That was an eye-opener for me. I didn't think anybody would pay that much attention, really.

Robidoux: So in hindsight, would you call the event itself a success?

Wood: It was a success because so many people paid attention to it. I think more people than the G.S.A. anticipated, certainly as evidenced by the flood of 57:00letters to the newspaper. The other thing that came out of that for me, as far as the Virginia Tech community, was after that editorial appeared, I was contacted directly by a number of people who were in the administration or teachers who were closeted gay people who wanted to have one-on-one meetings and just talk. So I had a series of really interesting--again, everything was off the record. This was a personal meeting. This was not about something I was writing for the paper. One of the people I met with for lunch was a professor, he was in his late thirties. He told me he lived every day in fear that he would be outed and would lose his job. He was quite convinced he would have no support in the Virginia Tech community to keep his job if it were revealed that he were gay. Another person worked in administrative support in Burruss Hall, the 58:00main--not in the president's office but that whole administrative complex there. We met at a bar for a drink. One thing I noticed, he had very nicely manicured fingernails and his hair was kind of long. As we were talking, he started telling me these stories about how--at that time, it was called cross-dressing. Obviously not the correct term now, but that was what it was called in 1979.--And how he had these encounters. He would go down to Roanoke, which was the closest gay bar, dressed as a woman, and how he'd had some really scary experiences, because these guys would hang out, kind of redneck-y guys, wait for people to come out late at night from the bar, because everybody knew it was a gay bar, and harass people. In one case, he said, he only didn't get assaulted because he could outrun these guys in high heels. He had high heels on. That's sort of funny in a way, but it also speaks to the times. People were prepared to 59:00beat you up when you came out of the gay bar in Roanoke, which was the only gay bar that I knew of when I was a Virginia Tech student.

[cut in video]

Robidoux: Okay, so fast-forward to 2019. Talk a little bit about where you are now in your life forty years later, and anything about your life now that relates to this experience from forty years ago.

Wood: Well, probably personally the biggest event related to me about gay rights was having my own son come out when he was sixteen years old, and now that's been eighteen years. He's thirty-four now. Even though I thought I was a relatively open-minded, sensitive, sensitized mom on the issue of gay rights, it still was a shock to me. He later told me that he was disappointed in my response. I wasn't negative, but I was just quiet. I didn't really say that 60:00much. My primary concern, and you hear this from a lot of parents of gay children, is, I mean, I was worried about his health, I was worried about his safety. I wanted him to have a normal, safe life. The biggest revelation for me is, I suddenly understood--he was sixteen and at the time, I had an eleven year-old daughter--that's when it really came into my consciousness that there really is no such thing, that you can't control your children's lives and you have to open yourself up to what their experience is. So, that was a personally politicizing moment. I did become more involved locally in the whole issue of gay rights, and in fact at the moment I'm involved with a local historical society I've been involved with forever, but we're doing a gay rights-oriented 61:00exhibit that opens May of 2019 related to this region I live in in Seacoast, New Hampshire. So that particular gay experience, but it also coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City. That'll be fifty years in June. And we're doing a whole bunch of stuff during Pride Month, which is in June, all sorts of events related to that. So, it did radicalize me. I mean, I'm not marching around with signs or anything, but I quietly and consistently try to find ways to support the whole issue. I know gay rights, LGBTQ and more, I understand that, but you have to make allowances for my age. So, gay is kind of the operative word I grew up with. But, it is part of my daily consciousness.

[video ends]

[reading from text]

Rinehart: January 19, 1979. Sherry Lynn Wood, editor in chief.


Silas: Student awareness of Gay Awareness Week began with a very small article on the bottom of page two in the Tuesday, January ninth issue of the Collegiate Times. When we ran the article as a routine report on a Commission on Student Affairs meeting, we had no idea we'd be unleashing a flood of opinion that started with a trickle of letters and culminated in a record-setting editorial response. In the past four years, the only topic to elicit more response was a letter in 1977 about two male [Virginia] Tech students whose pastime was kicking the guts out of cats. The cat-kickers got about fifty letters. All abusive. Gay Awareness Week, most particularly, Denim Day, got about thirty letters. Some were abusive. Some were favorable. But all had strong points of view. I am disgusted, began one letter. It will be a cold day in hell before I let a gay or anyone else influence my dress, another letter said. I personally find it hard to believe that people are so willing to brand any segment of society as 63:00abnormal or unequal on the basis of their sexual preference, religion, et cetera. For those who are so quick to pass such moral judgements I cross my fingers and pray that you are not the people who will one day run my country, one letter read. And so on. But whatever the individual opinions, there were definitely opinions about Gay Week, as most students called it. We didn't expect this kind of response, a member of [Virginia] Tech's Gay Student Alliance said. We figured the week would go by pretty much unnoticed. There have been other Gay Awareness Weeks at other schools in this country. Rutgers University in New Jersey has a Gay Awareness Week and Denim Day every year. So do many other East and West Coast schools, the G.S.A. spokesperson said. If this sort of thing happened in New York, people would probably yawn, the spokesperson said. They didn't yawn at Virginia Tech. Is your world going to come crashing down if you don't wear blue jeans one day out of the year?, another C.T. reader wrote. And so it went. But whatever the side taken there was plenty of sound and fury and response. And for a generation of college-goers with a reputation for 64:00comfortable silence and settled apathy, this kind of response denotes that Gay Awareness Week, whatever its implications, hit close to the Hokie heart.

[reading ends]

[video begins]

Edd Sewell: I didn't date at all in high school, either sex, either gender, either identity, and at one point my father said, why don't you take the car and get a date and go out? I said, well I've got studies to do, or something like that. He said, what are you some kind of queer? I thought, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, there goes my college tuition, there goes my... you know. So at that point then I became even more withdrawn and internalized and chose to--instead of going to the University of Nebraska--to go to a small college where I didn't know anyone, 'cause a lot of high school kids would've gone to Nebraska. Also 'cause I went to high school in Omaha. So that was sort of an escape mechanism 65:00but it was also interesting that you had to deal with your own internal struggles. I think Denim Day was sort of that for many people. Just the idea that you had to make a decision.

Forte: To wear it on the outside?

Sewell: To wear it on the outside, and if you were wearing denim people might not think, oh he is gay or she is a lesbian, but, oh they... they identify, okay.

[video ends]

[video begins]

Sewell: One thing that did- one of the strange things--and I know I didn't create this, I've talked with at least one other person about it--there were some students who wore toothbrushes around their neck.

Forte: We've heard that, yeah.


S: Okay, have you heard that?

Forte: Yeah.

S: You know I'm not sure, were they just going to brush away the bad stuff or what, but it was kind of ridiculous to walk around campus--and there weren't a lot of them. I'm not sure exactly which religious group it was. I've got an idea, but- To see students wearing toothbrushes around their neck, sort of an anti-statement. I don't remember if there was anyone in class who had a toothbrush around their neck that day.

