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.”