Main article on Washington University Gay Pride activities
    Flier for 1979 Pride Activities (side 1)
    Flier for 1979 Pride Activities (side 2)
    Brochure for 1979 Pride Activities (Logo and map)
    Directory on 1979 Brochure
    Brochure for 1979 Pride Activities (Agenda)
    National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights
    Other St. Louis Lesbian Groups in the 1970s
    Women Take Back the Night (Gaylife article)
    Women Take Back the Night 1979
    Dykes Find a New Home
    Lesbian Rights Alliance
    Herstory: Finding The Lesbian Heritage
    Homophile Community and the Law

Jim Andris, Facebook

Gay Pride Weekend Hosted by the Concerned Gay Students (CGS) at Washington University, April, 1979

2nd draft, completed Friday, June 1, 2012 8:00 p.m. by Jim Andris

The Concerned Gay Students hosted a Gay Pride Weekend at Washington University Friday, April 20, to Sunday, April 22, 1979. There were no gay newspapers in St. Louis at the time to report on this event as with No Bad News in 1980. Funding came from the Student Union Programming Board, rather than from the lesbian and gay community at large as in 1980. University associated groups such as the Feminist Coalition and the Women's Resource Center donated space and support within the confines of the Washington University campus. Still, it seems that these 1979 student designed activities served as a springboard for the expanded pride activities that occured exactly one year later in St. Louis in 1980.

There was definitely a spirit of "ecumenism" in this university-centered celebration of gay and lesbian pride. The carefully designed and professionally printed large brochure available to attendees of the conference contains much evidence of collaboration with the community at large. For one thing, student organizers offered thanks to many of the organizations that were active in 1980: Affirmation, Cordiss (sic) Printing, Dignity, Gay Academic Union, Gaylife, Integrity, KWUR, Left Bank Books, Lutherans Concerned, Metropolitan Community Church, Shared Visions, Sunshine Inn, and The Women's Eye. Still, it was a student production, and whoever Deb, Ira, and Alex are, along with the forty four other people identified by first names printed in the brochure, they deserve much credit for staging this successful three day pride activity.

Saturday afternoon there were three tracks of workshops offered at 12:00, 2:00 and 4:00 p.m., a total of 9 workshops altogether, and the topics were broad-ranging: Gays and Chemical Abuse, How Professionals Work With Gays, Incest Is Not Best: Maintaining Relationships in the Lesbian Community, Coming Out Professionally, Parents of Gays Panel Discussion, Men's and Women's Consciousness Raising Groups, Gays in Prison, and Coming Out And Beyond. This "academic" core of activities, however, was supplemented by a broad range of alternatives: two films, a Saturday coffee house, a concert on Saturday night by well-known lesbian entertainer Chris Williamson at The St. Louis Conservatory and Schools for the Arts (CASA), and a Saturday night dance at MCC.

On Sunday, two events were held, both of them indicating the grounding of this event in community-wide awareness. At 10:00 a.m. The Missouri Coalition for Human Rights held its quarterly board meeting in the Women's Building main lounge. This organization was quite active throughout the last half of the 1970s and had a large role in opposition to the anti-gay movement in 1977-1978 featuring Anita Bryant and the Briggs Initiative, Missouri being one of the states Bryant toured in 1977. Then at 1:00 p.m. an Ecumenical Sunday Service was held in Graham Chapel, with Dignity (Catholic), Lutherans Concerned, Affirmation (Methodist), Integrity (Episcopal), and the Metropolitan Community Church participating. Such a service is indicative of wide-spread support within the lesbian and gay Christian community of the era.

Further research clearly needs to be done to establish more definite lines of connection beween the student-led weekend of pride celebration in 1979 at Washington University and the community-forged 1980 week of activities capped by a weekend of workshops on Saturday and a walk for charity and rally at the Washington University Quadrangle. The next section of this article attempts to locate keys to this past connection.

The Roots of Washington University's Participation

Several developments during the decade of the 1970s contributed to Gay Pride Weekend 1979 hosted by the Concerned Gay Students at Washington University.

