Main article on the Columbia, Mo Pride Celebration
    Brochure/Program for Columbia, Mo Pride Celebration (Side 1)
    Brochure/Program for Columbia, Mo Pride Celebration (Side 2)
    Moon, Galen, "Celebration Through a Man's Eye"
    Robinson, Sue, "Celebration Through a Woman's Eye"
    Pictures of UM Columbia Pride 78 from Gaylife.
    Pictures of UM Columbia Pride 78 from Gaylife.
    Main article on National Gay Blue Jeans Day
    NGTF Action Report, 12/77, p. 1
    NGTF Action Report, 12/77, p.3—National Gay Blue Jeans Day
    Instructor Pushes Gay Awarenes, Alestle article.
    Pro gay rights article of the era
    National Gay Blue Jeans Day in the Sticks

Jim Andris, Facebook

Main Article on National Gay Blue Jeans Day

The National Gay Task Force (later renamed The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force) had a major influence on the gay politics of the 1970s. NGTF was formed in 1973 by Howard Brown, Bruce Voeller, Robert Carter and Frank Kameny, and quickly put forth a major progressive platform for lesbian and gay right. One of the first initiatives of Bruce Voeller, who became the first NGTF director, was to lobby for a federal civil rights bill protecting from discrimination against "sexual or affectional preference." The next year, U. S. Rep. Bella Absug introduced the Equality Act of 1974, the first Federal gay rights bill. NGTF soon changed its name to The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and adopted a policy of gender parity in its offices. Jean O'Leary became co-director with Voeller. By the mid-seventies, though, gays were weary of activism, and the organization had a difficult time raising operating funds.

As fortune would have it, Jean O'Leary became a valued advisor for Midge Costanza—a politician who worked for President Carter's election—after Carter appointed Midge as his Assistant for Public Liason. Early in the Carter administration, Costanza worked with Bruce Voeller to select seven gay men and seven lesbians to gather for an advisory meeting at the White House on March 26, 1977. Carter was not present at this "first" meeting, and controversy arose about it. Nevertheless, a dialog had been started, and the NGLTF had had a major role in its development. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force continued to develop many good programs, including the We Are Your Children response to the Save Our Children hate campaign of 1977-78.

As a gay activist during the decade of the 1970s, especially at my institution, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, I, Jim Andris, became a charter member of NGTF in 1974 and read its newsletters religiously. At some point, NGTF began publishing an "action newsletter" in addition to its regular newsletter. It was in the December, 1977 NGTF Action Report that I read about plans for a National Gay Blue Jeans Day. On that day, gays and lesbians would wear blue jeans as a sign of pride. Of course, some straight people, having not heard about the event, would also wear blue jeans, and then might get asked, "Well, you're wearing blue jeans. Are you gay?" That event might be a consciousness-raising event for the person, since generally in a social situation, people are assumed to be straight.

Earlier in the 1970s SIUE had had a strong Students for Gay Liberation group, whose 1974 activities I have documented on this website. Even with virtually no support from my campus colleagues, I was determined to carry on the cause of gay liberation on campus. In 1975, the campus student newspaper, The Alestle, had been very supportive to my cause in printing a two-week series of articles I had written on various aspects of the gay issue. Now, they once again accepted my ads for a National Gay Blue Jeans Day on the SIUE campus on Friday, April 14, 1978, and they conducted and printed an interview of my statements in support of the cause.

I have learned in my life that occasionally, when transformational moments occur, it is valuable to journal on them, in particular endeavoring to preserve the memory of what events transpired on the particular day. Fortunately, I journaled that day, and the essay National Gay Blue Jeans Day in the Sticks was the result.


Clendinen, Dudley and Adam Nagourney, Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, Simon and Schuster, 1999, 716 pp.

Midge Costanza, Wikipedia article

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Wikipedia article