Congratulations Wayne April! Honored at UNHBy Karen Bagnard
Wayne April, one of our more active members and Secretary of our Pasadena Village Board of Directors, was honored April 4th by the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire, with the Diversity Hall of Fame Alumni Award in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Gay Student Organization (GSO) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH).
As a UNH student, Wayne stepped up and gave voice to the LGBTQ+ students by organizing the formation of the Gay Student Organization at UNH in 1973. The founding of this organization came during a dark time for the LGBTQ+ community. This was a period of great unrest in the country with anti-war protests against the Vietnam War, the beginning of the Black Power movement, and women’s liberation. Rights for the LGBTQ+ were not recognized. The Governor of the State took issue with having an organization devoted to LGBTQ+ rights and tried to disband the student-led organization, leading to the University filing suit against the Gay Student Organization.
With the support of the ACLU, the GSO won in both State and Federal courts. As a result, GSO has remained a force on campus for 50 years, with a few name changes along the way. More importantly, these events provided the foundation for the formation of LGBTQ+ student organizations across the country. A legal precedent was set for anyone challenging such organizations’ rights to exist. It was an enormous win for the LGBTQ+ student community everywhere at a time of important changes going on nationally.
Pasadena Village is fortunate to have Wayne April on board. He is a soft-spoken man with a keen wit and a determined will to stand for what is right. Says Wayne, “It’s hard to believe that 50 years have gone by. There is still an on-going struggle. The battle is not won.” It should not surprise you that Wayne is also the chair of our own LGBTQ+ group, The Village People. To learn more about Wayne, watch the recording of his Member Connections presentation from November 2020 here.