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Early Gay Liberation Movement at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 1971-1978
Lambda Line

Gay Community Alliance Dance, May 12, 1973

Iowa State University Daily, May 9-11, 1973 (ad); May 12, 1973 (dance)

Dance Poster

I believe this was the first gay dance in Ames.

We felt the need to have a dance; there had been dances in Iowa City for years (well, maybe only one or two years, but that was an eternity to college aged kids!) and we hated feeling like we were behind our Eastern compatriots in liberating the state of Iowa. I don't believe there were any mimeographed posters distributed for this dance, just simply this ad placed in the Daily and one in the first newsletter we put out, Gayly Forward. The "Gay Community Alliance" was a name we concocted for a group hug between the Gay Men's Rap Group and Lesbian Alliance, since often we were on simply cordial, not always warm, terms (this was not true of certain members of each group who were friends). We needed each other for events like this, and it made good sense for social events.

Thinking back on it, I believe this dance had an Iowa City stamp of approval on it, as Dean Blake from the U of I Gay Liberation Front visited us and attended that weekend. Just a week or two before our dance, a GLF dance in Iowa City was raided by police because they were taking up a collection to pay for the beer at the dance. I think that may have put a damper on our celebration and no doubt scared some people away since this was the first event of its kind in Ames.

Lambda Line

The Personal is the Political

It had been a busy, even if it hadn't been a vocal, year for us in Gay Liberation. The dance was a nice way to end the year of rapping, which had produced a lot of talk, at least one radio show, and many trips to "Courtship and Marriage" and Sociology classes to explain to the masses of students at Iowa State that we were human beings, too. I began to think that after subjecting oneself to the same questions day in and day out for a year it felt like I was pounding my head against a steel wall, but somehow I think it still gave me strength useful in other pursuits by having gone through the self flagellation process. And there was always the hope that it would help somebody who had been as despondent as I had only a short while before. Sometimes we did help just such people, too.

It oddly enough seemed like there were always at least two fundamentalist Christians in every class I went to, placed there for everyone's comic relief perhaps, upset and trying to control us evil appendages of Satan who were sitting directly in front of them telling them things their parents and other controllers told them they should never hear. We had courage sitting there in front of their faces, invading the secure and warm classroom setting where they had planned to learn only how to be good wives and hubbies.

Hmm, I can even remember one Courtship and Marriage class when a duo got up and walked on us. How rude! I trust the professor gave them no fruit cup when it came time for the class meal.

Campus Crusade was really big at Iowa State, recruiting the weak spirited to their religion of lies was a big time business. Other cults came and people got upset. Fundamentalists seemed to be given a free reign. The Moonies (Unification Church) had arrived too; one winter day hundreds of young Korean kids appeared on the sidewalks going to and fro and filling central campus holding roses in one hand with the other an open palm waiting for donations; they were simply everywhere like a swarm of mating ants that had erupted from goddess only knows where. Soon after the initial attack, Caucasian home grown Moonies made their way to town and did the same ploy. It was sometimes fun when in the Union to pit a group of Fundamentalists up against the Moonies, and watch the inevitable fireworks.

The Union was also a good place to talk to the mostly communist or leftist Iranians who outnumbered all counted minority groups including blacks by a fair number at Iowa State in the early 1970s. I think at high tide there were around 900 Iranians on campus, all seeming to be working for the overthrow of the dreaded Shah, hoping for a government of and by their own people. They got the first part of it anyway; and if they all returned to try to rule the new country, I imagine a lot of the folks I knew were probably killed. I'd left Iowa by the time of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, but I was sent reports on how difficult it was for those particular foreign students during that bleak period.

One final thing I can remember we did during the second year of gay liberation was in spring. We were invited to Buena Vista College in Storm Lake to speak, this being right after the big, unexpected April snowstorm that brought Ames to its knees for two days (Nice party at Allen's during that). I was one of the speakers who went to Buena Vista; we had a whole auditorium packed with students there, a larger crowd that we ever encountered (or I ever encountered anyway) in any one group at Iowa State. I think they were perhaps a bit more cordial than we were used to, probably because we were only temporary invaders. Or perhaps it was solely Ames that bred us fanatics of so many stripes.

We were really set for the 1973-74 school year.

It was time to do something besides simply talking.

—Dennis Brumm

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