Written by on August 12, 2019

Records of the Cal Poly Pride Center: New collection available for research

Special Collections and Archives recently received organizational records of the Cal Poly Pride Center and the collection is available for research! 

The Records of the Cal Poly Pride Center (UA0081) includes six boxes of records dating from the 1970s – 2010s, created and collected by the staff and students of the Cal Poly Pride Center and transferred to the University Archives in 2018. The collection has been proccessed by the archives staff and is now available for research.

About the Gay Student Union

The year 1972 marks the first documented effort by Cal Poly students to develop a officially-recognized LGBT organizational presence on campus. Students began the process of applying for the Gay Student Union (GSU) in 1972, but faced resistance from campus administration and other campus constituents as well as from the public. The GSU spent five years fighting a court battle that ultimately involved the California State Attorney General. The GSU was granted official recognition as a student organization by the University and by the Associated Students, Inc. in 1976.

A charter for the Gay Students Union from 1976-77 with two gold seals with colored ribbons and signatures of the Dean of Students, ASI President, and Cal Poly President. There is a gold sticker that says "1 years active service" and a logo in the upper lefthand corner of the charter that says "Cal Poly anniversary 75"

The ASI charter for the Gay Student Union for the school year 1976-77. The students of the GSU had to fight for several years to become an ASI club. (UA0081 Records of the Pride Center, Box 1 Folder 8, digital id: 0081_ua_000003, link to image: https://digital.lib.calpoly.edu/rekl-98254, University Archives, Cal Poly)

The Gay Student Union was a membership organization developed to provide a forum for the study of “homosexuality on campus and community level.” The organization provided a forum for discussion and intellectual development for the gay community and the campus as a whole. Despite initial resistance to the organization, many community members and organizations on and off campus were in support of the GSU including local churches and CSU students, professors, and staff.

Scope of the Pride Center collection

The Pride Center collection dates from 1972-2018 and includes documents related to the development and activities of the Gay Student Union; the Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Union; and the present-day Pride Center. Formats of materials in the collection includes bylaws, minutes, surveys, event announcements, and correspondence. There are also records documenting the opposition to the formation of the GSU from campus administration and ASI (Associated Students, Inc.) and documentation of authorization of the GSU, scrapbooks, and a letter of support from President Bill Clinton.

Pink flyer for the Gays Lesbians and Bisexuals United club at Cal Poly. In the upper righthand corner there is the logo of the GLBU.

Fliers such as this one, from the 1992-93 time period, provide information about club activities (as well as changes to the club’s name) through the years (UA0081 Records of the Pride Center, Box 1, Folder 8, digital id: 0081_ua_000007, link to image: https://digital.lib.calpoly.edu/rekl-98258, University Archives, Cal Poly).

The collection includes documentation of GSU members work to oppose legislation denying rights on the basis of sexual orientation, records documenting their activism on campus, and campus flyers for events such as National Coming Out Day, human rights, and LGBTQIA and gay rights activism.

February 1981 calendar for the Gay Student Union with handwritten notes describing activities occurring each day of the month.

The Pride Center collection includes items like this February 1981 calendar for the Gay Student Union, which shows the activities of the organization at a day-to-day view. (UA0081 Records of the Pride Center, Box 1, Folder 8, digital id: 0081_ua_000004, link to image: digital.lib.calpoly.edu/rekl-98255, University Archives, Cal Poly)

Learn more about the collection at the collection guide: https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/c8tb1dcp/

See items digitized from the collection here: https://digital.lib.calpoly.edu/rekl-ua0081

Related collections include:

Contact Special Collections and Archives in Room 409 of the Kennedy Library to schedule an appointment to research with the collection or ask any questions: ude.yloplacnull@sevihcra or 805-756-2305.

Read more on LGBTQIA, pride, and special collections and archives.

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