Empowering Voices

This digital exhibit, Empowering Voices, provides compelling examples from collections in The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections that chronicle the growth of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) community in the United States, and specifically in Alabama. The items are from the Alabama Forum Records, the Billy Jack Gaither Collection, the Hoole Library Alabama Collection, the Miller-Stephens GLBTQ UA Student Organization Collection, the Tuscaloosa Lesbian Coalition Records, the Wade Hall Papers, and the West Alabama AIDS Outreach Records.

The examples are organized into major themes, with a special focus on items that pertain to The University of Alabama and the city of Tuscaloosa. The exhibit begins with a timeline of significant events in the national and statewide history of the LGBTQ community. Special Collections is currently processing and digitizing these materials to make them accessible to both onsite researchers and the global research community.

Special Collections acknowledges our donors, named on each individual item page, and all those who helped gather these materials to preserve them for future generations. The creators of this digital exhibit also acknowledge the many people who compiled resources that have helped us document the history of the LGBTQ community in the United States, and particularly in Alabama. These resources are cited throughout the exhibit and on the Resources page. For overall consistency, we consulted “A Guide for Reporting on LBGT People in Alabama” published by GLAAD, a national organization that monitors and advocates for the representation of LGBTQ people in the media.

A Timeline of the LGBTQ community in Alabama and the United States
Stonewall Riots take place in New York City 1969
1970 First Pride Parades held in four US cities
Lambda Legal founded 1973
1977 Alabama Forum starts publishing in Birmingham
First National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights 1979
1979 Central Alabama Pride holds first “Day in the Park” celebration in Birmingham, Alabama
Human Rights Campaign founded 1980
1981 Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) opens in Birmingham, Alabama
Gay Student Union (now Spectrum) incorporates on The University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa 1983
1985 Birmingham AIDS Outreach opens
Tuscaloosa Lesbian Coalition founded 1986
1987 Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights
West Alabama AIDS Outreach opens in Tuscaloosa, Alabama 1989
1989 First Birmingham Pride Parade
National Lesbian Conference meets in Atlanta, Georgia 1991
1993 National March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights
Murder of Billy Jack Gaither in Sylacauga, Alabama 1999
2002 Equality Alabama founded
Lawrence v. Texas decided by US Supreme Court 2003
2015 Obergefell v. Hodges makes same-sex marriage legal across US