[video ends]

[reading from text]

Rinehart: January 12, 1979. Collegiate Times, To the editor.

Foster: The idea of a Denim Day is an outrage to any thinking student on this campus. Such a demonstration severely lacks originality, even indicating an absence of careful thought among its originators. Since almost seventy percent of [Virginia] Tech's students wear blue jeans every day, a visitor to the [Virginia] Tech campus on Wednesday will be amazed at the scarcity of denims, 67:00because the majority of [Virginia] Tech's students, we hope, are not homosexuals. We sympathize with those people whose college wardrobe consists of nothing but blue jeans. Therefore, to keep these students from being inflicted with the social embarrassment of association with the gay community, we propose that straight students, who must or wish to wear jeans, carry a toothbrush with them all day Wednesday. The authors of Denim Day are afraid to be different and be seen with their beliefs. However, we are not afraid to be different and show that we are straight. Eric Harder, Freshman, Biology. Dan Chase, Freshman, Computer Science. David Fadeley, Sophomore, Electrical Engineering. Jeff Feamster, Freshman, Business.

[reading ends]

[video begins]

Sueann Brown: Fall quarter, the sophomore year, he came out to me and invited me 68:00to go to a talk his boyfriend was giving. He was dating the president of the Gay Student Alliance at the time, and he was gonna be on a panel talking to a human sexuality class. I went to go see Leroy's boyfriend talk to this class. It was one of these big lecture halls, like a hundred students or whatever and three gay men on this panel sitting down in front of the room. It was great just listening to their interaction with the class and them being honest and open about who they were and telling their story. But, the one thing that I felt like was missing was the fact that all three of them were men, and they were missing the women's perspective. I thought to myself that next time they do one of these 69:00classes I am gonna be there to present the lesbian side of the story. Keep in mind I had not at this point come out, so that was another step in my journey. Even that day even though I had that realization, and I was there with my best friend, Leroy, I didn't say a word Leroy about it then. But I think it was a few weeks later that I did and sure enough next time one of those classes came up I was indeed on the panel, being one of the people sharing my story.

Eliza Goode: So cool and so powerful.

Brown: It's an interesting thing for me to have chosen to do because I am not somebody who craves the spotlight. I shy away from it as much as possible. It's 70:00a little odd that I'm even doing this interview. But I think that I really saw how important that was and how meaningful it could be. That panel that I went to had an effect on my life, and if I could help ease the way for just one other gay or lesbian student that would be worth the fear of getting up in front a crowd of people and talking. Which honestly for me is like a phobia, a public speaking phobia. I'm a little better now than I was then but talking in front of any class was hard for me, you know, reading a book report or something in front of class, and yet I was going into this classes in Virginia in the [19]70s where people were not necessarily supportive of gay and lesbian students and I was gettin' up there and sayin' this is who I am, this is my story. It was an 71:00amazing, powerful thing for me, very empowering for me, and I definitely felt like I was doing a good thing for other people. The feedback that we got from the students that were in the class, that would come up to us afterwards or call a week later and say, Hey I went to this class and now I- you know... turns out I'm gay too. We had those experiences all the time and it was--or somebody would come up and say, My brother came out last year, and I haven't known how to talk to him about it and this has really helped me. I don't even know most of the people what influence that may have had that we were all willing to come and talk like that. Kids that were in those classes, that are parents now, and their 72:00kids come out that that's something people connect with and remember. It's something I'm proud of having been a part of.

Goode: I'm also very proud of you... can you talk about Denim Day?

Brown: So yeah, Denim Day was a pretty significant event--well the whole week was significant really. It was Gay Awareness Week, it was not Gay Pride Week. We weren't there yet. [laughter] I think that the first step that anyone needs to take towards having any kind of equal rights is just for people to be aware that you even exist, and we were pretty much an invisible minority, at that point, particularly at Virginia Tech or other places similar. Outside of New York or 73:00San Francisco there wasn't a lot of visibility for LGBTQ folks. We didn't even have all of those letters then. Like I said, even the phrase gay pride, we weren't quite there yet it was just the making people aware that we even existed was that first step. So we planned this whole week, and kind of the centerpiece of the week was Denim Day. It was something that had been done in other places so it wasn't like our idea, but I don't know that it had been--I don't think it had--pretty sure it had never been done in the state of Virginia or anywhere within a huge radius. The whole idea was on Wednesday you should wear denim to 74:00show your support for gay rights, and the concept went over most people's heads, which was pretty interesting. It ended up that on Denim Day practically no one wore denim, and denim was pretty much the uniform for all college students. So, that was really the whole idea was to make people, something that would come so naturally to everyone, just slipping on a pair of jeans in the morning, that they had to stop and think twice about whether that was something that they wanted to do that day--to have this fear that people would think they supported 75:00gay rights if they just were themselves and dressed the way they always dressed. There's multiple levels there of what that's doing because first of all, why should anyone be afraid of showing support for gay rights? It doesn't necessarily mean you're gay expect that is what everyone would think.

[a cat hits Brown in the face with its tail] [laughter]

Goode: That's what people were thinking that if you support gay rights it could only be--

Brown: So, it was basically the whole point was to make people have to stop and think twice about doing something that was as natural to them as slipping on a pair of jeans in the morning and having that fear that if you did that thing that came perfectly natural to you that people would have a negative opinion of you. They would think that you were supporting gay rights. So, then there's that 76:00level too of just the whole idea of supporting gay rights is somehow a bad thing. That people would automatically think that you were gay, which was even worse, but these are all things that would be running through people's minds, and this is what caused most everybody at Virginia Tech to come dressed in khakis, and corduroys, anything but denim. People totally avoided denim, and people got really mad and people wrote tons of letters to the editor, and they were like, why did you pick this? You shoulda realized that this is what everyone wore. They were like, yeah that's kinda the point. [laughter]

[video ends]

[video begins]

Brown: Totally out at work, although like I said, I always was and I've asked 77:00myself this question, why is it that I always was so out. When you balance that out with being someone who doesn't crave the spotlight and doesn't like to call attention to myself really, and yet I always felt compelled to be very out. That was important and I think part of it relates to one of the things that I used to always say in the introduction when we would do those panel discussions. One of the things I always said was, I'm here because I don't want to be. That I don't want for this one aspect of my life to considered so abhorrent to so many people, and so weird and different, that it's something that they need somebody to come in and talk on a panel about this strange thing that nobody really 78:00understands. I think that society has changed over time where it is much less of an issue, and I've seen that in being always very out all through my life that now it's like nobody even gives it a second thought. I always was out at work, but now where I work, I march with my contingent of co-workers in the annual gay pride parade. In my [National] Park Service uniform, with my rainbow boa, and it is an amazing and wonderful thing.