Emergent Lesbian Culture in the 1970s

It is worth quoting the first two paragraphs of Neil Miller's (1995) book chapter on the development of women's music in the 1970s for two reasons. First, we can see these national trends reflected in local St. Louis culture, and second, these changes in women's culture played an essential part in the emergence of the Celebration of Lesbian and Gay Pride in 1980, whose roots we are trying to understand.

The lesbian-feminist culture that emerged in the United States in the 1970s took a very different direction from that of gay men. If gay men celebrated sex, lesbians honored a more abstract idea of woman-loving. If gay men created a community that seemed to mirror mainstream society, lesbians tried to forge one that was more utopian, more in line with counterculture values.

Interestingly, music—disco for the men and "women's music" for lesbians—played a formative role in both cultures. The "Black Party" at New York's Flamingo disco had its equivalent in women's concerts and music festivals. Both offered particular kinds of affirmations—the shirtless, sweating men exulting in a long-repressed sexuality; the women standing together, locking arms, and singing in unison at the end of a concert by Holly Near or Chris Williamson. Until the political backlash towards the end of the seventies, lesbian feminists and gay men rarely socialized or worked together politically. Both groups were too busy creating their own cultures; neither necessarily saw the other as an ally.

It seems apparent that during the long and sometimes violent cultural and political struggles of the 1960s—the non-violent demonstrations for the civil rights of African Americans throughout southern urban areas and the student-led peace movement as a reaction to the Vietnam War—awakened a sense of dissatisfaction with gender discrimination in at least three other demographic groups: women, lesbians, and gay men. The history of the 1970s cannot be understood without understanding how these three groups evolved and interacted, both with each other and with the larger culture.

The Women's Study Program at Washington University

There was an interesting context for the development of the 1979 Gay Pride Weekend at Washington University and the subsequent Celebration of Lesbian and Gay Pride in 1980. While details and connections are sketchy, a picture is beginning to emerge of background forces that may have helped to make these celebrations possible.

In 1979 there had been recent changes in the direction of the Women's Studies Program at Washington University. Joyce Trebilcot had become co-coordinator, as reported in the Feb., 1979 issue of Gatherings, a position she held until 1992. She retired from teaching at Washington University in 1995. Trebilcot came to the University in 1970 as an assistant professor of philosophy and founded first the women's studies major in 1972 and program in 1975. Mary Ann Dzuback is quoted in Trebilcot's obituary as saying “She was formidable in challenging the University to recognize women students as legitimate members of the community and women’s experiences as eminently as worthy of study as men’s.” Trebilcot was a recognized writer and figure in second wave feminism. After her retirement, "she remained engaged in feminist dialogue with her colleagues, friends and anyone else whose attention she could garner." She died in 2009.

It seems likely that Chris Guerrero worked closely with Trebilcot and others as she accomplished many things. She held the position of Women's Programming Coordinator from 1977 until 1982. One of her documents shows her planning to accomplish an astonishing number of goals for Women's Programming, which included acting as resource and advisor with the Women's Programming Board, the Feminist Coalition, and the Women's Resource Center. These organizations put together, among many program items, a Tuesday Women's Film Series, a Very Interesting Women's Series, a Women's Film Festival and brought nationally recognized women to the campus for speaking engagements. The Women's Programming Board was made up of "women undergraduates who plan programs to meet the needs and concerns and interests of women students." Guerrero herself was an undergraduate at the time. On the Washington University Campus in 1979 was a Women's Building with a Women's Resource Center on the 3rd floor. Both the Women's Programming Board and the Feminist Coalition, were meeting weekly on different days in the late afternoon.

Chris Guerrero was also an important member of the Magnolia Committee, which planned and executed the Walk for Charity on April 20, 1980. She was one of four Committee members who met with Mayor James Conway's office to negotiate a positive relationship between the City of St. Louis and the 1980 Walk for Charity. According to Bill Spicer, also a Magnolian, Chris Guerrero took care of all the Washington University connections. She negotiated the use of Washington University's "band shell," as he put it, for the afternoon Rally that was held in the Quadrangle after the Walk for Charity . She "kind of coordinated all the Washington University" connections," and she took some time at the Rally to thank various Washington University individuals who had helped in this connection.

