Five moments Berkeley led the way for the queer community

two women smiling and holding signs that say "Queerdos" and "Unite"

Cal community members hold signs at the 2018 Oakland Pride Parade. (Cal Alumni Association photo by Kelley Cox)

In the spring of 1970, the Gay Student Union at UC Berkeley hosted the first openly gay dance on the campus. News of the event spread across the state, and when a KQED reporter asked then-governor of California Ronald Reagan for his reaction, he famously replied, “I haven’t been invited yet!” After word got back to Berkeley, the union wrote a letter to Reagan, inviting him and his wife, Nancy, to the dance.

This moment, and several others, are highlighted this month in a Cal Alumni Association roundup of times when the Berkeley community has played a key role in pushing for equal rights, visibility and representation for the LGBTQI+ community.

“College dances were not cool in those days, but ours filled Pauley Ballroom” wrote alumnus Robert Plantz, the president of the Gay Student Union in the 1969-70 academic year, in the story’s comments section. “The campus police report after the dance said that it was the most trouble-free event of that size that they had seen on campus.”

Read about other moments Berkeley made LGBTQI+ history, from the creation of the LGBT studies minor to the establishment of the Gender Equity Resource Center.