Goode: In 2016, the first year that we had the [National] Park Service in the 79:00pride parade here in Seattle, and I was so happy because you were so happy. [laughter]

Brown: I was phenomenally happy! [laughter] Yeah.

Goode: Yeah. I think you said that you never thought that you would get to do that.

Brown: Yeah.[nods]

[video ends]

[reading from text]

Rinehart: January 16, 1979. Collegiate Times. To the editor.

Foster: Having read all the articles degrading the Gay Awareness Week in the letters to the editor section of the January twelfth issue of the Collegiate Times, I would like to humbly congratulate all the writers in an extremely effective display of their ignorance. Tony Pirrone, in your letter you seem to 80:00be quite worried about how you appear to other people. I'm pleased that you are wearing corduroys to show everyone where you stand on the view of gay rights. However, Mr. Pirrone I believe you missed the point in your question addressed to the gay community: Were you trying to get people to dress like they supported the gay cause? Were you that worried that you wouldn't get enough support? I feel that the purpose of the Gay Awareness Week is not to gather support but rather broaden the closed minds of individuals like yourself. The fact that denim was picked as a material to wear seems to deeply concern you. Perhaps drawing this concern was the intended purpose, after all, the fact that you took the time to sit down and write your letter proves that Gay Awareness Week touched at least one person. You, Mr. Pirrone, are a victim of your own ignorance. As for the writers of "Watch Out for Barefeet!," I'm elated to find four people who believe they are normal. According to their letter, one can 81:00infer normal people have the instinctive ability to condemn others who don't act as they would. God, I'm glad this world is not strictly comprised of normal people. Finally, for the writers of "Bring Your Toothbrush." In your letter, you state, The authors of Denim Day were afraid to be different and be seen with their beliefs, where, in actuality, it is you who are afraid of appearing as if you support any gay cause; or you would never advocate carrying a toothbrush to prevent, the social embarrassment of association with the gay community. I feel sorry for all of you! Mark Erickson, Finance. [audience cheers]

Rinehart: February 13, 1979. Collegiate Times. Note: the following letter was written by a member of the Virginia Tech Gay Student Alliance. If the author's name were revealed, it could threaten his job. The C.T. does not print unsigned 82:00letters, so I am submitting his letter under my name.

Silas: To the editor and the Virginia Tech community: Some of us are your parents, children, brothers and sisters, friends, teachers, employers and athletic heroes. We were burned at the stake by the thousands during the Middle Ages, we were the second largest minority exterminated at Buchenwald and Auschwitz although history books seldom mention us in those contexts. We are still the butt of jokes and the target of violence in America today. Many of us have contributed to the arts, sciences and all of the other areas of human ingenuity, but most of us are ordinary people living ordinary lives. We aren't sexual perverts or lost sinners. The professional psychological and psychiatric associations have stated that we aren't sick, and an increasing number of theologians are beginning to re-evaluate their positions on the basis of more accurate understandings of scripture and cultural history. We aren't any more promiscuous than anyone else. Some of us have had partners with whom we've 83:00shared our lives for thirty years or more. We aren't lonely because we have children, relatives and friends who love us and accept us for who we are. We don't often conform to your stereotypes of us, so you probably wouldn't recognize us if you saw us walking across the drillfield or shopping in Kroger's. Because we are people first, though we happen to be gay, and because human beings have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we feel justified in expecting the rights to which we are thus entitled. We aren't asking for anything that Americans don't take for granted. We simply want to live without fear for our dignity, our jobs, our lives. We want people to acknowledge that those who are different from the majority aren't acting immorally or illegally, only differently from the rest. A few of you wore denim on Wednesday to indicate your support of our struggle for human rights. On behalf of the gay community of Blacksburg and of Virginia, I thank my straight brothers and sisters for their help in our struggle. But many more of you had to search your wardrobes for something other than jeans. Most of you are straight, 84:00but some are gay or unsure of your sexual orientation. Some of you hate us irrationally; others are ignorant; still others are afraid of the remarks which might be directed at you. I understand you all, because I once felt as you do. I'm sorry if you felt oppressed. But my gay sisters and brothers and I feel oppressed every day by a straight society which forbids us to be ourselves. If someone you love and respect were to tell you that he or she is gay, would your attitude toward gay people and their rights change? Remember that one of every ten people you know is gay. And remember that as long as even one member of our society is oppressed, none of us is free. Sueann Brown, Architecture, Member: Gay Student Alliance.

[reading ends]

[video begins]

Steve Critchfield: We were okay. But the university at that point was not very friendly. I mean, we couldn't even meet on campus. When someone would call the gay hotline, you had to go into town with at least two people and meet in a public place because you didn't know if someone was going to beat you with a 85:00baseball bat. Nor did the person calling. They were worried that maybe we were gonna beat them with a baseball bat, so you had to meet in public places... so, it was an interesting time. I mean, I can remember going to the first gay rights march in D.C. All the chants. We went down Florida Avenue and yelled things. It was more of a festive thing than it was anything else.

Forte: What year was that?

Critchfield: I don't even remember... it had to be about the same time. [19]79, [19]78, maybe.

Forte: So, there's a bunch of stuff in there. The hotline.

Critchfield: Mm-hm.

Forte: The purpose of that is to make contact with the G.S.A., or what's the--

Critchfield: Yeah, basically it was to make contact. You figured out maybe you were gay or bi, and obviously there was no way to figure out who else was. So, 86:00the phone numbers were put up around campus and places like that. They were put up and torn down just about as fast. But, if you were coming to college for the first time and you know what your persuasion was, I mean, this was a way that you could basically call and meet up and meet people like yourself, gay and lesbian, at that point. I think as gay and lesbian has been more accepted, that the groups have splintered and become almost two separate groups. I mean, they still work together, but back in those days it was one group. But you'd call and come up. At that point, it was mostly a social thing, get together for drinks or parties--because back then, by the way, remember, you could drink at eighteen. But it was also a community. I can remember, occasionally, people would get 87:00kicked out when their parents would find out. So everybody would make sure they had places to stay so they didn't have to go home. Donations were collected because, back then I think it was two hundred seventy dollars a quarter for tuition, so you could actually raise the money to keep people in school. But that's largely what it was: it was a way to actually reach out.

Forte: Yeah. I understand the fear that motivates this kind of secrecy surrounding it, but were there actual instances of someone, say, posting a number as bait or calling the number for reasons of...

