Gay Academic Union

The Gay Academic Union (GAU) was a group of LGBT academics who aimed at making the academia more amenable to the LGBT community in the United States.[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 and Michael Lynch. 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 R. 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 (October 1998). Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: Second Edition. Chicago University Press. pp. xi. ISBN 978-0-226-14267-8.
  2. ^ Dawn Atkins (1998). Looking Queer: Body Image and Identity in Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Communities. Psychology Press. p. 407. ISBN 978-0-7890-0463-5.
  3. ^ Susan Talburt (March 18, 2000). Subject to Identity: Knowledge, Sexuality, and Academic Practices in Higher Education. SUNY Press . p. 4. ISBN 978-0-7914-4571-6.
  4. ^ a b c d Minton, Henry L. (1992). Gay and Lesbian Studies. Harrington Park Press. pp. 13–14. ISBN 978-1-56023-021-2.
  5. ^ Aldrich, Robert; Wotherspoon, Garry; Wentik, A.M. (2001). "Duberman, Martin Baulm". Who's who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History: From World War II to the Present Day. Routledge. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-415-22974-6.
  6. ^ a b Martin B. Duberman (2002). Left Out: The Politics of Exclusion : Essays, 1964-2002. South End Press. pp. 269–285. ISBN 978-0-89608-672-2.
  7. ^ "Gay Academic Union Fourth Annual Conference" (PDF). 1976. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 28, 2011. Retrieved May 26, 2011.