The Gay Peoples Union Collection

June 8, 2015

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan – a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the 1970s in Milwaukee, The Gay Peoples Union (GPU) was the most important gay and lesbian rights organization. The Gay Peoples Union Collection presents digital copies of primary source materials documenting GPU and Milwaukee’s Gay Liberation Movement. Materials were selected from the the Gay Peoples Union Records, GPU News, and the Eldon Murray Papers collections, all held by the Division of Archives and Special Collections of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries.

Taking distance from the radical politics of the New Left, GPU adopted a politically moderate approach to social change, emphasizing education and legal reform. It actively embraced mainstream and alternative media outlets in order to educate the general public about homosexuality. GPU also took a leadership role in building an infrastructure for the emerging local gay and lesbian community. It established Milwaukee’s first gay and lesbian community center, operated a telephone counseling service and a venereal disease examination center, and organized a legal defense committee to assist gays and lesbians with paying for legal representation. The organization faded in importance by the early 1980s, although it continues to exist today.

This collection has been available online since 2009 but deserves a revisit each and every year: