Gay Student Union: 1983-1985

Gay Student Union Logo

Logo for the GSU student organization. Image source: The Invisible Histories Project

The Gay Student Union was initially founded without institutional recognition by the University of Alabama. The organization was named the Gay Student Union of Tuscaloosa before receiving formal institutional recognition on September 6, 1983 at which point they dropped ‘of Tuscaloosa’ from their name.

I could not find any documentation in my research to indicate why this name was chosen despite widespread use of the female-specific identification, ‘lesbian’, by the year 1983. The name “Gay Student Union” is a curious one.  Students may have drawn inspiration from national organizations such as the National Gay Task Force or the Gay Liberation Front.  But conspicuously absent is an embrace of a diversity of queer people. Other queer student organizations across America were using names like GLUE (Gays and Lesbians United for Equality), Pride Alliance, and Student Equality Coalition. This indicates that there were more inclusive names being used on other campuses.