Gay Academic Union

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The Gay Academic Union (GAU) was a group of LGBT academics who aimed at making the academia more amenable to the LGBT community.[1][2] It was formed in April 1973, just four years after the Stonewall riots,[3] held 4 yearly conferences (the last in November, 1976) and conducted other scholarly activities. It disbanded some time after that.[4]


Members included Martin Duberman,[5] Bertha Harris, Karla Jay, Jonathan Dunn-Rankin, John D'Emilio, Joan Nestle, Jonathan Ned Katz, Barbara Gittings,[4] George Whitmore, Andrea Dworkin, Dawn M. Atkins. They held their first conference on November 23 and 24, 1973, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice - City University of New York in New York City.[4]

Martin Duberman remembers that lesbians were often discriminated against by other white male homosexuals.[6] He recalls an argument with George Whitmore.[6] The Lesbian Herstory Archives were founded in 1974 by lesbian members of the Gay Academic Union who had organized a group to discuss sexism within that organization. Co-founders Joan Nestle, Deborah Edel, Sahli Cavallo, Pamela Oline, and Julia Stanley wanted to ensure that the stories of the lesbian community were protected for future generations.

By 1975, many radicals had left the group and conferences were moved to Los Angeles, although Wayne Dynes and others stayed in New York.[4] The 1976 conference, however, was held at Columbia University in New York City.[7]

Jonathan Dunn-Rankin was National President from 1981-1987 and traveled from city to city trying to organize all the chapters together.


  1. ^ John D'Emilio, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1998, p. xi [1]
  2. ^ Dawn M. Atkins, Looking Queer: Body Image and Identity in Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Communities, Haworth Press, 1998, p. 407 [2]
  3. ^ Susan Talburt, Subject to Identity: Knowledge, Sexuality, and Academic Practices in Higher Education, New York: State University of New York Press, 2000, p. 4 [3]
  4. ^ a b c d Jeffrey Escoffier, 'Generations and Paradigms: Mainstreams in Lesbian and Gay Studies', in Gay and Lesbian Studies, Henry L. Minton (ed), Harrington Park Press, 1993, pp. 13-14 [4]
  5. ^ A.M. Wentik, 'Duberman, Martin Baulm', in Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History, Robert Aldrich (ed.), Garry Wotherspoon (ed.), New York: Routledge, 2001, p. 116 [5]
  6. ^ a b Martin Duberman, Left Out: The Politics of Exclusion - Essays 1964-2002, South End Press, 2002, pp. 269-285 [6]
  7. ^