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COLLECTION Identifier: bMS 1309

Unitarian Universalist Association. Office of Lesbian and Gay Concerns. Records, 1972-1999


Records of the Unitarian Universalist Association's Office of Lesbian and Gay Concerns. The records span 1972-1999.


  • 1972-1999


There are no restrictions on access to this collection.


15 boxes
The bulk of the records in this collection are those of Rev. Robert Wheatly, director of the Office of Gay Concerns from 1977-1986. Correspondence to and from him and some of the other directors may be found throughout the collection, as well. In addition, much of the material in this collection not only documents the activities of the office, but also chronicles a growing nationwide movement concerning the rights of sexual minorities.

Biographical / Historical

In June of 1973 the UUA General Assembly passed a resolution to create an Office of Gay Affairs (later called the Office of Gay Concerns) which would act as a resource for the UUA and the general public. The stated functions of the office were to: eliminate discrimination against gays; promote understanding and equality of their treatment; and to foster equal opportunity politically, socially and economically. This resolution came about through the lobbying efforts of the Unitarian Universalist Gay Caucus, which was founded by Richard Nash and Elgin Blair in 1971. The Office of Gay Concerns (OGC) was established in 1974 as part of the Department of Education and Social Concerns. At that time, the department director was Norman Benson. Arlie Scott was hired as the Office of Gay Concerns' first director in 1974.

In 1977 the UUA Board of Directors voted to create a new Office of Social Responsibility, which was to bring together all issues of social concern, and which would include the Office of Gay Concerns. Robert P. Wheatly was the associate director of the Office of Social Responsibility, and the new director of the Office of Gay Concerns. Wheatly divided his time between gay concerns and issues of aging.

The OGC later became known as the Office of Lesbian and Gay Concerns (OLGC). In 1985 a Task Force on Social Responsibility was formed which implicitly recommended that the OLGC be eliminated and that the UU Gay Caucus (which at this point was called the Unitarian Universalists for Lesbian and Gay Concerns (UUGLC) staff its own office and that a member of the Department for Social Justice (previously the Department of Social Responsibility) hold a portfolio for lesbian and gay concerns. In response to this, a program called Common Vision was initiated to decide how lesbian and gay issues should be addressed within the denomination. This involved the dissemination of a questionnaire to UUA districts which resulted in a general report which included a number of recommendations. As a result of this process, the OLGC remained intact, and Jay Deacon became director of the office in 1986. Programs like the AIDS Action Working Group were implemented, and in 1989 the Welcoming Congregation program, designed to combat homophobia, was initiated in many UU congregations throughout the country.

In 1996 the Office became known as the UUA Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Concerns (OBGLTC). In 2010 the Office became known as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Ministries, and in 2012 the name was changed to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Ministries.


This collection is organized into the following series:

Series I. Administrative Records, 1972-1999: The records of the Gay Caucus (UUGLC), the records of the Office of Gay Concerns, and regional records from both of these organizations. It also includes the correspondence of OGC directors Arlie Scott, Robert Wheatly, and some of the correspondence of subsequent directors. General UUA records and General Assembly records, especially those pertaining to gay concerns, comprise the rest of this first series.

Series II. Legislation, 1975-1995: These records document the efforts of gay organizations, including UU district organizations, to legislate for the rights of gay minorities.

Series III. Events, Conferences, Workshops, etc., 1975-1994: The records of many conferences and events related to the gay movement, many of which were sponsored by the UUA, such as GALA (Gay and Lesbians Affirmed) which was founded by Robert Wheatly and cosponsored by the OGC and the Ferry Beach Park Association.

Series IV. Denominations, 1987-1996: Records which document the efforts made by various religious denominations to support their gay members.

Series V. Organizations, 1976-1997: The records of various gay and lesbian organizations throughout the country, including UU organizations such as Boston UU Gays and Lesbians (BUUGL) started by Rev. Robert Wheatly.

Series VI. Subject files, 1973-1995: Files on a number of pertinent subjects related to gay concerns, such as education, homophobia, violence against gays, etc. These files consist of newspaper and magazine clippings, reports, and some correspondence.

Series VII. Publications, 1958-1996: This series consists largely of the newsletters of gay organizations from all parts of the United States.

Series VIII. Resources, 1976-1995: Bibliographies, educational materials, worship services, information about audiovisual materials, and other resources for the gay community. Also includes film strip entitled "The Invisible Minority."

Acquisition Information

Gift of the Unitarian Universalist Association, 2003.

Related Materials

For related collections, please see the papers of Robert Wheatly (bMS 713) and the papers of Frank E. Robertson (bMS 723).

General note

The number after the slash in each entry in the following list indicates the box number, and the number in parentheses is the folder number.
Unitarian Universalist Association. Office of Lesbian and Gay Concerns. Records, 1972-1999: A Finding Aid.
Andover-Harvard Theological Library

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Divinity School Library, Harvard University Repository

Special Collections at Andover-Harvard Theological Library preserves and makes accessible primary source materials documenting the history of religion and theology, with particular historical emphasis on American liberal religious traditions. Though the historical strengths of the collections have been in the field of Christianity, other religious traditions are increasingly reflected, in step with Harvard Divinity School's evolving focus on global religious studies.

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