Moreover, it may even be that the continuous, hard work of Chris Guerrero for women's and lesbian's causes—augmented by help and input from Trebilcot and others—was essential glue that put together the parts of both the 1979 and the 1980 celebrations. To take just one example, for more than two years, the Women's Programming Board had put together a weekly to biweekly Women's Film Series on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Gargoyle Coffeehouse on campus. Lesbian interests were well-represented in this series. But what is even more interesting is that the films that had been scheduled for April 16, 1980—right in the middle of the April 12-20 Celebration of Lesbian and Gay Pride—were the films Daughter Rite and In the Best Interests of the Children. The latter film follows the experience of eight lesbian mothers talking about their experience as Lesbians and mothers. Surely this is more than coincidence, and it was Chris Guerrero, who according to Bill Spicer who lined up the Rally location, interfaced with the student group at Wash U, was fully involved with the Magnolia Commitee and thanked people for their help at the Rally.

The Concerned Gay Students (CGS) of Washington University

What is really puzzling about the magnificently well-planned and executed weekend of gay pride activities apparently put together by the Concerned Gay Students at Washington University in 1979, is that it occurred almost invisibly and against a background atmosphere of intimidation and subtle resentment. Save for a single quarter page ad taken out on Friday, April 20, 1979, the first day of the Gay Pride Weekend, there is virtually no mention of this event either before or after it occurred. In large, spaced print, the ad read:

Everyone is welcome, Gay Pride Weekend … a human rights celebration Apr. 20 21 22 1979 Featuring workshops, Movies, Dance for Human Rights, Ecumenical Sunday Service, Coffeehouse with live entertainment, Sponsored by Concerned Gay Students For further information call 889-5083 or 889-5998.

However, during January of 1979, a campus-wide debate was developing over the inclusion of the phrase "sexual preference" in the non-discrimination clause of the Student Bar Association.

On Friday, January 19, 1979, Student Life had carried an impassioned letter to the editor by Stephan Roger Jaccard (representing the Concerned Gay Students) entitled “Gay Community deserves recognition as a valuable minority,” Written from the heart and excellent, his article blames certain segments of society for oppression of gays, proclaims the widespread existence of gays, that we (gays) are responsible for ourselves, and exhorts Student Life and MoPIRG to support gays and lesbians as a show of support for social justice. In the same issue of Student Life appeared a brief, inconspicuous classified ad: "Concerned Gay Students meet every Wed. at 9:30 p.m. for location call 862-3779."

Student Life carried an editorial on Tuesday, January 23, strongly urging the Student Bar Association to support the measure proposing the addition of the phrase "sexual preference" to the Association's non-discrimination clause, and that week, the law students did support the measure at 57% rate of approval. In their commendation of the Student Bar Association for this action, Student Life averred this to be a "clear mandate to faculty and administration of the law school." Also found in the January 23 editorial was an interesting statement that asserted that CGS (Concerned Gay Students) “might as well stand for Clandestine Gay Society, which is what, seemingly out of necessity, the group in fact is.” In fact, in all the issues of Student Life from January through May, only the small anonymous classified ad, describing no public location, appeared a few times, and the one April 20 invitiation to Gay Pride Weekend. Only two students, including Jaccard, had identified themselves in print. This student organization, CGS, did indeed appear clandestine, and reasons for this are not far to seek.

In a few day, Student Life started printing letters pro and con around the letter from Stephan Roger Jaccard. One student wrote that she would not be supporting any individual or group who blamed others for their troubles. Another wrote that the only difference between gays and straights is who they have sex with, a relatively unimportant thing, and that there is no human rights issue here. The issue was not without its defenders. A biology professor wrote to document the extent of discrimination throughout history against gays and to point out that homosexual acts are "crimes against nature" in Missouri. He said that homophobia and ignorance of the plight of gays is rampant on the Washington University campus. Perhaps the strongest rebutting letter was written by Gar Allen who said that the critic failed to distinguish between sex and sexual orientation, and minimized the importance of dealing with the gay issue (or black) openly.

