Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Echoes of Pride: Exploring the Tuscaloosa Lesbian Coalition and Southern queer history

CW / Ava Morthland
The Tuscaloosa Lesbian Coalition is located at the Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum.

At the Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum, an exhibit titled “Southern Queer History: The Lesbian Coalition” is shedding light on an often overlooked chapter of LGBTQ+ history in Tuscaloosa. This exhibit delves into the rich and resilient history of the Tuscaloosa Lesbian Coalition, highlighting its legacy in shaping the queer landscape of the South. 

The TLC was an unofficial group dedicated to popularizing lesbian cultural events. The community-based group was founded in 1986 by Rose Gladney and Marcia Winter to create a space where queer women could congregate without fear. 

According to its website, the exhibit is in collaboration with the College of Arts and Sciences’ Summersell Center for the Study of the South, which promotes research and understanding of the history of the American South. 

John Giggie, the director of the Summersell Center, worked closely with the project and contributed to the research in this exhibit. 

“There is an enormous opportunity for faculty and students to do new history. To recover, tell, and testify to the stories that have yet to be fully appreciated,” Giggie said. “There’s a hunger amongst undergraduate students to experience and to read about and participate in the historical events that aren’t represented in history books or not celebrated in every history class.” 

Giggie said the exhibit is student-led and that the organizational and research aspects of it are geared towards student leadership. Students can get involved by taking a guided tour of the exhibit or through enrolling in the Southern Queer History course created by Giggie. 

Giggie credited UA student Callum Campbell, who is pursuing a master of library and information studies degree and an interdisciplinary graduate certificate in museum studies, for her large role in organizing and leading the exhibit. 

Campbell said her interest in the subject was sparked when she took a Southern queer history class with Giggie and enjoyed the research units where the students went out and “created history” by using archives from the W.S. Hoole Special Collections. The collection for the TLC consists of its usual event correspondence, its monthly newsletters, and advertisements for lesbian and women’s events both national and regional. 

“The Lesbian Coalition was all about being inclusive,” Campbell said. “A lot of people like to think that all of this ‘queer stuff’ is just coming up now, but this shows that it’s been here. I mean, Stonewall happened in ‘69.” 

The exhibit is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and according to Campbell the exhibit will end the 29th. Specific dates can be found on the event website.

“This exhibit is here to show that you can be queer in the South,” Campbell said. “We always have been here and we always will be.” 

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