The early 1970s were exciting years in Lawrence and around America. Countless individuals and groups came together to work for peace, human rights, and other causes.
Formed at the University of Kansas in 1970, the Lawrence Gay Liberation Front was part of a nationwide gay pride movement. Like the organization itself (now called Spectrum KU), the movement lives on in Lawrence, and a host of events this month will celebrate 51 years of local LGBTQ+ pride.
From Oct. 18-22, during LGBTQ History Month, 17 campus and Lawrence-based groups will come together for a series titled 51 Years OUT! Kathy Rose-Mockry, director emerita of the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity, is the guiding force behind the celebration. Dr. Rose-Mockry has worked diligently to plan the weeklong series, contact founding members of the Lawrence Gay Liberation Front, and invite them to the festivities.
Standout events, all taking place on the KU campus, will include “Kansas Farm Boy Comes Out at KU,” a talk by author-activist David Stout on his personal experiences more than 50 years ago, and several other lectures and panel discussions.
Rounding out the week’s events will be a Red Hot Research program on Queer Visibility as well as a carillon musical and a dance titled “STILL Too Hot to Trot!” The latter event will take place in the Kansas Union Ballroom and evoke the popular dances that the LGBTQ+ community held in the early 1970s.
In addition to these scheduled events, organizers invite members of the KU LGBTQ+ community to record their stories for 51 Years OUT LOUD, a project inspired by StoryCorps. On Wednesday, Oct. 20, the Watkins Museum of History, one of the series partners, will officially debut a new exhibit, Not a Straight Path: The Fight for Queer Rights in Lawrence, which will be on view through March 2022.
All events are free and open to everyone; organizers ask that those interested register in advance. To get the full 51 Years OUT! schedule and sign up for events, visit watkinsmuseum.org/51-out.