Critchfield: I never heard of anybody posting the number for bait and somebody getting hurt. I know it's happened at other places. I do know that we would get people to call and they would never meet us. But they would start off acting serious, and all of a sudden they would start calling funny names. Then, you 88:00just hang up on them. It's a shame we didn't have caller I.D. back there. That would have been fun. I personally never experienced any real animosity. But I will say, back then, you lived two lives. I was out to my family, I was out to certain friends, but I wasn't out at work, I wasn't out in all the classes that I took, I wasn't out to my professors, except for the ones that were gay. But, because it was just a different world back there. Like for example, on Denim Day, we talked about Denim Day. I remember when we sat around and were talking about that. I don't know if it was our idea, or whether we copied somebody else's idea. But I do remember the whole point--it wasn't really a debate, the discussion of the group when we did this--was people were saying, Well, it's 89:00going to make people uncomfortable. It's going to make them mad. And then other people in the group were saying, Well, that's the point. You want to make people inconvenienced. You want to make them feel uncomfortable, because as a gay or a lesbian, you feel that way. I think we did a really good job on that part of it. I don't think we did such a good job of getting out the word the day after why it was done. But then again, the newspapers, the Collegiate Times really didn't want to print stories about this or that, because again, there was still this animosity from the university towards the whole idea.

Forte: So, you wore denim on Denim Day.

Critchfield: I did. But I was in the College of Agriculture, and interestingly enough, a lot of the guys from Tazewell and Grundy and Giles County wore blue 90:00jeans that day, too, because they didn't have anything else to wear. They just walked around with their baseball hat on... So, yeah, I wore--I know a lot of gay friends, though, that day did not wear them. My boyfriend did, and he caught hell at the engineering school, people making fun of him all the time. Ha, ha. Of course, they thought they were making fun of him because it was like you forget to wear green on Saint Patrick's Day, or you do. They assumed he was straight, and they were just making fun.

[video ends]

[video begins]

Critchfield: I just don't think most people got it. They didn't understand what it was all about. What they remember was, is, jeans, support gay rights. I don't 91:00even think a lot of the people in agriculture, I don't even think they thought much about it at all. I don't think they were necessarily anti-gay rights. It was just something totally new. It was a whole new movement at that point in time. I just think it was more of a--and I'm sure you've experienced it with other things, but you poke funs at your friends. You make fun of them for... [laughter] things that are probably not the socially most acceptable, but you do. Back then, it was largely socially acceptable to... say, are you a fancy guy, to your buddies, even though you were ninety percent sure they weren't. You just called them out.

Forte: Right.

Critchfield: Again, I can remember the day that the Denim Day thing was, I had to go to the bank because I worked part-time at that bank. So, at 1:30 I had to 92:00leave class and go to the bank. There, I had to put a suit on. I didn't have a denim suit, and you had to wear a suit and stuff. But I can remember working the drive-in window and I'd see friends wearing khakis walking up and down University Boulevard. I had the P.A. mic, and I'd be like, Hey Randy, you're better dressed than I've ever seen you! It would burst out over the thing.

Forte: Which bank was this?

Critchfield: It's now B.B.&T. over here by the foundation office. So, you could see University Boulevard. I remember one friend of mine who I know was straight, because I've known his girlfriend, now his wife, and we're still friends. But he was walking up--I mean, he was just a total civil engineer, oblivious to 93:00everything. He probably didn't even know Denim Day was going on. I got the P.A. system and I'm like, Hey handsome. He's like, looking around. This is God. Should you have those jeans on today? Just doing stuff like that. And he's looking around and he's like, You! [laughter] So, even I, at that point in time, was poking fun at everything 'cause that's what you do.

Forte: So, is that something you did often with the P.A.?

Critchfield: Yeah. I had a good time. [laughter] I remember one time Arthur Squires and his boyfriend were walking from--I think it was the Holiday Inn back then. They were walking to Kroger's or something and I'd be like, Dr. Squires, you have a message from God. She's pissed. Just stuff like that. I had fun. My 94:00branch manager would get annoyed at me sometimes, but, oh well.

[video ends]

[reading from text]

Rinehart: January 16, 1979. Collegiate Times. To the editor.

Silas: I must say that I got a chuckle out of the announcement of Denim Day. I got even more of a chuckle out of the letters of outrage in Friday's C.T. Having been a student of movement and media campaigns over the past ten years, I think I can say with certainty that Jerry and Abbie would be proud. I'm not gay, but I'm a firm supporter of gay rights. I know too well what it's like to have other people think that they can control my life by their values. It's a serious issue. Nonetheless, a little humor lightens up any movement, and the very idea of a Denim Day certainly provides that humor. I can't speak for the G.S.A., but if they are taking this thing seriously they are missing the beauty of their whole idea. It is unfortunate that those people who wrote the letters feel so threatened that they miss the humor. It does my heart good to know that there 95:00are people around who are creative enough to come up with these beautiful ideas. There is nothing more healthy than to be confronted with something that makes us draw a sharp breath before we burst out laughing at ourselves and the silliness we've created around us. Carol Hall, Senior, H.N.F.

[reading ends]

[video begins]

Lisa Barroso: She was the one who outed me to Mark. She blew my cover.

Forte: How did that go? What's the story there?

L. Barroso: She was lookin' for a place to live, and I had just met up with some lesbians, and we were gonna rent a house. So, I felt for whatever reason the need to let her know, to be honest, that there were going to lesbians living there, and if that bothered her, I wanted her to know ahead of time. But please don't tell my brother! I'm not out! Yeah, well, that didn't work. So it was like at midnight, I think after one of his night shows, that I get this call. I was 96:00in Ambler Johnston-

Mark Barroso: Which is hilarious, because-

L. Barroso: Oh, yeah.

M. Barroso: My father- Ambler Johnston was-

L. Barroso: Sixth floor.

M. Barroso: Was girls only.

L. Barroso: Virgin vault, they called it.

M. Barroso: The virgin vault.

L. Barroso: The top two floors.

M. Barroso: My father-

L. Barroso: Yes.

M. Barroso: Put her in there specifically to keep her away from boys.

L. Barroso: [laughter]

M. Barroso: Right?

L. Barroso: The irony, right? The irony!

M. Barroso: Yeah. He was worried about them boys gittin a hold of you.

L. Barroso: Yes, yeah.

M. Barroso: So I put you in the virgin vault.

L. Barroso: Yes, exactly. [laughter] Which was perfect.

M. Barroso: Yeah. Perfect.

L. Barroso: Perfect. So yeah, so Mark wasn't too happy about it, pretty upset 97:00about it.

M. Barroso: Now, come on, be fair.

L. Barroso: Oh, because of, It's gonna kill our mother, you're going to kill our mother, this is gonna kill her! It's gonna kill her! How can you do this to your mother? Blah, blah.

M. Barroso: Blah, yeah. That's true. I didn't care. I didn't have an opinion about your sexuality.

L. Barroso: But you sure were- I mean, I was scared. I was scared.

M. Barroso: I was only concerned about our mother, that's all. Handling it.

L. Barroso: Right, right. No, but you scared me that night. It was like, damn. That was my first coming out experience, really, in terms of... [laughter]. Yeah, it was like, fuck. I don't know if I can handle this or not. That was-

M. Barroso: Yeah, I was being protective of Mom. But I never once tried to change your mind or-

L. Barroso: Right.

M. Barroso: Criticize you for-


L. Barroso: True.

M. Barroso: Being gay or whatever.

L. Barroso: True.

M. Barroso: Because it really was a kind of... the [19]70s were still the leftover [19]60s. It was kind of like, live and let live. And I believe that. Everybody should be happy... just don't mess with my mother.

