The history of the LGBTQ+ activism in Central PA continues to be uncovered and explored, but from what we do know there is a long and rich history to be shared. The 1960’s were a time of developing such activism, such as through the first LGBTQ+ organization in Central PA- the Janus Society- established by Richard Schlegal in 1965. This was also a time when people started to gather at gay bars, however it was not uncommon for there to be police raids. Social groups continued to develop with the Lehigh Valley Homophile Organization in 1969, and then continued to develop into the 1970’s with university groups beginning with the Homophiles of Penn State in 1971. In 1976, Pennsylvania Governor Milton J. Shapp established the Pennsylvania Council for Sexual Minorities, which was the first of its kind across all states. In addition, the 1970’s was a time of newsletters emerging, which facilitated environments for greater connection amongst one another.
You will learn what life was like in Central PA before Stonewall, and then meet many of the major players in LGBTQ+ activism in this area. Then, you will be introduced to the many political and social groups that were created because of these influential leaders. Lastly, some of the publications that came out of these organizations are highlighted, giving a robust understanding of what early LGBTQ+ activism looked like in Central PA.
Civil Rights March in Harrisburg, PA, late 1970s. Photo by Bari Weaver. 1
PA Rural Gay Caucus at Philadelphia Gay Pride Parade, 1976. Courtesy of LGBT-029, DCA. 2
Citations 1. Civil Rights March in Harrisburg, PA, late 1970s, photo, Bari Weaver, LGBT-041 Sam Edmiston Collection, LGBT History Project, Archives and Special Collections, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA. 2. PA Rural Gay Caucus at Philadelphia Gay Pride Parade, 1976, photo, LGBT-029 Steven Leshner Collection, LGBT History Project, Archives and Special Collections, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.