This exhibit describes post-Stonewall gay activism at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon and events that motivated the formation of the first officially recognized gay student group at OSU in 1976.
Corvallis, Oregon is a traditional rural college town that has been the home of Oregon State University for more than a century. The population of Corvallis only recently exceeded 50,000 people, including the more than 20,000 OSU students.
OSU has historically attracted more conservative students to research and educational programs in forestry, engineering and agricultural science because of these fields importance to the local economy. More liberal students and those seeking a strong liberal arts program have historically favored other state colleges, such as the University of Oregon, 40 miles to the south in Eugene, Oregon. U of O students used to refer to OSU as "Oregon Straight" or the "cow college" in reference to the cows actually being raised on campus for various research programs. Conservative OSU students frequently stereotype U of O students as being "marijuana smoking hippie peaceniks" that go to a "party school." Therefore, it was surprising that the formation of a gay student group at OSU in 1976 initially drew no response from the predominantly straight and anti-gay Christian Republican OSU students.
Corvallis, Oregon is located across the Willamette River from Albany, Oregon, the birthplace of "Alberta Lucille Hart" who lived as the man "Alan Hart" in the early part of the 20th century. Hart's story is documented in Jonathan Ned Katz's 1976 "Gay American History" book and 1983 "Gay/Lesbian Almanac."