Both: [laughter]

L. Barroso: Right, right. Yeah.

[video ends]

[video begins]

L. Barroso: It was interesting. Losing the family dynamic, losing that Christian family was quite a bit. Really, the only group that really stuck with me was the women I met at Women's Space. They were my community. So, they really did step up.

Forte: They originally engaged you as the sister of-


L. Barroso: Mark Barroso.

Forte: Mark Barroso.

L. Barroso: Yeah. [laughter] Yes.

Forte: So did that actually require any, like, getting over or was it just an observation?

L. Barroso: I think they thought it was just hilarious that Mark Barroso would have a lesbian sister, and I had heard stories of him and the activism, in the C.T.

M. Barroso: What stories?

L. Barroso: I guess stuff you must have written. I don't know. But that's what I remember, was that you had made it known. Kind of like, for Denim Day. Like, there were some of the guys wore skirts in protest, or they wore-

M. Barroso: Or in support.

L. Barroso: Wearing a skirt on Denim Day? Hell no. You're supposed to wear your denim. Don't think you- no. What. [laughter]


M. Barroso: I'm trying to rewrite history here.

L. Barroso: I see that.

M. Barroso: What! Work with me.

L. Barroso: No, not this one. [both laugh] I'll give you a lot, but not this one. Yeah, so I learned a lot about my brother, from them. So yeah.

Forte: So Mark, what did you write? You were at [Virginia] Tech for Denim Day. Lisa came just after, in the fall after.

L. Barroso: Just after.

Forte: But it was still a thing people were talking about in the women's collective, the G.S.A., the campus. So how did you get that reputation that Lisa encountered?

M. Barroso: Well, Tim Chase actually wrote--there was a pro and con editorial on Denim Day, which I want to emphasize. It was not pro or con gay rights, it was about the validity of the protest or the action. The action. I may have written 101:00something. I was just churning out copy, so I don't know specifically what I wrote. Over the years, though, there was... it was a time--it was a lot of... we all wanted to be Hunter S. Thompson rolled into John Belushi rolled into Carl Bernstein. So, it was a real schizophrenic persona I had.

L. Barroso: Yeah.

M. Barroso: I might be writing an investigative piece one week, and the next week I'm writing some off-color humor. That's probably--the off-color humor is probably what got me in trouble.

L. Barroso: Probably.

M. Barroso: With your friends.

L. Barroso: I can see that.

M. Barroso: Yeah.

L. Barroso: I can see you doing that.

M. Barroso: But, I know in our editorial meetings--so we would all discuss the 102:00position the paper was going to take, and it was a split. I agreed with Tim. I thought Denim Day was a dumb idea because to me it was like saying, If you support gay rights, wear shoes. Why don't you do something--pink shirt or something that identified you as a supporter of gay rights. So it was more of a technical objection I had-

L. Barroso: Of picking denim jeans.

M. Barroso: Yeah.

L. Barroso: That's your normal-

M. Barroso: Yeah. God damn it, that's mine. You can't take my clothes. [laughter]

L. Barroso: Oh, I get it now. I get it now. All right. Like the pink ribbon for breast cancer kind of thing.

M. Barroso: Yeah.

L. Barroso: Don't link those two together.

M. Barroso: I didn't get it, that the point was to start a dialogue, and I think that's--if I'm understanding correctly--the point was to start a discussion 103:00between supporters and maybe non-supporters, just to get people talking about these invisible people among us.

L. Barroso: True.

M. Barroso: Right?

L. Barroso: Right.

M. Barroso: Which is a good thing. I didn't understand that at the time. But that was the point. I thought the point was to make a show. So, I was wrong. But Sherry Wood, who was the editor, wrote the pro-Denim Day editorial, and I think she's going to be here.

Forte: I think so.

M. Barroso: I think you all are going to interview her on Skype or something.

Forte: I think I saw that request.

M. Barroso: She was ahead of her time.

L. Barroso: Mm-hm, except for not keeping my request. Just saying.


Forte: Okay, got it, connecting the dots.

L. Barroso: Just saying. Just saying.

M. Barroso: Let her know. So anyway, that was my take on Denim Day. Does that make sense?

Forte: Yeah, so, was it Sherry's argument that helped to evolve your understanding of what they were attempting to do, or is it something you came upon later, after the fact?

M. Barroso: Well, I'm a slow learner. You have to plant an idea in my head, and it has to be fertilized and watered before it spreads. So I think Denim Day and Sherry's article made me begin thinking about it more. Of course, having a gay sister kind of made me think about it more.

L. Barroso: Now, I think I understand why she told you, because she knew how your opposition, and from your perspective- so she probably did out me just 105:00because it would help you, maybe. You know what I'm saying?

M. Barroso: Oh.

L. Barroso: Right?

M. Barroso: Okay.

L. Barroso: Like, Hey Mark! You're such a jerk about queers. Guess what? Your sister's queer, Mark Barroso!

M. Barroso: I was not a jerk about queers. I was really a live and let live guy. I just didn't understand gay-

L. Barroso: No, but you have a way of speaking with gruff... [growls]

M. Barroso: [growls]

L. Barroso: [growls] Yeah.

M. Barroso: What am I, Mr. McGruff or something?

L. Barroso: Maybe.

[video ends]

Rinehart: Oh, my goodness. And this would be that counterpoint to Sherry Wood's op-ed written by Tim Chase, A.K.A. possibly also Mark Barroso, we're not sure.

[reading from text]

Foster: Tomorrow, much to the chagrin of many students, the Gay Student Alliance 106:00will sponsor Denim Day. Judging from the flood of mail we have received in opposition to this day, we must conclude that a great number of students find the whole concept very disturbing. They should. Not that some kind of gay awareness day is so bad. No doubt few people would have cared if gay supporters were supposed to wear red bandanas or straw hats. The disconcerting aspect of the whole incident is the choice of denim as the medium of recognition. On an average day, according to James Dean, vice president for student affairs here at [Virginia] Tech, some seven thousand students are wearing denim. Why not say, everyone who supports gays wear a shirt? The net result would be the same. Actually, there may be more support for gay rights than most people believe. A recent poll by the [New York] Post indicated that nearly fifty percent of the population of New York would support gay rights legislation, Time, July 1978. The issue of gay rights is not the question. It would be difficult to justify legalized discrimination against gays. While one might not be willing to ask for 107:00legalized discrimination against gays, he could draw the line when this group attempts to impose its ideals on the general public. Rev. Ron Ballard of Emporia, Kansas, may have put it best when he said, we are not advocating any new laws to persecute them, gays. If their sexual preference is kept to themself, that's within the range of what we can accept, Time, May 1978. This is the major point. If the G.S.A. had kept to itself, rather than drawing attention to itself in the manner that it has, this whole issue would never have come up. Instead, students are now forced to make a decision concerning their stand on gays before Wednesday. This type of publicity may not be particularly beneficial to the G.S.A. The G.S.A.'s stand on sexual behavior may be fine for them, but they should refrain from forcing the issue on other people. Tim Chase.

