Columbia Queer Alliance

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Columbia Queer Alliance is the central Columbia University student organization that represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning LGBTQ students. It is the oldest such student organization in the world, originally called the Student Homophile League (SHL), established in 1967.[1]


The SHL had twelve members who fought with university administrators for a year before the group was officially recognized. Stephen Donaldson, a bisexual-identified LGBT rights activist is commemorated by a plaque in the queer lounge that bears his name in one of Columbia's residence halls for spearheading the creation of the group.

When the charter was ultimately granted in April 1967 it earned media attention with the New York Times printing a story on the front page, the Columbia Daily Spectator reported that some students believed that the creation of the group was an April Fool's Day joke.[2] Cornell University and New York University also allowed LGBT groups to form causing a wave of LGBT student activism in the years leading up to the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969.[3] One of the early members of SHL was author Arthur Evans, even though Evans himself was still closeted at the time.

In addition to other activities the group has hosted "First Friday Dances", which at their inception were one of the very few places where college-age LGBT people could socialize with one another.


  1. ^ Dilley, Patrick (2002). Queer Man on Campus: A History of Non-Heterosexual College Men, 1945-2000. New York: RoutledgeFalmer. p. 167. ISBN 0-415-93336-6. while some disagreement and discrepancy persists about the actual dates that specific organizations formed, most researchers (and participants) of the times agree that the Student Homophile League, which formed at Columbia University in 1967, was the first. 
  2. ^ Schumach, Murray (May 3, 1967). "Columbia Charters Homosexual Group". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved December 5, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Columbia Queer Alliance". Archived from the original on February 24, 2008. Retrieved December 5, 2009. 

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