Library hosts ‘Out on Campus’ exhibition about state’s LGBTQ+ activism history

2 photos of tall banners on stands, 1 photo of 1972 crowd and 2 banners worded Homophiles of Penn State, Hi Mom Guess What

The six-panel “Out on Campus” traveling exhibition at the Madlyn L. Hanes Library includes this black-and-white photograph of a crowd at the Philadelphia Gay Pride Rally and March on June 11, 1972, included a banner representing Homophiles of Penn State. 

Credit: color images courtesy of Heidi Abbey Moyer; black-and-white photograph from the Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen Gay History Papers and Photographs Collection, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries’ Madlyn L. Hanes Library at Penn State Harrisburg is hosting a traveling exhibition titled “Out on Campus: A History of LGBTQ+ Activism at Pennsylvania Colleges and Universities” Feb. 20–March 3 on the library’s first floor. 

Penn State Harrisburg Assistant Professor of American Studies and Gender Studies Mary Zaborskis, who contributed research and writing to the exhibit, said, “Many universities have thriving LGBTQ+ student organizations today, and these groups are part of a longer genealogy of LGBTQ+ activism that spans the 20th century. This exhibit traces these early histories of students who fought for freedom from harassment while pursuing their education, struggled to establish spaces to gather and build solidarities, and worked to create and demand supportive environments for themselves and the next generations of students.”  

This exhibition presents the stories of the formation of some of the earliest LGBTQ+ student organizations and activism at colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, including Penn State, as well as experiences and personal stories of being openly LGBTQ+ on campus. 

Visitors will learn about the largest documented LGBTQ+ civil rights student demonstration on a college or university campus in the nation before the Stonewall Uprising in 1969, the first known openly transgender student government president in the nation, the university students who had to sue to get recognition for their student organization, and many more fascinating stories of LGBTQ+ campus activism in Pennsylvania. 

“The stories featured in this exhibit represent only a small portion of Pennsylvania’s extensive LGBTQ+ student activist history. As a student activist, it was a privilege to research and write about some of these early campus leaders, and I look forward to seeing what future public history projects emerge from this exhibit ,” said Jeremy Boorum, a Penn State Harrisburg doctoral student in American studies who also contributed research and writing to the exhibit.  

“The Hanes Library is honored to host ‘Out on Campus.’ Displaying a traveling exhibition like this is vitally important not only to the education and teaching mission of the University, but also to Penn State University Libraries’ and Hanes Library’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion outreach initiatives, which are centered on understanding, empathy, respect and transformation,” said Heidi Abbey Moyer, Hanes Library archivist and humanities reference librarian and coordinator of archives and special collections.  

The exhibition is a collaborative project of the Pennsylvania LGBT History Network, with the LGBT Center of Central PA History Project serving as the managing partner. An online version of the “Out on Campus” exhibition is available on their website. 

An opening reception for the exhibition, including a panel discussion, will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, in the Hanes Library’s Morrison Gallery.  

To learn more about LGBTQ+ topics, the University Libraries offers an LGBTQIA+ Studies library guide, which includes library databases and a section with Penn State and community resources.  

The Madlyn L. Hanes Library is a three-story, 115,000-square-foot, technologically advanced academic research library that includes 300,000 volumes and 1.3 million microforms. With access to more than 940 databases and 225,000 online full-text journals through the University Libraries, the facility provides extensive support to online and remote users. The librarians offer individual research assistance by appointment. The Hanes Library also offers a wide array of course-integrated instruction, research workshops and library tours.