One last notable item appeared on the editorial page of the January 23 issue of Student Life, encouraging people to think when they see the pink triangle around campus, gay and in the closet that they are not alone:

Pink triangle a symbol of long oppression of gays.
To the editor: The pink triangle is the most infamous symbol of gay oppression. … Today Concerned Gay Students is using the pink triangle to commemorate the unrelenting oppression experienced by 24 million gay Americans … your family, friends, and co-workers. We have been jailed, beaten, fired, pitied, harassed into hiding our lives because we believe in our right to love.

Stephen Roger Jaccard and Jessica Claquemure for Concerned Gay Students.

Here is one final observation. The following year, 1980, the Concerned Gay Students have become the Concerned Lesbian and Gay Students. They have garnered almost NO attention in Student Life, save this time, on Apr. 15, a quarter page ad appeared for the Celebration of Lesbian and Gay Pride in 1980. The ad was essentially a copy of the Schedule of Events. A close examination of this schedule reveals that, in fact, the 1979 Washington University Gay Pride Weekend is surely a template for a good chunk of the 1980 activities, even though the Saturday workshops were held at St. Louis Community College—Forest Park. What was truly new in 1980 was a public Walk for Charity and Rally on the last day of the week-long celebration. Everything else may have come from collaborations forged earlier in the 1970s.

Left Bank Books

A clue to yet another Washington University connection appeared in the January 26 issue of Student Life. On p. 8 one finds a two page spread on The West End by Anne Burris and Pamela Glaser. The article says the area offers variety. It describes the eating establishments and shops of the day, including Brandy’s and Herbie’s (known gay or gay-friendly establishments) but never once mentions the word "gay" or even any code words for that word. Here is the interesting clue:

Located on the Southeast corner of Euclid and McPherson, Left Bank moved to the West End last year from its previous location in the Delmar Loop. Left Bank was opened six years ago by a group of Washington University graduate students and is now run as a collective with four managers.  [Section on 20% off on hardbacks] Left Bank offers used and first edition books along with a large selection of books and periodicals on politics, feminism, and gay rights. Like several of the people we spoke to in the West End, the people at Left Bank would like to have a larger clientele of WU students.”

It would be quite interesting to find who were these Washington University graduate students (in the time period of 1973-4). This was just the time period when Joyce Trebilcot had started a women's study major on campus and was moving toward a women's study program. Could we trace the roots of Left Bank Books back to the inspiration and nurturance of Joyce Trebilcot, her students and her colleaguest? According to Library Thing, at least one owner, Kris Kleindienst "has a degree in Women's Studies and English Literature from Washington University is a writer and political activist. She is a board member of the ACLU, and a founding board member of BUILD St. Louis. She won a Lambda Literary Award for her edited collection of essays, This Is What Lesbian Looks Like: Dyke Activists Take On the 21st Century and writes a monthly column for the Vital Voice."

Note: Many thanks to Miranda Rechtenwald for her valuable assistance in researching the Washington University Archive material used in writing this article.


Issues of Student Life (Washington University in St. Louis, MO) from 1979 and 1980.

Andris, Jim, Interview of Bill Spicer, Oct. 30, 2011.

Gatherings: A Newsletter about Women, Vol. 1, No. 1, (Feb. 1979) ed. by Chris Guerrero, et. al., (Evelyn Hu-Dehart. Susan Hegger, and Joyce Trebilcot, co-cordinator.) Vol. 2. No. 2, (Nov. 1980) ed. by Chris Guerrero, et. al. (Evelyn Hu-DeHart, Susan Mizruchi, Vanessa Selby, and Joyce Trebilcot, co-cordinator.) Women’s Resource Center Records. Dates: 1970 – 2005 (bulk 1973 – 2003). University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Washington University.

Daues, Jessica, "Obituary: Trebilcot, professor emerita and co-founder of women’s studies, 76," July 15, 2009, https://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/14297.aspx

Guerrero, Chris, Plans for Fall 1978 Women's Programming. Washington University Archives. Women’s Resource Center Records. Dates: 1970 – 2005 (bulk 1973 – 2003). University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Washington University.

Joyce Trebilcot (February 15, 1933 – May 27, 2009), obituary in Sinister Wisdom: A Multicultural Journal by and for Lesbians, April 25, 2012.

Miller, Neil, "Lesbian Nation and Women's Music, in Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present. New York: Vintage Books, 1995, Chapter 26, pp. 431-438.