[reading ends]

[video begins]

Helene Vachon: [sighs] I'm so calling the gay student alliance, I'm ready for 108:00this 'cause I was not out to anyone. So, I call the gay student alliance, and Leroy answers and I'm like, Leroy is that you? He goes, Helene is that you? Come on down. So downstairs I went. There was Leroy and Owen, and he said, Let me call Nancy Kelly. She was assistant president of the G.S.A. We got another one. Let me call Nancy Kelly. I'm thinking, Oh my God, I never met a lesbian before. I wonder what she looks like? All of this internalized homophobia we're raised with at that time, and she walks through the door and I'm like, She doesn't look gay or odd. I don't know what I was expecting, Medusa with snakes coming out of her head. I realized my own internalized homophobia, this is crazy. All of a sudden, I had like fifteen, twenty friends. My roommates were wondering where 109:00did you get all of these friends all of a sudden? [laughter] Hush, hush. One of them was gay, also. She knew I was gay. I found my tribe. Oh, my goodness, I had found my tribe. I'd found people who spoke my language and I found--we called ourselves chosen family way back then. I was high for months. I had finally found people that were like me, that I could relate to. It was a social thing at that time, more of a social thing.

Forte: I'm sorry, say what year was that?

Vachon: That was 1978. I came here in 1978, [19]79, [19]80, [19]81. I took my time.

Forte: Finishing, you mean?

Vachon: Hm?

Forte: Took your time finishing?


Vachon: I took my time finishing because I was a work study student. I worked on one of the experimental farms here at Virginia Tech. I was an animal science major, of course, and I was interested in all kinds of different things. I wanted to take my time. I was part of the Block and Bridle- [clears throat] Block and Bridle Club, excuse me. I loved the animal science side of things, and I threw myself into the whole meat science. I had a hard time with it, slaughtering animals. I became vegetarian. Anyway, Nancy took me under her wing. She was an instigator and she inspired you to... She raised you. She used the 111:00term consciousness raising. It was the first time I ever heard the term, consciousness raising. We've got to raise your conscious. I was like, okay. One day she calls me up she goes, I need for you to be on this panel of gay and lesbians. It's not in the animal science quad. 'Cause the thought of coming out in the animal science quad just freaked me out. It was across the quad, and it was a Deviants in Society class. She goes, I want you to be part of a panel of deviants in society. I said, What's a deviant? She goes, You're a deviant, and you're coming. So, I said, I really don't like that word, deviant. I just finally embraced the word lesbian, and I do not like deviant. What the heck? They're calling us deviants now? Ya know? What is going on? She goes, I need you to be on this panel, and it's going to be five of us. Come on, do it. I said, Okay. She says, Nobody in animal science is going to be there. This is a 112:00different college. This is more like sociology and psychology. I had a sense of somebody's got to do it, somebody's got to show their face, we got to start coming out to some people because we are not these monsters. We're not, ya know, crazy. Got on that panel and I look over and people start talking, asking you questions, and it dawned on me that Nancy Kelly, she got me out here 'cause I'm the only virgin on this panel. She was smart. She had everybody represented. There was the bisexuals and all of this different diversity, and I was the virgin. So, it was kind of--you would engage with these students, and it was kind of funny 'cause you'd get some funny little questions and of course, they would come to me and they were like, Well, how do you know--how can you be sure you're gay? You're a virgin, you've never even slept with anybody. So, at that 113:00time in 1978-[19]79 there was a lot of virgins on campus. [laughter] So then I said, Well is there any virgins here in this class? My goodness, how do you know you're straight? And you'd come back with those kinds of things. By the end of the class, you were like--you had become buddies with 'em or friends with 'em, and they liked you. Some of them were angry about it. But you were able to calm people down and make them think. You could tell you had some light bulbs would go out. Some light bulbs would go off. I did about three of those classes, and that was good for me.

Forte: So mostly those were positive experiences?

Vachon: Positive experiences, but I felt like I could not do it in the animal science. I was like walking two different worlds. I was totally in the closet when it came to animal science, in my animal science fraternity. I was on the meat and animal judging team, meat judging teams, and I loved being there. But I 114:00was totally- I walked within two different worlds. As gay people at the time you really had to do. You had to put your mask on.

Forte: But you felt like those panels were- through your participation in those panels you were making some kind of a difference in folks' perception?

Vachon: Yes, It was the first-time people stood up and said, I'm gay. I knew, I would wish we'd wake up one day and the whole- everybody that was gay had different colored hair or a dot on their head. That would identify them, who they were, and people would just have to get over it. Because there was so many of us and we were all amongst everybody. So, somebody had to start putting a 115:00face on it.

Forte: Yeah.

[video ends]

[reading from text]

Rinehart: January 19, 1979. To the editor.

Foster: I am sitting here in the middle of my eleven o'clock class this fine Wednesday--Gay Day--writing this letter, because the intense scrutiny--and attendant loathing--I'm receiving makes it infeasible for me to consider anything but getting this letter written. Whew. Look, I'm going to the garage after this class. Do you want me to get oil or grease or something on my good pants? No? Me neither, so I'm wearing jeans. So what! Screw you all. Anybody wearing non-jeans today on purpose is obviously insecure about his or her own sexuality. Kevin F. Sebring.

Rinehart: Same day. Collegiate Times. To the editor.

Silas: I wish I had worn jeans today. Looking around me at the rows of 116:00corduroyed and skirted legs I feel a growing embarrassment. How hard we try to show how straight we are. The individual has left each one of us, denimless at that. Did you walk around on campus today gawking at the jeans? Did you women who will graduate to higher salaries and greater opportunities know that behind those jeans is one of the major forces behind your rights? I don't know about you, but I was embarrassed, embarrassed to be part of any movement--and there is a movement behind our cords--against freedom, any kind of freedom. I wish I had worn jeans and a jean jacket and jean shoes. Diane Dalton.

[reading ends]

[video begins]

Forte: Did you meet any form of persecution here in Blacksburg?

