Browse by Decade

Whole Women Press-published book, Break de Chains of legalized U.$. Slavery. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University

Before the 1970s

Although people of diverse gender expressions and romantic and sexual attractions have existed in cultures across the world over the course of human history, documentation of their lives is hard to come by. Rarely did safe spaces exist for people to form community with each other.


The 1970s

Gay and lesbian communities in the Triangle grew dramatically in size and visibility in the 1970s. A number of activist groups sprang up in the early part of the decade, but didn’t have much staying power. Campus groups found more lasting success, the first of which was the Duke Gay Alliance (DGA) in 1972.


The 1980s

The turn of the decade catapulted Triangle gays and lesbians into political visibility. They played a public role in the responses to the murders of the “Greensboro Five” at a Communist Workers Party anti-Klan demonstration in 1979.

From a flyer about an AIDS/safe sex educational group. Joseph Fedrowitz papers, LGBTQ Collection, North Carolina Collection, Durham County Library

The 1990s

In the 1990s the far right wing politics of North Carolina senator Jesse Helms sparked activity from many different segments of the LGBTQ+ community. Unseating him was a focus of many politically active LGBTQ+ people and progressives across North Carolina.

From a poster designed by Allan Troxler advocating against Amendment One. Allan Troxler papers, LGBTQ Collection, North Carolina Collection, Durham County Library

The 2000s

The 2000s brought significant milestones for couples, from the adoption of domestic partner benefits by Durham city and county governments in the early 2000s to marriage equality in 2014.


The Present: 2010 and Beyond

The arrival of nationwide marriage equality, while still being challenged by religious exemption laws, has meant that mainstream LGBTQ+ groups have shifted some focus to other issues long critical to the community.