Traveling Exhibit of Pennsylvania LGBTQ+ Campus Activism Makes Stop at Penn State Harrisburg

“LGBTQ+ youth exist and benefit from seeing representations, models, and templates for surviving, flourishing, and forming community in a world that is hostile to non-normative genders and sexualities,” says PSU Professor Mary Zaborskis.
Philadelphia Gay Pride,1972. Photo by Kay Tobin Lahusen via The PA LGBT History Network Facebook page.

“Out on Campus: A History of LGBTQ+ Activism at Pennsylvania Colleges and Universities,” a traveling exhibition, is being hosted by the Madlyn L. Hayes Library of Penn State Harrisburg from February 20 through March 3.

The exhibit chronicles the historic fortitude of LGBTQ+ students who encountered bias and harassment while pursuing higher education and how their endeavors have cleared a path and impacted today’s generation.

Presenting the stories of some of the earliest LGBTQ+ student organizations and activism at colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, including Penn State, the exhibit details the experiences and personal accounts of being openly LGBTQ+ on campus.

“The stories featured in this exhibit represent only a small portion of Pennsylvania’s extensive LGBTQ+ student activist history. As a student activist, it was a privilege to research and write about some of these early campus leaders,” said Jeremy Boorum, a Penn State Harrisburg doctoral student in American studies who also contributed research and writing to the exhibit. 

The Beacon asked Penn State Harrisburg Assistant Professor of American Studies and Gender Studies Dr. Mary Zaborskis, who contributed research and writing to the exhibit, about the ongoing attacks on LGBTQ+ youth by far right organizations in the Central Bucks and Pennridge school districts.

“These groups claim to be against exposing children to sexuality, but they are just concerned with anything that doesn’t affirm heterosexuality,” she said.

“Extremist groups claim to be about protecting children, but they are a threat to so many of our LGBTQ+ youth who don’t have access to support and safety in schools, doctor’s offices, bathrooms, and public spaces,”  Zaborskis said. “We must keep fighting for the safety, dignity, and respect of all children, not just those who are or will grow up to be heterosexual.”

The exhibition is a collaborative project of the Pennsylvania LGBT History Network, with the LGBT Center of Central PA History Project serving as the managing partner. An online version of the “Out on Campus” exhibition is available on their website.

Located at 351 Olmsted Drive in Middletown, event goers may visit the library to view the exhibit from 7:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Friday.

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Jenny Stephens

Jenny Stephens is a freelance journalist who has written for a variety of publications, including The Reporter. An avid collector of all things vintage, she resides in the Philadelphia area.

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