Steve Noll: I don't think it was any different than I would've encountered anywhere else in America, except for maybe gay havens like San Francisco, or Fire Island, or whatever, ya know, Key West. I didn't feel particularly put-upon 117:00being here. I've never felt comfortable anywhere [laughter] to the degree where I could completely let down my guard and always feel safe. It's just something that gay people don't get to experience, I think. At least, people my age are just aware of the possibilities of what could happen if you're too open. As nice as it is [laughter], as good as it's gotten, I always have that lingering lurking suspicion, I guess. I think I'll always have it. I'm not constantly nervous and feeling in danger, but I'm just aware. And there were episodes and events here in Blacksburg that fed that, but they could have happened anywhere. Harassment- just personal harassment, violence against people I knew and things 118:00like that.

F: Did you experience violence?

N: Myself?

F: Yeah.

N: No. No. But I had friends who were killed, murdered, beaten here in Blacksburg, and that was enough.

[video ends]

[video begins]

Forte: What was the nature of your involvement with them?

Noll: Well, the meetings of course. That's how I got to know everybody, they had a regular weekly meeting, or something like that. Maybe every other week. My involvement immediately really started to focus around public speaking. Nancy and I. The first time I did it, I did it with Nancy. We spoke to some humanities class. Anthropology, which I don't think they offer anymore. They were looking 119:00for volunteers. Some professors and instructors were asking for people to come and be available to talk to classes, answer questions, not really give a presentation but just be available. And I said, well, I'll do that. That sounds interesting. And it was. The first one was pretty horrible. The professor was hostile--really hostile--and pretty much encouraged some of the guys in the class to just attack us verbally and make it difficult to carry on the presentation. And, I have a friend today who was in that class, who I did not know at the time. We've had a friendship now for over forty years, and it was all based on that one experience of him being embarrassed at what was going on, ya know, of the situation for us when we were in that class. But Nancy took care of it by bringing up an incident that she had been involved with before she came 120:00out of the closet. She'd had a roommate who was in a class that was also inviting gay people to come and speak, and Nancy pointed out that, when she went, she was the one making these nasty remarks to the guests.

F: She told us that story.

N: The best defense is a good offence. And that shut them up. But it also, ya know, was an educational experience for me, too. Ya know, don't take the bait, don't give it back. And that worked pretty well after that. We did it dozens... I did over a hundred of them, I'm sure, of these presentations over several years. And not just here, but in Roanoke College, Hollins [University], Ferrum [College], Radford [University], for eight or nine years like that. That was great. I loved that.

F: Going around to different colleges?

N: Yeah, it was fantastic.

F: Why?


N: Very effective. I mean, people would just come up after the class, sometimes in a state of shock, ya know, that they couldn't believe they'd been so stupid. [laughter] Just so unaware and it was a revelation. I mean, there were some really emotional encounters sometimes with people like that.

F: Is it that they were unaware of the existence of gay people?

N: They had never encountered gay people. They had only encountered the popular conception, which was really negative. Extremely negative. People have no idea now what it was like. I mean, the subject wasn't even discussed when I was growing up. There were no homosexual people 'cept for, basically, maybe Liberace. And that was it. That was it. And, ya know, the popular image was 122:00limited to a few caricatures. And there was no ongoing open discussion about gay people that involved gay people. I think it was a shock to a lot of people to find out that gay people were human beings. I mean, I'll tell ya, there was one incident we had. In those days, Squires Student Center had an overhanging roof out the front toward College Avenue that was under the--I mean, there was space up above it and everything, it's changed so much--But anyway, every year they would have a student organizations fair under there, tables from all the student organizations on campus. And then you'd come and look at them, pick up their literature, and see if you were interested in joining any of these groups. And we were, for the first time--I believe it was in [19]80 probably or maybe the Fall of [19]79--we had a table. And I think it was Nancy and I, and I'm not sure 123:00who else, but we did it for a couple of days. Might've been Sueann Brown. Our job was just to sit there and hand out literature to people who were interested. And you have no idea what that was like. It was as if two little aliens had come down and, ya know, sat down in their chairs there underneath the roof. Like, what the hell is this? I mean, people were looking at us like we were not from this Earth. It was amazing.

F: Not thinking you were serious? Couldn't believe you would step out there?

N: Not thinking we were human. Not thinking we were human beings. They were looking at us like, what is this? How can this be in public? How can there be people here talking about this or exposing it to my eyes? They said, how can this be? It was a shock for them. And, interestingly, we were placed--and we don't know who did this--but we were placed between the Baptist Student Union and the Campus Crusade for Christ. In between was the Gay Student Alliance. And 124:00they couldn't even look at us. It was as if there was a wall between us. At that time, there was a lady who many old Blacksburg-ers knew and loved, Emily Stewart. She was the founder of--I don't know if she was the founder, but she was the major force behind the Y.M.C.A. on campus for many, many years. I had met her on a Y-hike in 1971, when I first came here. She and her husband lead the hike. Bob Stewart. He just recently died--100 years old. But I had met Emily, and we were acquaintances, ya know, becoming friends over the years, but she didn't know I was gay. And she happened to be walking into Squires that afternoon while we were sitting there at the table. And she looks at me, looks 125:00at the table, and just, wow! I didn't know that. And then she saw--we were chatting--she saw the situation, the people on either side of us totally ignoring our existence. And she went up to each of them and introduced them to me. [laughter] Just to be an agitator for good. But I guess what I remember about that most was just the shock that people experienced when they saw actual living, breathing homosexual people in public being normal. It was an absolute shock. I mean, I can't even--when I think about it, I can't even believe that it was like that at any time.

[video ends]

[video begins]

Noll: It wasn't born of malice. It was born of ignorance. And I think I'm just kinder to people who are ignorant than I am to people who are malicious. Yeah, so.


Forte: So, is that, then... That's the context, then? You're doing some outreach, feel like you're making some positive accomplishments and also taking this tack of forgiveness. And addressing ignorance in a constructive manner. Is that the context within which you participated in and how much did you participate in the planning of the Denim Day?

N: I guess as much as anybody in terms of us trying to come up with something. Everybody contributed their thoughts and ideas. I can't remember that I had any particular specific suggestion to make or anything, or if I went along with what I thought were some really good ideas. It intrigued me. Ya know, I definitely 127:00wanted to do something. But I think Nancy and some of the others, who were in there before me, ya know, who had brought this group together earlier, not long before I joined it, but originally, they were the real dynamos in the Denim Day and Gay Awareness Week. I mean, Nancy and several people. I don't know how many of them, some of them aren't still alive, but I don't know who will be here that you'll meet, but there's quite a few people. I wasn't on campus, I wasn't really a student, but I was as much as anybody, I guess, as part of it.

F: Did you have expectations as to how it would go?

