Historical Context

A photograph of thirteen pride-related pins, undated.




LGBTQ+ History at Union College is not an easy thing to trace - but is it any more difficult than tracing LGBTQ+ history anywhere else? LGBTQ+ identities in general have been shrouded in secrecy and anonymity for a long time as a result of both legal and cultural norms. There are depths and dimensions of queer history that have been buried or lost to time no matter where you go. There are thought to have been a myriad of gay rights focused groups in the US as early as the turn of the twentieth century, but their work was secret and underground, their stories buried. It was decades later, by the start of the 1960s, that queer activists and organizations would gain any semblance of visibility and occupy any shred of space in public memory [1].


This reality of national queer erasure leads us to the key questions of this exhibition: is the small liberal arts college in upstate New York any different? How does Union College's queer history fit, or not fit, into broader national and international trends and events? 

[1] Norton, Rictor, 2005, "The Suppression of Lesbian and Gay History."

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