Duke’s LGBTQ History

Author name
Larry Moneta, VP for Student Affairs

Dear Duke parents and families,

Periodically, I like to acknowledge various parts of our diverse community. Today, in advance of some key upcoming commemorations, I want to share some thoughts about our LGBTQ community.

I’m proud to acknowledge an environment where all students, gay and straight, are equal members of our broader Duke family and where we celebrate differences and support persistent struggles which, unfortunately, yet exist. I invite you to check out the website for the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity for an array of current facts that showcase our achievements and pride.

Unfortunately, Duke’s history has not always celebrated the presence of LGBTQ students and President Brodhead noted so in his remarks at the opening of our new Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, when he said:

“As an institution within a larger culture, it's not surprising that the Duke of older times was saturated with homophobia. Last year, students in Blue Devils United brought forward evidence of official intolerance and active repression of homosexuality at Duke from the 1960s. They also shared personal testaments from graduates of that time. These Dukies testified that they could not be the people they knew themselves to be while they were students, could not have the love lives and personal lives they wished, were pathologized -- and even when the situation improved slightly, the pressures of swimming against the stream were dispiriting and exhausting.

I've read these histories, and I'm sure we'll uncover many more in the future.  As president of this university, I would like to say today that this university regrets every phase of that history.  There is nothing in that past that I will not now confidently and totally repudiate. I regret every act that ever limited the human life of anyone who came here.”

Duke’s LGBTQ history is an important reminder of where we’ve come from and of the work that still remains both at Duke and beyond.  To that end, this fall, several events will highlight the past and the future and I hope you and your Duke students will participate when you can. Check out our new website, Queering Duke History (http://queerhistory.duke.edu/) for details.
Thanks again for all your support for your sons and daughters and for all Duke students. The beautiful mosaic represented by the amazing diversity of our special Duke community heralds a wonderful future ahead.

Larry Moneta, EdD
Vice President for Student Affairs​