N: I think it went exactly as I expected it would go. [laughter] Outrage, stupidity. More ignorance. Reaction, which was really what we were after. We 128:00were after a reaction. We were after getting people to think about it, ya know, for the first time in their lives. And maybe actually be able to think about it in the context of real human beings, that they would meet in the course of this exposition, this week of exposing ourselves to the community. Like, whether you like it or not, we're here. And you can actually look at us, and hear us, and talk to us, if you want to. And, ya know, I didn't expect a wholesale change of heart, and we certainly didn't get that. There were certainly a lot of people motivated to come out and support us. And that's a seed. And you plant a seed like that, and I think it had a tremendous effect on campus and in the town. In 129:00the town, the kids at the high school did a Denim Day at the same time. In Blacksburg High School, yeah. But of course, it was completely negative. [laughter] But it brought the subject up in a context it would never have been presented. Homosexuality and talking to high school students about it? Unheard of. And we didn't have to do a thing. They did it themselves because we were in the papers, we were on TV, and when people became aware of the activity that was gonna be going on that week, it spread to the high school--the local community.

[video ends]

[video begins]

Noll: Well, I see them now as being much more consequential than I thought they were at the time. I could see some immediate consequences at the time, with 130:00people actually coming up to me and verbalizing how their minds were changed, and their hearts were changed. It kinda sneaks up on you. Before I knew it, the whole society had changed. So, I realized it was those little things that people did that really add up. You don't have to be Martin Luther King. You can be Rosa Parks and just not get up, or do one little act of defiance or compassion for people's ignorance. You don't have to change the world, you just have to push it in that direction a little bit.

[video ends]

Rinehart: So, I know we're in violation of time. This is a year later, and then we're gonna have a little bit of closing couple of minutes of Nancy Kelly. So 131:00this is

[reading from text] April 29, 1980. The Collegiate Times.

Foster: The Gay Student Alliance was denied permission Thursday to sponsor Denim Day as part of its Gay Awareness Week to be held May fifth through the ninth by the Commission on Student Affairs. The action came after James Dean, chairman of the Commission and vice-president for student affairs, told the Commission that he would fight the Alliance's efforts to sponsor the Denim Day. When Denim Day was held last year, students who support gay rights were encouraged to wear denim. As a result, many [Virginia] Tech students wore corduroys instead of traditional jeans. I received twenty-five thousand pieces of mail opposing Denim Day last year and it took me five or six weeks to answer all of it, he said. I will not go through that again even if it costs me my job. Dean does not have a vote on the Commission. Some members of the Commission said they felt that Denim Day inconvenienced too many students and restricted their right to wear jeans. I 132:00wonder if any organization has the right to restrict the normal attire of so many people, said D.K. Brockett, class of [19]81 president. G.S.A. representative Scott Beadle said that the organization's purpose was not to antagonize people but to make them aware of the problems gay people encounter. Doug Waters, editor of the Collegiate Times, said, Whether or not your purpose was to antagonize, you did antagonize and generated the largest volume of mail written to the C.T. on any issue.

Silas: The Alliance will sponsor instead a Gay Prayer Day in which gays are encouraged to say a prayer for their oppressors. The Alliance also will sponsor a radio show on WUVT which will discuss the problems of lesbians, a Not Your Typical Blanket Night, which will be a series of educational films on gays, a panel discussion and Tell a Friend Day when gay people are encouraged to tell a friend about their lifestyle. The Not Your Typical Blanket Night was originally to be called Not Your Average Blanket Night but was changed after a protest by 133:00Virginia Tech Union's president Eddie Stowe who thought the title was too similar to the V.T.U.'s Not Your Average Lecture Series. In other Commission action, Sigma Chi fraternity requested permission to advertise for and sponsor Derby Day on May seventeenth. The Commission granted permission with the stipulation that the fraternity charge at least twenty-five cents for each beer served in order to control the amount of alcohol consumed at the event. [audience laughter] The Commission also requested more information on the security arrangements that the fraternity would have to set up for the event, which is held to raise money for the fraternity's philanthropies.

[reading ends]

Rinehart: Final words.

[video begins]

Kelly: The reason I came back was--there was several things--but one, I work with students. College students or graduate students primarily. Identity is very important. I started sharing some of my story with a few of them, and they were 134:00like, Really?, that it was like, Yeah, it wasn't always okay to be gay. Now it's a little trendy, but, you know, now it really wasn't, so I told them my story a little bit, and that inspired me, but honestly the biggest inspiration that I have is our current political climate where I see so many of our laws and rights are being challenged, are being rolled back or just chipped away a little bit, and those are things that have been long in coming way before me, and have been very hard fought, and I think it's so important that current students get that these- people don't give you rights because they should. Sometimes you have to stand up. It's unpopular. It's, you know, there's all sorts of reasons to not stand up for yourself, but we're talking basic human rights, and my hope is to 135:00inspire current students to understand that these things happen very incrementally, and when they start rolling back they roll back incrementally, and there's an ebb and a flow sometimes. You can't stop living your life because the laws aren't [laughter] to your liking, and that's for us it's perfectly clear. We just did what we did, and we navigate laws, and we do things, but I think it is so important that people understand that you must pay things forward. You do things for yourself, but you must do them for the next generation, so that is sort of the reason that I felt it important. You know, for me, I'm sixty years old. Whether or not trans are in the military, it 136:00doesn't matter to me personally. I mean, it matters to me emotionally, but it's not my job, but I do think it is so important for all of us to stand up for each other.

[video ends]

[video begins]

Kelly: We still don't have a lot of basic human rights. It's still not done, and it's never done. It's always about being more inclusive. Talking about people of color, talking about trans, talking about different gender identities. Those are our concepts that in the 1970s like- it wasn't even part of a conversation. I understand it intuitively, but I think that when we can sort of deal with the underpinnings of racism and homophobia and sexism- those are the things that keep us restrained, so I think it's really, I mean, I was just talking about, 137:00obviously being a lesbian, but there's many, many more things to it, and when some of us are repressed, all of us are repressed, and maybe that's activism, but that's just my life. That's just how I feel. I am certainly much more political. I have made way more protest posters since 2016 than I thought ever did as a younger- Things have rolled back, and that's okay. Things do--it's not okay--but we just have to not give up. It's very important.

Forte: So then despite things like 2016 do you remain or are you hopeful, is there a progressive arc that you observe?

K: Yes. Yes. And it is because we have basic rights, but we also have allies. 138:00That is the single biggest difference in many ways because people get it. It's just human rights. It's like why would, why can't you love who you want to love? Why can't you be who you want to be? That's a basic human right, and now it's just more understood, and that won't roll back. There may be laws that will roll back, but that basic human understanding I don't believe will roll back.

[video ends]

[credits roll]

[audience applauds]

Rinehart: Many of the extraordinary people that you just saw on the screen are 139:00in this room with us, and I just wanna say thank you to all of you for what you contributed to that. And, I- it is frigidly cold in here, I violated the time constraints radically, so, whatever happens next is up to us collectively. It might be that we don't stay in this refrigerator. But I imagine that there are conversations that you all would like to have, so, maybe going out into the light and somewhat warmer spot. But, I just have to say, I am so deeply proud to be part of this community that you all helped to build here. So, thank you.


[end of recording]