The 1960's

Nothing Out in the Redwoods?
The 1960s

In 1965, four years before Stonewall, and ten years before the founding of GALA, UCSC's first official gay and lesbian organization, gays and lesbians were not out at UCSC. Unlike earlier eras, homosexuality was taboo in the middle of the twentieth century. Small but courageous homophile organizations like the Mattachine Society, One, and Daughters of Bilitis fought for civil rights, but homophobia and intolerance remained pernicious in the 1960s. Homosexuality was pathologized, classified by the American Psychiatric Association as a psychiatric disorder, a definition that was not removed until 1973. Faculty, living in fear of losing their jobs, remained in the closet. As two of our interviewees have recalled, the climate at UCSC was not helped by the fact that two prominent campus leaders, Cowell Provost Page Smith and Founding Chancellor Dean McHenry, publicly expressed anti-gay sentiments.

The late-1960s witnessed the beginnings of the gay liberation movement, including landmark events such as the founding of the earliest documented gay student organization, the Student Homophile League at Columbia University; the publication of the Advocate magazine; and of course, the transformative Stonewall Riots in New York City on June 27, 1969. But these developments seemed far away from UCSC, which was far more affected by the student peace movement that, for example, disrupted the UCSC commencement in 1969 with a demonstration against the Vietnam War.

The voices represented in this section are white and male. This is a reflection of the lack of racial diversity and gender equality among the (very small) early UCSC faculty and student body, and the fact that this period pre-dates the lesbian feminist movement.