Major Department



College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2020

Honors Major Advisor

Alyssa Park

Thesis Mentor

Leslie Schwalm


The formation of the Gay Liberation Front in Iowa City in 1970 was a watershed moment for the gay liberation movement, both nationally—as the first gay organization to be officially recognized as a student group by a state university—and locally, as a militant force within the Iowa City community. Using local newspaper articles, correspondence between the Gay Liberation Front (hereafter GLF), the University of Iowa, and the Iowa City community, and oral histories, photographs, and promotional material created by the GLF, this thesis explores how the GLF navigated its relationships with the University of Iowa, outside community members, and other LGBT+ and minority groups. Using sources that have never before been systematically analyzed, this thesis argues that the GLF successfully reinvented itself and created its own safe spaces and programs for queer people. This continual reinvention was necessary for the organization to survive in a community that actively discriminated against it.


LGBT+, student activism, grassroots, student organization, midwest

Total Pages



Copyright © 2019 Michael Steffen