Invisible No More: A Queer & Trans History at Amherst College (2017)

Co-producer, director: Saren Deardorff ’17
Co-producer: Angie Tissi-Gassoway
Editor: Bixie Eutsler ’20

This documentary is the culmination of a multi-year project dedicated to centering the queer and trans experiences at Amherst College. The film highlights various historical and contemporary narratives of LGBTQ+ students, staff, faculty, and alumni from various moments in the college's history.

LGBTQ+ History at Amherst

This timeline is adapted from "Gay History of Amherst College," a thesis by Eric Thalasinos '02. You can access the complete thesis in the Queer Resource Center!

Year Event
1950s Three gay faculty members are dismissed by Amherst College presidents after being unfairly treated because of their sexual orientation following; though they were involved in so-called “scandals” that ranged in severity, their involvement was either never proven or without fault
 1960  Massachusetts State Police make national headlines when investigating gay professors in the area for possessing “obscene” materials
1970   Five College Student Homophile League places an ad in The Amherst Student, leading to a full article later that month; group grows from twelve to nearly thirty in five weeks; males outnumbered females three or four to one
 1971 Two students attempt to start a gay group on the Amherst College campus with little success
 1974  Amherst College Board of Trustees approve a coeducation proposal
 1977  First support group for gay and bisexual men at Amherst College successfully forms with the support of the administration; no group for women exists on campus
 1979  Student group holds very successful gay Homecoming dance with the support of the Student Council; despite this, the college lags behind the other four area colleges and national gay activism
1980 Lesbians begin attending Amherst Gay Alliance meetings; group changes its name to Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GLA) the following school year
1982 Amherst Gay and Lesbian Alumni formed amidst a mixture of support and opposition from heterosexual alumni
1983  Homophobic incident during fraternity rush stirs campus wide conversation

The Amherst Student publishes an overtly homophobic piece critiquing a presidential candidate’s support of gay rights, followed by several rebuttals and debate across campus


Eve Sedwick arrives to teach at Amherst College. Sedgwick taught English at Amherst from 1984 to 1989, during which time she helped to create the Women’s and Gender Studies department.

1986 Pink triangles are anonymously spray painted around campus and then defaced in act of anti-gay vandalism, sparking campus conversation 

Amherst College creates a Women’s and Gender Studies department; faculty vote to adopt a new campus recruitment policy requiring organizations to comply with the university’s nondiscrimination clause or be explicit about the ways in which they do not through an open forum

1988  “Bisexual” added to the name of the Friends of the Gay, Bisexual and Lesbian Alliance 
1990s Chapters of ACT UP and Queer Nation begin meeting in Amherst
1990 Former Amherst College Trustee creates The Stonewall Prize to be awarded to students for gay and lesbian scholarship
1991  Friends of the Lesbian, Bisexual and Gay Alliance merges with the Lesbian, Bisexual and Gay Alliance
1994 Professor of Political Science Hadley Arkes cosigns a homophobic letter published in The Wall Street Journal and ignites debate across campus
1995 The Affirmative Action Office first acknowledges transgender issues by sponsoring a speech by author and activist Leslie Feinberg; LBGA sponsors first Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Alumni Mentoring Weekend; a homophobic harassment incident disrupts weekend events but results in an increase of support from the student body and college administration; the following fall, members of the LBGA create a new group, the Queer/Straight Alliance, to advocate for political rights and bridge the queer and straight communities on campus
1996 Several homophobic incidents occur, including a violently homophobic anonymous letter sent to a gay student; students plan a rally in response and call for a reworking of the college disciplinary system; Folger Cleveland ’67 creates the first fund of its kind to support student work on gay and lesbian issues; LBGA adds “transgender” to their name, becoming the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender Alliance
1997 A conservative campus newspaper publishes satirical pieces ridiculing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and especially transgender community; the student government defunds the publication, causing controversy on campus and nationally, although the paper continues to publish independently
 2000 The administration provides space and a part-time paid staff position for an LGBT resource center called the Rainbow Room in the basement of Pratt dormitory

The LGBTA is renamed the Queer Union of Amherst College; Pride Alliance is created as an umbrella group under which QUAC and QSA operate; Admissions creates two LGBT intern positions to help attract LGBT applicants